Raj Brewery Pvt Ltd, a company under Jawalakhel Group of Industries, rolled out Warsteiner, a German beer, in the Nepali market last week. Thomas Nösner, technical director at Warsteiner International, was here in Nepal to help Raj Brewery with the production of the premium German brand. Republica caught up with Nösner about the journey of Warsteiner to Nepal. Excerpts:
What has been your initial impression of the project in Nepal?
I came to Nepal this time to accompany the start-up of the brewery here and to give our set points on making sure that our specifications make the framework of the product. The target is to have the same quality that we have in Germany so that there is the same taste and feel like Warsteiner original. The good thing is that even the first lot of production here is really good. It has often been the case that the first tank or the first patches are not correct hundred percent. But, we got the same quality of Warsteiner here. However, it was complicated as the brewery in Nepal is newly established. So, there were logical and technical challenges too.
Have you found any difference between the cultures of drinking beer in Germany and Nepal?
Drinking beer is of course the same. But, from the style of drinking beer, there is big difference. When you see in Germany, they want fresh beer, they would like to have foam in the beer and people have a long beer culture. It is also about bringing beer from the cellar, handling of the beer at home, keeping it in dark and keeping it cool for quality. This is something that you learn from your childhood. In Germany, there is nothing without beer. Every celebration including wedding and birthday is with beer. Here, I see many celebrations are with beer, but I did not see a long-term tradition or habit of beer. This is a challenge for us and also for the competitors. If there is no tradition, you have to try to hand it over to people. There is no awareness about keeping the quality of beer. Once the beer leaves the brewery, it is out of our control. Only thing we can do is to convince people to take better care of beer that they drink. What I would recommend to people after they buy beer is to put it in dark, keep it cool, but not too cold, so that its fresh natural taste is conserved as much as and as long as possible.
Can you please share with us the journey of Warsteiner beer to Nepal?
It was important for the Nepali parnter to work as a family business as the Warsteiner which is in the 9th generation and which focuses on long-term relationship. Of course, you have to earn money. But compared to big dealers or players in the business, it is a big difference. The start-up was complicated because we were 100 percent in beer business, but Raj Brewery was not. So we had to struggle for a lot of things. But it is working now. We also had some negative incidents like earthquake in 2015 which delayed the project for a long time. It is nice now that we are starting it. They were looking for a long-term relationship. And for us, of course, every company wants to expand business. We are all happy about it. It is a licensed contract and we give our brand, our help on marketing, and technical consultancy. Licensed business in brewing means we do not say this is how you have to do, but accompanying them all the time. We get samples at least every month from here and make a comprehensive analysis.
In what way is Warsteiner different from other beer brands available in the Nepali market?
We have certain specifications that are measured in laboratory. There are the targets of a licensed agreement to meet the specifications all the time. Therefore it was good to have a relationship already, even when the brewery was being planned. So, we could bring our recommendations. We brought machineries and equipments from Germany as they were not available in Nepal. Utilities and civil works were done locally. But, to reach the same quality that we have in Germany, you need a comparable product. This was the base to reach and achieve the target. Up to now, we have reached this target absolutely. Some parts are very important to import while we can do other things locally. The quality at Warsteiner group is one of the highest in terms of standard in Germany.
How do you maintain beer quality in Germany and ensure it is followed in Nepal?
Germans have their own way to make beer. We have very old laws. In Germany, it is allowed to work with only malted barley, yeast, water, and hops. All licensees have to follow the same standards of material and procedure as we follow in Germany. Otherwise, we cannot maintain the same quality. Hundred percent malted barley is something what gives you more and more impact. As we have been working in brewery for a long time, we have developed our own style, recipe and ways of how to run it. The same hand-picked hop is used in the licensee brewery as it is used in Warsteiner Germany. The barley malt is under the same strict conditions.