It’s hard to talk about beer culture without talking about enthusiasts and apostles. How many beer enthusiasts do you know around you? Are you one of them? I know I am! The quick sound of pop, with the frizz flowing out, filling the air around you with a nice, fresh whiff of beer; can make any beer buff like me go gaga. Even after a decade of having my first beer, just one sip can take me to a whole new world where I can just sit, relax and enjoy my glass (Yes, there are other ways to drink beer than straight out of the bottle!)
The Indian market has evolved a lot, but beer culture in India still has a lot of ground to cover. The culture here is a lot different from that in the West. Being born and bought-up in a culturally rich country like India, talking openly about having drinks is still considered taboo. Although India as a country has grown economically by leaps and bounds and large sections of our society have travelled far and wide and are open to experimentation when it comes to food and drinks, the market for microbrewery is at an extremely nascent stage.
Beer enthusiasts in India are well aware of existing international beer brands. But when it comes to relishing the unique taste of freshly brewed beer, we’re prudish, thanks to the strict liquor policy of India. But there’s a new wave on the horizon, as a few states have relaxed their excise policies and have allowed provisions to set up microbreweries.
If you look at the growth of breweries in India geographically, most of this expansion has happened in cities like Bangalore, Gurgaon and Pune. In fact, of late, metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai have also opened up their policy in the year 2015-16. But, the best part is the shifting trend seen in cities like Chandigarh, (Panchkula and Mohali included) where the craze for fresh beer is galloping.
In the current decade, beer consumption has grown considerably because of lifestyle changes. Thanks to the rapid proliferation of beer culture, whiskey consumption has gone down. Another trend seen these days is the growing number of female drinkers, who prefer lighter beverages such as beer. I’d go as far as saying that the day is not far when beer cafés will be as ubiquitous as regular ones.
The liquor industry involves a great deal of licensing work all by itself, so if you’re trying to explore entrepreneurial ground, the biggest challenge for brewers is to procure the right licenses, securing the right venue for a microbrewery and so on. In addition to this, the quality of beer produced in microbreweries needs to evolve, in terms of flavors, aroma and taste – if Indians want to beat international beer brands. Beer culture is no longer a fad, but a very real cultural signage that needs its own identity, and microbreweries are bringing about that change, albeit a little slowly.
The difference between a Microbrewery and a Distillery
People often get confused and associate a microbrewery to a distillery, or even worse – to a beer bottling plant. Conversion happens at an after-taste stage.
Speaking of beer – as a health imperative, we often believe that beer is bad for metabolism. But to keep facts in check, beer actually has one of the lowest concentrations of alcohol available in the market. And microbreweries have all the liberty in the world to play around with this number, mix-and-match it a little bit, to come up with a solution that presents itself as a healthier alternative to regular beer! Also, freshly brewed beer contains a ton of both macro and micro bi-nutirents. As explained in an interview with AlphaDigest, that is one of the major reasons why beer is also known as liquid bread.
Beer Culture – The Pitfalls
Another stigma attached to beer drinking, is that of social responsibility. Numerous discussions go down everyday, about how beer-drinkers behave badly after a good party. And the sad part is, most of these allegations are true! What people fail to understand, though – is that the behavior of people under intoxication isn’t necessarily driven by the specifics of a beverage under consumption. Beer culture in India has taken a major hit since alcohol-motivated crimes became commonplace. However, beer doesn’t have a legal guardian or a spokesperson in our country, and the biggest liquor manufacturer of Indian origin is facing charges. And that puts the beverage in grave danger. A question begs to be asked, though – can human crimes really be pegged back to a specific recipe/beverage? Would it not be wiser, to call them crimes of passion instead of crimes committed under influence? In the west, thanks to an evolved culture, beer isn’t even considered a party beverage. It enjoys a fairly regular consumptive audience, and that’s the reason why beer culture and microbreweries thrive in European countries.
Fact – London doesn’t even have a drinking age limit in its taverns. And they have much lesser crime rates than India, considering most states in India have mandated a 25-year age limit for drinking.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that associating the word ‘irresponsible’ or ‘bad’ with a beverage, based on human behavior, is as stupid as calling all kitchen knives dangerous because they can be used to kill. Besides, didn’t the bearded guy tell everyone to hate the sin and not the sinner? Why must we hate a beverage?
That’s all for now! I run a cute microbrewery setup in Chandigarh and Panchkula, so if you’re planning on dropping by during the summer, do give my beer a shot! And as always, please drink responsibly.
Lastly – please share the article if you love beer as much as I do? Pretty Please?