The Beer Chronicles

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The Great Beer Dream – Microbrewery

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Times are changing. Many people are becoming adventorous and doing things that they have wanted to do. In the last few months I have met a few well to do professionals, people who are just starting out and people on cross-roads of their respective careers. The thread which connected them all was:

1. They want to become an entrepreneur
2. They want to set up a microbrewery/brewpub

People are now more aware of craft beer, microbrewery and beerpub, mostly because of their extensive travel around the globe and the web. With the government relaxing its norms and policies, a few states in India have opened up licences to set up new breweries/ brewubs. And I am sure in times to come, practically every state in India would have its licences

Craft beer is a luxury when compared with regular beer but it is a luxury that people can afford. It is a small and niche industry but globally it has a loyal customer base. The fact that it is largely unexplored in the Indian market, makes it a good business opportunity.

Most often when a new brewery/ bewpub opens up, they strive to create their own edge by brewing that special recipe and building up their customer base. This also becomes the key differentiator and indicator of growth. In a way it is good, because everybody is alert and wants to be ahead of the competition. The game also become challenging because the quantities produced is miniscule compared to a large brewery. Also the ingedients used/ flavours produced are exotic. Besides the regular Ale, Lager we now have choices between Coffee, Chocolate , Champagne…you name it and the flavour is there.

Unlike the West, where there are a lot of home brewers, organised platforms and courses available before someone moves on to start their own brewpub, India is still a growing market. Some entrepreneurs who are new to the area seek guidance/ mentoring from consultants, trade suppliers, brewery manufacturers, brewmasters and industry experts. It is a good idea to have all the cost and time approximations before one starts, otherwise there may be disappointments later.

In my next post I will put up a sample business plan, which will help entrepreneurs do the numbers 🙂


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September 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm

How Big Should A Brewery Be?

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Continuing on my previous post about  competion analysis and knowing what kind of beer (Lager, Ale and/or own beer) will be served, it becomes important to answer – how big should the brewery be?

While setting up a microbrewery one should always allow room for future expansion. We know that the single most expensive part in the functioning of a brewpub will be the equipment itself and it will not be possible to keep changing the equiment frequently. Most brewpubs brew in seven or ten barrel batches, depending on the location, the size of the premises and what they are serving. Most brewpub start-up systems go with a seven barrel system. This will suffice for medium sized, retail only brewpubs. If it is an ambitious project, then one must consider upwards of ten barrel systems. Also while designing a brewpub, one must remember that the brewery system will occupy approx 1000 square feet (for a seven barrel brewery) plus another 1000-1500 square feet for operations. A larger brewery system will take up more space.

However much that we desire, it will be impossible to brew round-the-clock. As an entrepreneur one must keep in mind that there would be at least 15 days total production time for ales and about 21 days for  normal lagers. Add to this the number of different types of beers you wish to sell, you can then decide the volume you need to brew each week. Initially I would suggest few brews per week and gradually increasing it.

This way you will have an idea about the possible demand, capacity to brew and can then work out the brewlength depending upon the hours you wish. Ideally two to three brews per week is very much doable, keeping in mind that one would require time at the start & end of the week for activities like warm up, cleaning, maintainence and some time for the inevitable breakdowns. If you are doing less than two brews/week then you are surely oversized and if you are doing more than three brews/week then you are undersized, keeping in mind the expansion.

A good consultant should help you estimate the annual production, identify and install the right brewery equipment for your brewpub.

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August 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Great British Beer Festival

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It was in 1975 when the first Beer Festival was held in London. 34 years on, this years GBBF (Great British Beer Festival) is bing held between Aug 02 and 06, at Earl’s court London.

The festival is often dubbed as the “biggest pub in the world” with 450 beers  participating from British breweries and som 200 beers participating from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Czech and even the USA

2010 saw approx 67000 visitors to the festival with approx 75 pints poured per minute, thats a whopping 200,000 pints sold.

The festival is organised by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale). While CAMRA promotes good-quality real ale and pubs and has systematically left out good hand crafted beers from the festival, there has been much debate about inclusion of craft beers. However this year will see the inclusion of craft beer at the venue.

This round goes to the beer lover. May the best Beer win 😀

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July 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Who is Influencing your Beer?

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Are you looking for people who can give you advice on Beer. Look no further, Klout a social website has aggregated a lost of top 10 influencers on the topic of beer.

These influencers are chosen by looking at the action they’re taking specifically on beer and related topics.

You can read more about the influencers here.

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July 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Lambic beer – beer or wine?

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Most people I know would trade the world for a glass of chilled, cold beer and have a huge smile on their face once they have it. They would smirk at people having the “sophisticated” glass of wine and likewise. But very few people know that a glass of beer can be as expensive and sophisticated as the delicate wine. There are fierce loyalists to this type of beer known as the Lambic beer.

