There are two mutual agreements among Pinoys when it comes to beer: it should be accompanied with pulutan and most importantly, it must be ice cold. Whatever social bracket you belong to, you’re bound for a good time as long as these two requirements are met. But what if you replace “ice cold” with “beer below zero degrees Celsius”?
Three lucky guys Luigi Nunez, Vincent Co, and Jay-Jay Angala were the first to experience this, mostly because they were the ones who also made it possible. Beer Below Zero was born--- naturally--- out of a drinking spree. Nunez is part owner of Grilla Bar and Grill, and whenever close friend Angala is in town, together with Co, the three would get together at Grilla and ask Nunez for beers served in the coldest possible state for their drinking sprees.
The idea of mass producing the service of preparing beers in the coldest state possible eventually dawned on them, and after several backyard experiments and a couple of broken beer bottles, the three finally produced the technology of freezing any kind of beer below its freezing point.
“Beer Below Zero falls under the category of F&B Value Added Service. It is the technology of processing any kind of beer and serving it just below freezing point… of course below zero degrees Celsius,” explains Nunez.
This novelty was naturally received with open arms by the beer drinking crowd when it was launched May 16, 2008. Word of Beer Below Zero , or BBZ as it is fondly called, spread instantly. Most people initially thought of it as a new brand of beer, but the three were unfazed.
“We wanted them to react this way. We wanted them to ask questions. It gave the waiters an opportunity to explain it. They were amazed with the product. It was the first time that beer was considered refreshing. Again, we were just lucky that people accepted the concept. There was a demand waiting to be supplied,” explains Nunez.
Although Nunez heads up for advertising for CNN, Cartoon Network, Time and Fortune, the company did not venture into any mainstream advertising for BBZ.
“It started from buzz marketing. People were talking about it. Like a virus, it spread very fast. We made sure that all our ideas and executions are out of the box. We were ready for competition since day one," Nunez said.
When BBZ was introduced, the company’s target market was the yuppie crowd who were willing to pay the extra price to experience BBZ, but the three were surprised how quickly it was embraced by other age groups as well.
“Initially we were targeting yuppies since we have a P5-P10 mark-up for every bottle. The mark-up could be passed on to the consumer or absorbed by the establishment. BBZ became a novelty and there was an overflowing demand for the product. Everyone wanted it, they didn’t care of the P5 mark-up anymore because they were after the experience. We positioned BBZ as an independent outfit, a novelty, out of the box ideas, edgy creatives, etc.” Nunez explains.
With the public’s positive growing response to BBZ Nunez says “Even the big players are trying to come up with a similar product. We are very confident of the brand and the service that we are giving. We are just lucky that the brand is synonymous to the coldest beer ever,” he added.
The brand’s popularity was further cemented when the barely four-month-old BBZ was commissioned by San Miguel Brewery for their annual Oktoberfest and Summer Babad projects.
With the rising success of BBZ, the three partners’ simple backyard experiment and love for beer seems well on its way to their vision of changing how the country’s favorite alcoholic beverage is perceived by the world. Nunez points out “It gives us great pride to be part of the beer history in the Philippines. Seems farfetched but we want to change the way beer is served, consumed and enjoyed in the Philippines. If Mexico has Corona and it is known to be served with a wedge of lime or lemon, we want the Philippines to be known as the country serving the coldest beers.”
The brand is expanding to international markets this year, namely Hawaii, San Francisco, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Palau. BBZ was launched in Guam in 2010, and in Singapore last May 2011.
Next year\\\'s expansion plans include Korea, Japan, Australia and more states in the United States.