Coronavirus Lockdown: After heavy losses, microbreweries urge govt to waive annual fees

Lockdown hangover
Last Updated 28 April 2020, 09:05 IST

The coronavirus pandemic has hurt many industries such as the 62 licensed microbreweries in Bengaluru, which must discard their stock that went useless after a month-and-a-half-long lockdown.

Staring at a heavy loss, the microbreweries are urging the state government to waive the annual fees charged on them.

A survey by the Craft Brewers Association has revealed that the breweries had nearly two lakh litres of unsold beer.

“Bar owners pay the excise department one year’s advance. There will be huge losses due to the shutdown,” an association member told DH. They have written to the excise department, expressing their concerns over the situation.

While every microbrewery pays Rs 35 per litre of beer, someone like Nerall Bakhai, managing director, Stories, The Brew Chapter in BTM Layout, pays Rs 36 lakh per annum to the excise department. Now, the lockdown has forced him to pour 12,000 litres of beer down the drain, leaving him with Rs 70 lakh in losses. “We will use the treatment plant to recycle the liquid to make it safe to discharge into the drain,” Bakhai said.

Pravesh Pandey of the Byg Brewski Brewing Company said a growler system that allows one to sell beer in a glass or a bottle would be helpful. With properties in Sarjapur and Hennur, the brewery produces 6,000 to 8,000 litres of beer per month. “The shelf life (of beer) would be two to three months,” Pandey added.

Annual fee in June Members of the association have suggested that the government should relieve them from the financial burden by waiving the annual fee it charges in June.

A commercial brewer who did not want to be named said there are ways to preserve beer for longer periods. During the lockdown, the yeast can be removed before it reaches the autolysis process, which is when it begins to smell bad. “Brewers can remove the yeast as they would normally do and save it for the next batch,” he explained.

A commercial brewery pays Rs 35 lakh per annum to the excise department. “It would be unfair if microbreweries are allowed to sell,” the commercial brewer said.

(Published 27 April 2020, 19:28 IST)

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