Q&A: in pursuit of hoppiness

Something is brewing in Dar… Photo: Crafty Dees

One man is on a mission to bring ‘hoppiness’ to Dar. We asked him a few questions.

Learn more about Chintu and Crafty Dee’s on Instagram or Facebook at @deesbrews.

Who are you and why did you decide to make craft beer?
My name is Chintu B. Patel, and I love beer. It may sound very cliché, but it is what it is.

After securing my undergrad, I moved to Washington DC to begin a career in Telecom. This is where I noticed the craft-beer scene evolving quickly … Whether it was a Wednesday or Friday, happy hours were always busy. Genius, I thought; and it was that moment on where I longed to become a Brew-Pub owner. But I was young, penniless, and had very little professional working experience. It was a far-fetched idea.

After having spent 10+ years in Telecom, I decided to challenge myself and shift my career into the beverage [importation and distribution] industry … This further strengthened my skillsets and gave me relevant experience in a new industry.

Now onto Craft Beer! At the end of 2016 there were 5300+ [in the US.]. In Africa, this revolution has caught on in South Africa where there are 150+ registered brewers … Most importantly, there are signs of increasing presence in East Africa, Kenya having the first mover in 2006. Globally, big beer (mainstream) sales are dropping, while craft beer sales have been experiencing double digit growth year-on-year.

Craft beer is a new thing for Dar. How has it been received?
Whether it is opposite in production volume, brewing style, packaging and design, flavor profile, distribution footprint, craft beer is everything mainstream beer isn’t.

There are two distinct types of preferences in beer drinkers; those who prefer the malty flavors, and others who prefer hoppy ones. For the segment I am trying to carve out, I am differentiating my style by creating hoppy beers, which are non-existent in Tanzania today.

Based on “blind tasting” results (sample size of 100 people), my beers consistently beat the opposition (local and imported) in overall taste profile and drinkability.

There are other craft breweries across the continent, is it any different doing this in Dar? What are some of the unique challenges in Dar?
My aim really was to create a proof-of-concept to ultimately attract a larger investment once the idea was successfully delivered. Funny thing was, that a majority of the people I consulted during my initial research, tried to talk me out of it.

“Don’t do it. The regulators are a pain in the ***, they’ll never let you get off the ground”, etc. And quite honestly, they were not all that wrong.

But since the focus was to be groundbreaking, regulators as they are, also have a learning curve when it comes down to something new. We’re all learning; it’s my first venture into unchartered territory, and possibly the same for them. TFDA, TBS, NEMC, and half dozen others were all outlined in the legal opinion I received prior to starting off. TFDA is where the majority of the effort has been, and I’ve worked diligently to get the relevant permits and licenses required to get off the ground.

Another challenge I foresee is the supply chain of raw materials. At the moment, I get my inputs from New Zealand, and lead-time is 3+ months. From SA, they cannot keep up with their own demand, so catering to another country is out of question. Sourcing quality ingredients at an affordable cost, and ensuring a sustainable supply chain will continue to remain a challenge in an environment where we depend heavily on imports.

What is the plan for the future?
I am a strong believer of doing something once, and doing it right. I do not want to hurry into a specific concept, whether it’s a brew-pub, a large micro-brewery, or a little tap-room. I’ve really tried to focus on enjoying the journey, take in the learning, and have things flow naturally.

The journey has been challenging, yet very exciting.

Know someone doing something unique in Dar? Let us know who to feature in our Q&A sessions: news@darpost.com.

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