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The Indian meadery that is brewing success

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It’s been four months since opening night, and Moonshine Meadery is already hogging its fair share of both shelf space and social media presence. For a first attempt, the country’s maiden meadery — whose founders weren’t even sure of how much demand they would see — isn’t doing badly at all.

From an outlet on the outskirts of Pune tentatively sending samples to breweries to gauge customer interest, the meadery now sees its products served in 16 locations across Mumbai and Pune — including multiple chains, restaurants and breweries, as well as retail stores. These include popular outlets such as the Independence Brewing Company, The Beer Café, Woodside Inn and De Vineyard, Pune.

And from the looks of it, they’re just getting started. “We are in talks with a number of restaurants to start supply in the coming few weeks. These include stand-alones, chains and international chains. We’re also talking with more distributors in Pune,” informs Manu Misra, who heads marketing and strategy for the start-up.

Though based in Pune, a majority of their products are currently sold in Mumbai, and the choice of cities is quite deliberate. As a first mover, they had no frame of reference for the mead market in India. “In terms of taste, mead falls somewhere between beer and wine. So, we began by targeting the younger crowd at breweries. These people are adventurous, and open to trying new things,” explains co-founder Rohan Rehani.

Even now, when it’s become clear that they’ve hit the nail on the head, the team’s focus remains on customer education. “Our first priority is to help customers understand what mead is, and get them to try out our first two batches,” says Misra. Apple cider mead and coffee mead are the only ones being produced en masse at the moment, though the process of experimentation is underway. Some of the better ones do see their moment in the sun, but not for long.

“We hold mead labs at select locations, where we serve small batches of our creative flavours, for feedback. We recently served strawberry mead, guava chilli mead and pina colada with coconut mead at the Gateway Taproom in Bandra Kurla Complex,” says Misra. He does add, however, that more flavours will be out in the market about six months down the line.

It’s Moonshine Meadery co-founder Nitin Vishwas, who handles the sourcing of raw material, especially the fruit and fruit syrup, for experiments and tasting. The team is still conscious of the fact that the product is new to the market, which is why another conscious decision they have taken is to keep the alcohol level low in all their brews.

The feedback process in incessant. “We take feedback from our retailers, from our customers… We had an event called the ‘Sassy Seafood Brunch’ at the The Sassy Spoon, Nariman Point, and the mixologist was constantly interacting with customers for their feedback,” says Misra.

The feedback they receive is not just educational, but also quite encouraging at times.

In fact, Misra finds it “really fun. A customer at Haiko Supermarket in Powai actually got in touch with us on Instagram, sending us a photo of an empty shelf after he bought the last five bottles there. He was asking us to restock, even before the retailer could”.

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