Retail shelves in Goa have found a new addition, IST (Indian Standard Time) Hard Seltzers that offer an alcohol content of 5% ABV and come in diverse taste profiles. Founders of IST Krupa and Kunal believe India is ready for a new wave of drinking. Especially after the pandemic when people began being more health conscious, a beer bloat wasn’t a pleasant feeling and breezers with their numerous flavours and fruits extract the alcoholic fun. Seltzers, an internationally validated concept, fall right in the middle of this spectrum. IST Hard Seltzers with their gluten free content override the worries beer induces and yet remain delectable in taste.
We had a conversation with the founders Krupa and Kunal who broadened our understanding of Seltzers and explained why the post pandemic is the right time to bring in a new drink. Launched in April 2022, IST Hard Seltzers come in two flavours at an affordable rate. “People lack awareness about this category and what it offers,” says the founder, “Once the gap is met, we believe the alternate beverage space is bound to boom.” In this interview, we were more than keen to know about this refreshing drink and how it is going to change the party culture.
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Here’s how the founders responded to our curiosities.
IST is bringing seltzers to India, to what do you laud the ideation of introducing a drink that could potentially substitute beers?
We were determined to create a ‘better for you’ alcoholic drink. A drink that not only tastes good but also makes you feel good. A drink that can truly be had at any time without worrying too much about its after-effects. This path of finding that perfect drink led us to launch the IST hard seltzer – a 99-calorie, low sugar, gluten-free drink that thrives on taste. Whether this will substitute beer or not is something we will let our customers decide but there is one thing we know for sure, it will provide a great alternative for today’s conscious consumers.
Why do you think hard seltzers are gaining popularity?
Over the past few years, there is a seismic shift in beverage trends with people looking for more tasteful and mindful drinking. Drinking is no longer restricted to merely intoxication and bitter experiences, with consumers now venturing into flavourful cocktail experiences and ditching a beer owing to its infamous beer belly. Hard Seltzer is right in the midst of this change with an insanely refreshing taste profile, allowing one to have fun while not increasing waistlines.
More so, alcohol is now more easily accepted and plays as a social lubricant in most social & corporate affairs, where Hard Seltzers offer a delectable moderate drinking alternative, as compared to the heaviness and strongness of beers and spirits.
How would you describe the after-effects of drinking hard seltzers?
Beer typically starts sitting heavy in your stomach after a pint or two. Wine makes you feel sleepy by the time you finish your second glass. Cocktails are often excessively high in sugar.
Whereas, IST Hard Seltzers are consistently light & refreshing, no matter how many you’ve had! Being low in calories, carbohydrates and sugar, IST offers a happy buzz, without the same full-ness of a beer, hitting the right spot of leaving one social, yet in control!
Can you give us a few nutritional facts about IST’s hard seltzers in comparison to beer?
A regular beer bottle approximately contains 140-180 calories, with 8 to 15 grams of carbohydrates. An example, KF Ultra’s 330-ml bottle has 140 calories with 12 grams of carbohydrates. In comparison, IST Hard Seltzer at the same alcohol percentage (5% ABV) is 99 calories, with 2 grams of carbohydrates, which is pretty much as low as you can go if you’re drinking alcohol!
Additionally, most beer is made with hard-to-digest barley, that contains gluten which could cause the infamous beer bloat. If you’re avoiding gluten, IST Hard Seltzer is a better choice than a beer! Most importantly, being lower in calories, carbs and being gluten-free, IST Hard Seltzer is not as filling as a beer, making it far more drinkable and sessionable!
Speaking of the alcohol content, how safe is it to assume that seltzers won’t wake you up with a hangover?
IST’s alcohol content is 5% ABV, the same as a beer! A hangover with a Hard Seltzer won’t be as bad as other alcoholic beverages. There are a lot of factors that make up how bad your hangover experience will be, but a lot of it has to do with the sugary alcohol drinks. While a hangover is impossible to predict or completely avoid with alcoholic drinks, one can help mitigate a hangover with lower alcohol content and low sugar drinks such as IST Hard Seltzer.
How do you think this will revolutionize India’s beverage industry? Are Indians ready for a new wave of drinking?
Hard Seltzers will slowly re-define the drinking culture in India, elevating consumers from sweet, synthetic drinks to clean, crisp, refreshing beverages.
Are Indians ready for a new wave of drinking?
- We have evolved towards healthier alternatives in every single F&B category, with muesli replacing our greasy aloo parathas, and with gluten-free flours and sugar-free desserts feeding our appetites. However, alcoholic beverages yet remain fairly untouched being quite high in calories and sugar, giving way to this new wave of drinking. IST Hard Seltzers are not as heavy and calorie-inducing as other alcoholic beverages and allow for a guilt-free drinking experience.
- Moreover, we’ve seen a change in drinking patterns where moderate drinking is the “new-cool” and the newer generations are looking for a drink to fit their repertoire of a “balanced” lifestyle! With a low ABV of 5%, being easy to drink and not making you feel “full”, IST Hard Seltzers would fit the need of the hour for consumers looking to unwind with a drink and enrich their everyday routines.
- Lastly, evolving preferences of younger generations have brought taste and flavor to the forefront of the drinking culture in India. Amid this, IST Hard Seltzer is uniquely positioned with its fresh and diverse taste profile of exotic combinations of 100% all natural flavors, catering to this new wave of drinking.
How is IST planning to sell seltzers– in bottles or cans and at what rates?
We have launched in 330-ml bottles and will later launch in cans as well. The MRP is 120/- per bottle.
What are the flavors IST is offering?
IST offers a rich character with a combination of 100% natural, known and unknown flavors. Our 2 variants are:
- Lime, is zesty and fresh, balanced with floral dry white wine aromas making the overall profile unique and intriguing
- Grapefruit, is succulent and tart, with an added hint of pomegranate, leaving a clean aftertaste
Is IST planning to introduce more flavours and ingredients?
Yes, we have many exciting fruit & botanical flavors in the pipeline.
By when can we expect to see IST on retail shelves?
IST launched in April 2022 and is already available in 100+ retail outlets and 20+ restaurants & bars in Goa, which include upscale spots such as Maai in Assagao, and local community bars such as Misky Bar in Panjim and Cajy Bar in Arpora.
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