Despite being in the beer capital of the country, the lockdown has been an unpleasant experience for the F&B industry.
However, after much debate, the Craft Brewers Association of India worked out a system with the government where they could sell beers to customers in growlers instead of having to discard it down the drain.
Last week, when brewers started selling growlers, many beer lovers flocked at their favourite places to grab a few for themselves.
While there aren’t as many customers visiting as in the first week, the brewers are thankful that they are benefiting from the new setup.
The new normal
Sibi Venkataraju, co-founder of Toit in Indiranagar and member of Craft Brewers Association, says, “We’ve been seeing customers come and get their growlers on a daily basis.”
It’s recommended to store the beer only for 48 hours as it may lose its quality after that. However, Sibi says that he has had customers keep it for a week and it’s alright. “But yes, it’s best to finish it before 48 hours.”
One of the reasons why they insist on this is to not let any oxygen in to the brew, as the beer goes bad quickly when exposed to oxygen.
Neil Alexander of Windmills Craftworks says that he has been seeing about 15 to 20 customers come in almost every day.
“We see more customers from Thursday onwards, days closer to the weekend. It’s not easy for everyone to come all the time either as they are working too,” he says.
Customers can bring their own growlers or any wide-mouthed bottles from home. They can also purchase the growlers from the bars and reuse them for next time.
Neil says, “Most of them bring their own but we also provide it if they don’t have one. If this system continues, we may just start branding growlers with the company’s logo.”
The pro method
Regulars at most breweries are bloggers Debolina Ray and Tapash Kumar. They were one of the first to visit Byg Brewski in Sarjapur when growlers started to sell.
She says, “We didn’t have a growler at home so we got one from the brewery. We’ve used it a couple of times since then. There weren’t too many people on the first day we visited. Then we saw at least 30 to 40 people at the brewery who came to pick up their drinks.”
Having travelled across Europe, she says that it’s great that India has finally introduced the growler system. “Most of my colleagues working overseas don’t sit at a bar for long and drink. They prefer to fill up the growler and enjoy it at home. It’s great that we can also do that now.”
Following some instructions are a must to make this a better experience. “The bartender will tell you how to store and pour the beer. It’s advised to finish one bottle if you’ve already opened it. But since we don’t have the expertise to pour the beer the right way, the
whole experience is different,” adds Debolina.
The real truth
Akash Hirebet, independent beer consultant and co-founder of Craft & Co., says, “Entrepreneurs aren’t really thinking about profit at the moment. They are just focusing on survival and are doing everything they can to run the business.”
While some of the brewers are pricing it a bit higher than the normal rate, most of them are selling a litre for its original rate.
He points out that some lagers taste better now as they have had longer to ferment. Quality of it matters too. “People are willing to buy the premium product now as they want to ensure that they are being safe too.
What’s a growler?
It’s a glass, ceramic or stainless steel bottle which is used to transport draft beer in. One can buy it online or some offline stores. Brewers will also have it available for customers.
Guidelines to brewers