Tête-à-Tête with TJ`s Brew Master Ashwini by allaboutdaru’s Nupur

We would like to know your first memory associated with Beer?

Since childhood I have been associated with Beer as my mother was working in the Beer industry for 30 years. She was working in Chennai with a brand called Golden Eagle, in the admin & marketing section. So my association with Beer has been there since I was in the womb

She did her first internship with Mohan Meakin Breweries, then she worked in United Breweries, after that she worked in SAB Miller, then went to Scotland for further studies in Micro brewing & then finally started working with TJ`s. This is how her exposure to this industry started.

At one point of time I felt that Brewing was something I was always meant to do, so the transition that started from Engineering (bio technology) to slowly moving ahead & finally becoming Brew master was always a planned path for her.

She studied in Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland & then started a small Brewing business which was a 20 barrel system, after that she set up the brewery & got it fully functional.

What’s the Story behind TJ`s Brew works & why Pune?

TJ`s Brew house is a brainchild of Mr. TJ Ventakeshwaran. After a lot of research he found that increasing the per capita consumption of beer in the nation, through something that is less developed but is very promising, has a future but was not exploited enough. So he conceptualized this & set up TJ`s Brew Works.

Pune because of the licenses that are available here for craft breweries, and to create awareness of freshly brewed beers among the Puneris!

Your all-time favorite ingredient to work with to make Beer?

I have no ingredient as particularly my favorite but in my point of view beer is always a beautiful mix of Malts, water, hops and yeast that complement each other and there is never a single stand out.

What is your latest Brew; tell us a bit about that?

TJ’s Zen Wit, which is on tap, it is a wheat Beer & has a great after taste of Clove. The food that goes well with this spicy Beer is chiefly bland e.g. mashed potatoes. This surely is a great & balanced combination.

Tell us a bit about Mystery Brews & how is the response for this?

Mystery Brews is a concept wherein we don`t ever mention the style of Beer but mention only the tasting notes of the Beer, like Green Apple & Mint. That’s what which makes it mysterious. Mystery Brews keep changing as per the demands of the customers. This mystery Brew- Green Apple & Mint is such a hit that whenever it hasn`t been available on tap then customers have left the outlet, as their favorite Brew was not available.

We are keen to know a bit about your brewing style & its uniqueness?

The brewing concept that we work on- is localizing International Brew styles so that it suits the Indian palette, that’s how mystery brews, Zen Wit & Zen Weiss come out.

Your beer making mentor is?

Dr Cariapa from Coorg, he is the person who did his PhD in this field 40 years back from Czech Republic – long known for a variety of beer styles. He has been the man behind Cobra & he is one of the first Brew masters of the nation.

Ashwini connects with him every week & updates him with whatever new that she is brewing.

What’s the current scenario of the craft beer industry in India & where do you see it going in the next 5 years?

The current scenario has grown to a level where it has trained people`s palettes to know what the beer is. It has future that is good & this trend is going to be in the driving seat when it comes to the Beer Market for the bottled Beers. It might even be having a good 25% market share in comparison with the Bottled beers.

How do you see the impact of alcohol awareness website such as All about Daru on social stigmas & misconceptions related to alcohol in India?

Websites like www.allaboutdaru.com who are marketing & promoting in the right sense and creating awareness are much needed and are of great help. Definitely an eye opener.

Rapid Fire:-

Your All Time favorite Beer?  Pumpkin Ales from Brew Dogs in Edinburgh. I love real Ales.

Your All Time favorite Beer Bar in India & Abroad? Brew Dogs in Edinburgh & in India it’s TJ`s Brew house.

One place you have been yearning to visit to try the brews of? Belgium for their Lambic Ales which are sour beers & are a hit amongst people there, and I am keen to see how one can enjoy such a sour beer.

Any pointers for the young & upcoming Brew masters?

A Brewer is similar to a gynecologist as one should be able to treat every batch of beer with utmost care and bring it out at its best quality into the market being abreast with all the technical developments happening in the industry. Every batch of Beer is a like a baby & you should nurture it to make it something that is wonderful & unique.

Ashwini Rajagopal

Brewmaster- TJ`s Brew works

Having done Industrial Biotechnology, she opted to exploit the roots of the subject - Brewing. While many were intrigued why Brewing after Biotechnology, she was fortunate to have too many good souls around guiding her to choose the best which eventually led her to work with India's two giant beer makers, United Breweries and SAB Miller India; set up a brewery in Scotland and to spread a massive awareness via TJs, in the Indian society about the nuances of beer!



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