India is a huge country in southern Asia with landscapes of extreme diversity – from the peaks of the Himalayas to the coast of the Indian Ocean – and five thousand hears of history. In the north, the hallmarks of the Moguls can be found, such as the Red Fort in Delhi and the giant Jama Masjid mosque, as well as the famous Taj Mahal in Agra. Pilgrims bathe in the Ganges in Varanasi. Rishikesh is a centre for yoga and the starting point for hiking tours through the Himalayas.”

That’s the Wikipedia-style description of India, but it is a fascinating country with many different cultures, languages and a cuisine to bring tears to the eyes of many a visitor. But these are tears of joy and fascination about the fact that there are so many more ways of spicing up food than simply throwing in a bit of salt and pepper.

In recent years, Craft brewing has also joined the culinary scene. It’s estimated that this industry is today worth some 150 million US dollars and will grow even further in the future, when legal restrictions are reduced. India is being described as the beer market of the future and bolder commentators even go as far as to say that India’s beer market will be comparable to that of the USA in years ahead. There are numerous reasons for this assumption, because Indian brewers produce first class beers with plenty of depth and aroma. The general legal framework, which currently restricts the distribution of beer, is also changing. And then, there’s the population with a rising standard of education and perhaps because of this, the desire for a more westernized lifestyle is rising too. I was able to experience all this personally on a business trip in April 2019.

To attend the Drinktech India, I flew to Bengaluru, a town that has gone through a period of rapid growth over the last 25 years thanks to the IT industry. This growth becomes very apparent everywhere, especially in the traffic situation. Far too many cars, motor-cycles and other two-wheeled vehicles in the far too narrow streets clearly demonstrate that this city of 15 million people is reaching its limits. The good thing is the lack of complaint – I only met positive, motivated people who want to take their lives in their own hands rather than wait for opportunities to be presented to them.

This is also shown by the fact that Bengaluru is now India’s craft brewing capital and is home to the most and best microbreweries in India. So, it was only logical that on the day before the Drinktech India, the S Brewing Company held a panel discussion involving numerous representatives of the Indian brewing industry. A very lively exchange developed about typical Indian beer, the perfect glass for a perfectly tapped beer, hygiene in the brewery and in the bar, the desire for simpler legislation for the beer industry but also, and this is where BLEFA comes in, information on the subject of stainless steel kegs.

After the event, there was a very nice after-business party where countless interesting conversations were conducted, accompanied by very good beer and delicious food. The longer the evening went on, the more exuberant the celebrations became, including dancing to traditional Indian music.

The following day, my faithful companion Napoleon Biswajeet Pattanaik, an employee of S BREWING Company, went along with me to the Drinktech India.

This fair takes place three times a year at different locations and in Bengaluru, exhibitors included many highly relevant players on the Indian beer market, as well as international companies. The fair confirmed the positive impressions gained over the previous few days. Enthusiasm for and devotion to craft beer could be seen and felt everywhere.

In summary, this was a trip that I’ll remember for a long time. Lots of very interesting conversations with interesting people and valuable information about a market which we are likely to hear a lot more about in future made the entire venture a great success. As far as I’m concerned, India has gained a new fan!

 

Author: Joerg Roeder

Picture: Joerg Roeder