Step in for beer that’s as fresh as one can get (With Image)

April 26th, 2009 - 11:41 am ICT by IANS  

By James Jose
Gurgaon, April 26 (IANS) If you thought you needed to visit a brewery to sip a mug of beer that’s as fresh as one can get, here’s a surprise. This fast-growing suburban town boasts of pubs that serve beer as it is made. And the concept is catching fast.

Enter the world of microbreweries, craft beer or brewpubs.

The aerated beverage is not only brewed here but also served to customers right out of the kegs with popular pub cuisine, in a tradition that dates back several centuries in countries like Germany where it is said to have originated.

It isn’t that expensive either.

A pitcher costs Rs.345 (about $7) for all of 1.5 litres - whether you want to have the traditional lager or specialised brews like those with a combination of malt and wheat, or the stronger, dark variants.

At regular pubs, a pitcher of similar size will cost anything between Rs.300 and Rs.350 - but it would be draught or bottled beer and not freshly brewed.

“Our beer’s fresh. It retains the original taste right till the serving mug,” said Vivek Sharma, general manager of Galaxy Hotel that set up the country’s first brewpub here on the outskirts of New Delhi.

“The bottled or canned beer loses much of its original character. There’s this issue of varying temperatures and a host of other factors like the quantity produced and the way in which it is transported,” Sharma told IANS.

To popularise the concept, the hotel has named the brewpub “Howzatt” to combine pubbing with one of the best-known passions among Indians - cricket. And it has generated a lot of buzz in this outsourcing and software hub, dotted by malls and shopping plazas.

“The beer is smooth, quite tasty. The calorie content, I’m told, is lower. The ambience is great. What else do I need for a break after a tiring schedule with my headset,” said Rita Mishra, who works for a call centre not far from Galaxy.

Industry insiders maintain similar brewpubs will dot the country’s landscape soon as the cost of equipment to set up a medium-sized microbrewery does not involve over-the-top expense: It will cost approximately Rs.10 million ($200,000).

As per industry estimates, India consumes around 160 million cases (of 7.8 litres each) of beer per annum and the market is growing steadily at over 10 percent per annum.

“We have enquiries from several states for microbreweries. But many states like Delhi are still not open to the idea because of excise rules,” Rohti Jafa, managing director of Hong Kong-based Sino Trade Corp that helped Galaxy set up Howzatt, told IANS.

“But we are helping to set up two more microbreweries in Gurgaon. We are also working on three projects in Maharashtra,” said Jafa, even as Sharma said Galaxy had finalised its plans to have one more brewpub in Gurgaon and another in Maharashtra by early 2010.

Gurgaon has one more microbrewery named Rockman’s Beer Island at Ambience Maill, set up in collaboration with the Lowenbrau Buttenheim of Germany.

Microbreweries around the world, which also go through a multi-stage brewing process, produce limited quantities of beer per day, ranging between 500 and 5,000 litres.

First malt, usually barley, is crushed and removed to a vessel with hot water, where it is mashed for around two hours. It is then transferred to a large tank to boil with hops - the female cone of the hop plant - and other ingredients.

The entire matter ferments for one-three weeks, following which fresh beer is filtered, ready to be served, said Sharma. “We have to take great care. We carry out the process in a very clean environment. The slightest impurity can ruin the entire brew.”

(James Jose can be reached at

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