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Chandigarh tricity takes a fancy to freshly brewed beer

They were robbed of Rs 10 lakh by at least four motorcycle-borne men on the Ferozepur Road while they were returning after collecting cash from an e-commerce company’s godown.

punjab Updated: Oct 11, 2018 12:10 IST
Rajanbir Singh
Rajanbir Singh
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh,brewed beer,microbreweries
Youngsters across the tricity have taken a shine to new flavours on offer at the 20-odd microbreweries across the three cities despite its high price tag.(HT Photo)

Fancy getting beer from a tap? It’s the dream of every spirited citizen of the Chandigarh tricity. And it’s one that is increasingly coming true. Welcome to the frothy world of microbreweries. Step into any of the 20 such breweries in the city and you will be greeted by hordes of young and not-so-young enjoying a mug of craft beer.

All India Brewing Association says craft beer sales are growing at a phenomenal 20% year on year. Consequently, the number of microbreweries in India has grown from two in 2008 to 80 last year. The tricity accounts for 20% of this growth.

With an increasing number of upwardly mobile youngsters saying cheers to beer, the city is seeing a steady addition to this number even though a microbrewery requires an investment of Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1.25 crore. Last two months alone have seen the rise of two such new breweries in Sector 26 and one in Mohali.

Beer bazar

The tricity’s tryst with craft beer began in 2010 with the setting up of Hops and Grains in Panchkula by a business graduate from Australia and former sweet shop owner.

Slowly but surely, Chandigarh too followed suit with five such breweries though Picaddily, one of the oldest hotels of the city, claims credit for setting up the city’s first brewpub with the opening of Malt and Co in 2014.

Last two years have seen an explosion of such breweries at Sector 26, the tricity’s party strip. It started with Rock and Storm Distillers from Sangrur setting up their hospitality wing by opening Brew Estate in January 2016. Then came the Brew Pub at The Great Kebab Factory owned by Red Chilly Foods followed by Kingdom of Beer in January 2017, and MTV FLYP in March 2017. This year saw Farzi Cafe followed by Culture Brew Exchange and Quizo, all riding high on beer.

Earlier, Social rang in the new year by setting shop in Sector 7. Again, it made sure it had its in-house microbrewery in place before it opened its gates.

JW Marriott, which threw its hat in the microbrewery ring on September 7 with Brewhouse, claims it is the first five-star hotel with a microbrewery in the region.

Dilpreet Singh Bindra, its general manager, brags that even 5-star hotels in Delhi and Mumbai don’t have such a brewpub. Like most other newbies, they launched it with a gala party. “It was a three-day affair in which we organised a ‘silent party’ where guests danced to songs of their choice with headphones.”

Beery beery tasty
  • Malted beer: 100% malt
  • Wheat beer: 60-70% malt and 20-30% wheat
  • Rice beer 60-70% malt and 20-30% riceCorn beer 60-70% malt and 20-30% corn
  • Oats beer 60-70% malt and 20-30% oats
  • Dark wheat beer: 60-70% malt and 20-30% mix of wheat and toasted wheat

The right flavour

Every brewpub claims to offer one-of-its-kind beer flavour, ambience and music to keep the crowds coming. Malt and Co, for instance, swears by its fruit beers with an assortment that includes a green apple beer, red berry beer, and a strawberry beer. Many of these breweries reel you in by giving you a free taste of their multiple flavours. At Brew Estate, for instance, they offer free shots of beer.

Sohan Singh, restaurant manager of Malt and Co, says, “The concept of brewed beer was slow to pick up in Chandigarh, it’s only in 2016 that people started preferring it to bottled beer.” Youngsters, he says, are more open to experiments. That is why green apple on tap is such a hit at the brewpub.

Debdip Chaterjee, who has been managing Hops and Grains since its opening, agrees, “Earlier people would go for premium lager made of 100% malt, which is our version of bottled beer, but now they want to try new flavours.”

The German brewing process adopted by the breweries in the tricity is called ‘Reinheitsgebot’, or the ‘German Beer Purity Law’ (HT Photo)

Pricey affair

These flavours come at a price but no one is complaining. Pegged around Rs 300 for 500 ml, craft beer is still giving tough competition to the much cheaper bottled beer (Rs 100 for 650 ml). Despite the steep price difference, an average brewery sells about 7000 to 9000 litres of beer in a month while an average liquor vend sells about 9,750 litres of beer in a month, thus giving tough competition to its bottled counterpart.

But most breweries make their drinks easier on the pocket with happy hours and other promotions. A one-plus-one policy that recently got some pubs into trouble makes sure there are enough people who can’t wait for the sun to set before they start guzzling beer.

Alcoholically speaking

Most breweries keep the alcohol content of their beer at around 5%; the highest they go up to is 6.5%. “Brewed beer is great with good food, the taste is more important than the alcohol content,” says Shrey Budhiraja, a fan since the concept came to Chandigarh.

But tipplers prefer liquor to beer. Pawan Kumar, in charge of the Sector 46 liquor vend, says people go for strong beer with a high alcohol content, and that too mainly in the summers.

True to the German tradition, breweries celebrate Oktoberfest as a tribute to the golden brew. So watch out, it will soon be raining discounts or some heady new flavours.

Brew master

The German brewing process adopted by the breweries in the tricity is called ‘Reinheitsgebot’, or the ‘German Beer Purity Law’, with four ingredients-- malt, hops, water and yeast. Beer is made at a brew house, and usually there are two tanks on two floors. The system is semi-manually operated. Beer can be filtered before it is served, however most places serve unfiltered beer as people enjoy its texture.

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 12:10 IST