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TILL RECENTLY, Indian tipplers were exposed to only one kind of beer—the commercial lager. More often than not, the frothy brew they drank was dominated by brands such as Kingfisher and Haywards 5000, as well as a couple of imported but expensive ones such as Corona and Singha thrown in for good measure. It didn’t matter what they were consuming, which was mostly in the bottled avatar, as long as the brew was ‘strong’ with a high content of alcohol.
All that is changing now, with a number of microbreweries springing up across the country and promoting the concept of freshly-brewed beer, or ‘craft beer’ as it is widely known the world over, among beer enthusiasts in India. With as many as 39 microbreweries, as per some reports, currently doing business in India across cities such as Bangalore, Gurgaon, Chandigarh and Pune, and producing anything between 5,000 and 50,000 litres of craft beer a day, Indian tipplers are raising a toast to a new beer culture.
These microbreweries are giving people the option to have a kind of beer that is not only fresh, but healthy too, if some claims are to be believed. In effect, what craft beer entrepreneurs are trying to do with beer is what sommeliers have done with Indian wine, and desi e-commerce websites such as Jabong and Myntra are doing with Indian fashion —cater to the choices of an average metro consumer who is on the lookout for a world-class product to satiate his ever-widening palate.
On a high
As per industry estimates, the market for finely-crafted beer in India currently ranges between R75 crore and R125 crore annually. Sanjay Mathur, owner of the two-year-old microbrewery, 7-degree Brauhaus, in Gurgaon, predicts the number of microbreweries in the country to rise to 150 from the current 39 in the next two years, as an increasing number of craft beer enthusiasts are warming up to the concept.
“Two years ago, beer consumption in India was less than one litre per capita per annum. Today, the demand has grown to two litres per capita per annum. In the next three to five years, it will grow to 10-15 litres per capita per annum,” says Mathur. Since its launch, 7-degree Brauhaus has grown 25-30% on a year-on-year basis, he adds.
The ‘Millennium City’ got its first taste of microbreweries in 2007, when Howzatt opened to the public and started making fresh and delicious craft