Defining craft beer is hard, but two words describe it simply – independent and innovative. Bengaluru (Bangalore), the Silicon Valley of India, is now home to India’s best bars and pubs. Their brewmasters use several ingredients other than malt to turn out a diverse selection of craft beers. Today, it is this artisanal handcrafted brew and a hearty pub grub that is drawing the heppy (hep n peppy) crowd to more beer outings at rooftop pubs and other luxurious pubs with dancefloors.
The Indian Beer Culture
Craft beer consumers are refreshingly different. They have broken the norms of the traditional beer drinkers who loved to sip a chilled beer on a Sunday afternoon or by a poolside. Today, drinking a beer is a trend, a lifestyle, and an anytime social interaction drink. Though relatively new to Indians, they are slowly developing a taste for it. If you are in Bangalore and visiting a microbrewery for the first time or a regular at the best Rooftop brewery in Bangalore, you are bound to notice the bold and the beautiful and their crafty choices!
The Mighty Millennials
The emerging craft beer culture has become a part of social interactions. In cities like Bengaluru and Mumbai, the mighty and modern millennials want to explore beyond the traditional wines and whiskeys. They wish to experiment and have fun with the flavors of craft beers from chocolate, coffee, caramel, dark fruit, hazelnut to oak and smoky. Ask a millennial the best beer in 2021, and the answer will be – a craft beer!
Over the last decade, IPAs in India have started to rise in popularity with the craft beer scene. Craft beer drinkers have developed a palate for everything beer – light and airy to bitter and bold. In fact, Kimaya Brewing Company, and Pune Beer Association, even created the ‘IPA Divas’ for IPA fans.
Furthermore, the millennials are seeking everything organic. Well, craft beer is! Brewed in small batches in the best microbreweries in Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Kolkata, these craft beers use fresh ingredients and contain no preservatives.
Know the Awesome Foursome
Traditionally, there are four basics in every beer — its four ingredients and its 4-step
process. The four main ingredients are: –
Water, Malt, Hops, and Yeast.
The four basic steps in making a beer are: –
Malting, Mashing, Boiling, and Fermenting.
The beer brewing process starts with malted barley. The barley seeds are milled and roasted. During this roasting process, the sugar in the barley begins to caramelize. Oats, rye, wheat, corn/maize, rice can also be malted to create unique flavors.
Once the grains are malted, the brewer mixes them with hot water to activate the enzymes and release the sugars. This process is known as mashing. Once the water drains away, it leaves behind a thick, syrupy substance known as the wort.
The wort gets transferred to a container having a whirlpool action. As the wort boils, the brewer begins to add hops into the liquid at specific timed intervals. These hops provide the bitterness to balance the sugar in the wort. The type of the hops, and the time when added during the brewing process, create different flavors, aromatics, and levels of bitterness in the craft beer. Microbreweries also add other adjuncts like honey, maple syrup, fruits, and herbs to create their signature craft beers.
After the boiling process is complete, the liquid is cooled and transferred into a fermenting vessel. The brewer adds another ingredient – yeast. The yeast breaks down the sugars to create alcohol and carbon dioxide and a bi-product or spent grain. It roughly takes ten days of fermenting and five days of conditioning. When the fermentation process is complete, the beer gets transferred to Brite tanks with a high centrifuge and is artificially carbonated. In two to three weeks, the craft beer is ready for the kegs.
The brewing scientific principles remain the same for all beers. But, there is innovation and creativity in the best craft beers. The brewer’s choice of ingredients is independent and innovative and varies with the type of craft beer. To the barley seeds, he can add oats, rye, wheat, rice with hops, yeast, and other adjuncts to create a multitude of flavors. The craft brewing process takes time and is considered an art by the brew masters.
Craft Beers in Indian microbreweries – Pretence or Permanence?
Today there are more than 200 brewpubs/microbreweries in India. The millennials sitting in the driving seat with higher disposable incomes are popularizing the pubs and bars, recreating the English pub culture in India. Out of 200 microbreweries, sixty are in Bangalore, the original pub capital, and sixty in Gurgaon. Bengaluru (Bangalore) is a watering hole filled with the best-crafted beers. Brewers are taking the four ingredients – malt, hops, water, and yeast, to create hundreds of different beers to woo the millennials. Every brewpub has the right combination of unique brews to stand out from others. As of now, the Indian microbrewery community is innovating craft beers to trend in the food and beverage arts world.
The Indian craft beer industry is still at a nascent stage but escalating at a significant pace. So, just chill and savor the craft beer flavor and forget about pretence or permanence – only time will tell!