Lambics are living beers that contain living microbes and is brewed in the southwest region of Brussels, Belgium. Traditionally, wheat beer is made with 70% barley malt, 30% unmalted wheat and hops are added only as preservatives, not for the bitterness. Lambic’s  is then fermented by exposing it to wild yeasts and bacteria that are native to the Senne valley, in Brussels. The fermented brew is stored in barrels, just like wine,  for a period of 3-4 months (young) to about 3-6 years (mature). This unusual process gives the beer its distinctive dry, vinous, and cidery flavour with a slight aftertaste.

The aged brew stored in cool, dark places or under mild refrigeration takes on a rich, fruity complexity and much like wine, are not exposed to excessive temperatures because the living microbes will otherwise die. This delicate craft of producing a Lambic, makes it the most sought after fine drink, just like wine.

Lambic beer, is to be savored  like wine and not gulped like beer often is 🙂 The beer is often paired with a wide range of foods. A true Lambic beer goes well with light, white meat entrees like roasted rosemary lemon chicken and goes wonderfully well with desserts from chocolates, to cheesecakes.

The Timmermans Brewery has been around for more than 300 years brewing Lambic beer. History traces them to 1702 when they set up their brewery in Itterbeek. It was then known as ‘Brasserie de la Taupe’. Today they produce a fine variety of Lambic beer namely: Tradition Gueuze Lambic, Tradition Faro Lambic, Tradition Lambicus, Framboise Lambic, Kriek Lambic, Peche Lambic, Strawberry Lambic.

The types of Lambic/ Derived beer and the foods that they are usually paired with are:

Gueuze: A good gueuze can be kept for about 10-20 years, and is made by refermenting (for a year) a mixture of bottled young (1 year old) and old (2/3 year old) lambics.  Gueuze is usually paired with spiced desserts.

Faro: A light, sweet beer made by adding water/lighter beer to lambics along with herbs and brown sugar. It tastes divine when had with a dark Belgian chocolate or a chocolate truffle.

Kriek: Usually cherries are steeped in the beers, thereby producing a stark, penetrating dryness in the beer, accentuated by bitter, earthy and mineral flavors. Cheesecakes  go well along with Kriek.

Fruit: Lambics with addition of raspberries, strawberries, peaches, black currant and grapes. This has to be paired with fruit complimentary foods to feel the real richness of the flavor.

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July 7, 2011 at 2:13 am

Beer, India and the India Pale Beer

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With the rule of the British, came the beer.

Before long, India had its first brewery in Shimla. This was around the late 1820’s when Edward Dyer set up Dyer Beweries. It was in 1840’s that Lion Beer, the first brand that was sold in the market and has since become famous as Asia’s then first, and now oldest beer. Also because of the British Empire, other countries like New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka started producing the beer.

Over the years Dyer Breweries changed hands, and was renamed as Mohan Meakin Limited.

Before setting up of the Dyer Breweries, The East India Company was importing a lot of October beer, brewed by George Hodgson (Bow Brewery).  The journey to India by ship, would usually take couple of months and it seems this style of beer stayed fresh (not flat) after the months of journey to India. Hodgson is often mentioned as the inventor of the India Pale beer.

The Lion Beer was originally an India Pale Ale (IPA) and only in the 1960’s did it become a lager. The IPA version of Lion Beer became such a hit with the Britishers in India that they would exclaim “As good as back home”.

The name “pale ale” came from brews made from pale malt. Its roots have been traced since the 17th century Britain. This type of beer was lightly hopped and because there was less smoking/roasting of barley, the brew was paler in colour.

The other styles of the IPA are:

American-Style Black Ale: This type of beer retains the aroma of a typical IPA style beer, but because of use of roasted malts, the appearance is dark/black.

Belgian-Style IPA: Belgian brewers added thei own twist to the IPA by fermenting the IPA with a Belgian yeast strain and follow it with adding Belgian candi sugar.

Double India Pale Ale: This type has a very high amount of malts, hops and usually the alcohol content is also above 7%.

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July 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Beer taste in different glasses

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There was a time we had the German Beer Stein glasses to keep the flies of, or the glasses which had bells attached, to attract the barman for a refill. Over time, the need based humble beer mug transformed design oriented. This was done to keep in mind how the head is formed, when the beer is poured to enhance the flavor and aroma.

A true beer drinker knows that a glass in which the beer is served is more than a glass that displays the brand name of his favorite drink/ establishment and so on. Much like wines and the need to have wines in a certain glass/ temperature etc., beer also follows suit.

Over time, glassware has become very important as the beer itself. There are breweries in Europe, where each brand of beer will often have its own glass. The exhaustive range of beer glasses that are available today range from the mug,  goblet, pilsner, flute, snifter pint and weizner.

The appropriate glass enhances the texture, flavor and aroma of the beer, whether bottled, tap or home-brewed. The thumb rule to keep in mind while choosing the appropriate glass ware is:

    • A wider brim glass is suitable for darker beer. This helps in releasing the aroma and flavor of the beer.
    • A thin pilsner glass is ideal for the pasteurized beer which comes in bottles. The glass enhances the color and how the beer is poured.
I will follow up the list with the types of glassware available for beer.


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June 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm