India. Beer packs a punch in Delhi this winter

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Come winter, Delhiites would typically reach for a bottle of rum to stay warm. In the summers, they would opt for a chilled can of beer.

Maybe it is the unusually warm winter this time or changing tastes, but Delhiites are turning this notion on its head.

Beer sales have seen an exponential growth this winter as compared to the last season. The sale of rum, on the other hand — the quintessential ‘winter drink’ — has actually seen a dip.

According to figures of alcohol sale in the Capital with the Delhi government’s Excise Department, sale of beer has gone up by 41.20 per cent between December 1, 2015, and January 15, 2016, as compared to sales between December 1, 2014 and January 15, 2015.

For the same period, the sale of rum has gone down by 2.30 per cent.

This winter has seen some unusual weather trends with the day temperatures hovering mostly around 20 degree Celsius and the characteristic dense fog largely missing.

It is only recently that Delhi has started feeling the chill.

“The sale of rum has not been satisfactory this winter even though it is a popular drink during this season. With the weather now getting colder, we hope to see the held over stock finally moving,” said a Delhi-based liquor distributor.

Beer consumption in India

In another interesting trend, the sale of alcopops like Breezers that have low alcohol content has seen a growth of 51.40 per cent.

Gin, a popular base for cocktails, has seen a huge spike of 100.9 per cent, while vodka, another popular cocktail base, has seen a jump of 32.63 per cent in sales.

In contrast, the traditionally popular whiskey has seen a growth of only 9.92 per cent. Overall, the sale of alcohol in Delhi has gone up by 18.16 per cent as compared to last winter.

Industry experts, however, ascribe the trend to changing taste of Delhiites more than the warm winter.

“The trend is changing and discerning customers, who have travelled all over the world have more choices available that they can pick from. People are becoming more conscious about their choice and prefer drinks with low alcohol content,” said Prakul Kumar, Secretary General, National Restaurant Association of India.

Mr. Kumar said traditional notions about winter and summer drinks are changing due to availability.

“Ten years ago, there were a couple of brands of whiskey and IMFL and some brands of beer. The amount of choice available now is phenomenal. People have travelled and they have tastes. Instead of two, they have a choice of 50 available before them,” he said.

“Beer is an entry-level drink and, in my opinion, this just shows that a lot more people are now drinking. Rum is a drink that you graduate to and no one starts drinking with rum,” said Atul Kapur, a partner at QBA.

“A lot more brands of beer are available now and it is not considered alcohol, per say. It is also a day time drink as compared to say whiskey or rum,” said Mr. Kapur, “Beer is the future.”