Microbrewery

Microbrewery

In recent times, certain States in India have started allowing the establishment of Microbreweries and brewpubs. India’s first brewpub was initiated at the Galaxy hotel in Gurgaon, Haryana. The infrastructure was procured from China, which is more cost effective than importing from Europe or other western countries. This was followed by many other breweries in India, including several in Pune, beginning with the 1st Brewhouse at the Corinthians. The states which, at this point in time, permit the establishment of microbreweries are Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and West Bengal, although, apt legislature is still pending in some of these states.

Many types of beers can be produced at microbreweries, including lagers, ales, porters and stouts. Although the quantities vary by region, they are generally permitted to produce up to 5000 liters of beer a day. The beer is fresh from the tap with no preservatives or bottling involved. Microbreweries can be installed anywhere, be it restaurants, pubs, hotels or malls, provided there is a minimum space of approximately 0.1 sqm per liter.

Although microbreweries have turned out to be a viable commercial venture in recent times, there is a lack of knowledge about the beer making process, it being new in India. However, there are consultancy firms that also offer turnkey projects to help entrepreneurs buy the most suitable equipment and set their breweries up.

The various styles of beer that are produced

A microbrewery that has around 3 hl – 5 hl systems can have four to six types of beer on tap. These can generally be interchanged frequently as per customer response and a general experimentation with new styles. Below are the different types of beer that can be brewed in a microbrewery;

India Pale Ale (IPA): A hoppy beer style first brewed in England in the 19th century.

Stout (Imperial / Dry / Irish style): A dark beer made from roasted malt or barley, hops, water and yeast. Stout typically contains 7 – 8% of alcohol.

Wheat: Beer Brewed with a larger proportion of wheat than the barley content. Wheat beers are usually top fermented.

Porter: A well-hopped beer made from brown malt, Porter is a dark beer that descended from brown beer, originating in London in the 18th century.

Pilsner: Pilsner is a type of pale lager that borrows it’s name from Pizen in the Czech Republic.

Bock: Bock is a strong lager that originated in Germany. Typically dark, a modern Bock can range from light copper to brown in colour.

German Lager: Lager means storage in German, it is a beer that is fermented and conditioned at low temperatures.

Cider: Cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apple juice. It is also referred to as apple wine.

Barley: Wine Barley wine is a style of strong ale that comes from England. It can contain anywhere between 8 to 12% of alcohol.

Ale (Scottish / American / English): Ale is brewed from malted barley using a warm fermentation with a strain of brewer’s yeast. Most Ales contain hops that help preserve the beer and add a bitterness to the sweet taste of the malt.

A word of advice for new entrants into the field

Consultant companies must be chosen with utmost caution, with a good evaluation of their past record and a sound knowledge of the capability of their technicians. Visiting the facilities where the equipment is manufactured is another key step, along with procuring detailed information about the equipment and it’s maintenance requirements. Inspecting the material and equipment is paramount as breweries have to be extremely hygienic and rust free. Also, the grade of equipment is very important. For instance, all sources through which the beer passes must be made of stainless steel SUS 304 only and all plastic pipelines and other material must be Food Grade. Apart from everything above, the brewery must have a team of properly trained professionals who are aware of the processes as well as the precautions.

Below is a comprehensive list of the basic equipment required to initiate a microbrewery;

  1. Tanks – brewhouse tanks, fermentation tanks, ice water tanks, bright beer tanks, clean-in-place (CIP) tanks
  2. Filtration machine
  3. Physical heat exchangers (PHE)
  4. Refrigeration machine and boilers
  5. Electric cabinet with all the controls
  6. PLC touch type process controller
  7. Pipelines, valves, motors, pumps, gauges, meters and wiring to suit the brewery
  8. Beer dispensing equipment

*Other minor equipment is required

Legal requirements and Excise policy

Setting up a microbrewery requires several documents and licensing. Since alcohol is in the State list under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, these requirements differ from state to state. There are a few states with microbrewery specific policies, but Maharashtra and Haryana have spearheaded the movement. Taxes, usually imposed upon bottling, are proposed as per the weekly or monthly production of the microbrewery. There is generally a limit of 8% on the ABV of microbreweries in India.

Microbrewery licenses (for production) are issued by the State government, a decent estimate of the price of a license would be anywhere between 1,00,000 to 2,00,000 rupees, depending on the State. A separate bar license is required for sale in the pub premises. The details for the same can be acquired by getting the latest Excise rules handbook for the State concerned. Another duty to be kept in mind is the import duty on the stainless steel used, which can be anything between 10-30% depending on the quantity imported and the exporting country.

Below is a list of other licenses that are required to set up a microbrewery;

  1. Commercial electricity line
  2. Commercial Municipality water line/bore well
  3. Land registration/lease
  4. Company registration
  5. Waste water disposal certificate from the pollution control board
  6. Fabricated equipment quality certificate
  7. Water quality testing certificate
  8. QC certificate for the finished beer from a government approved QC lab (usually done randomly)

Human resource requirements

There are typically four types of human resources that are required to operate a microbrewery. Namely;

The Brewmaster: The brewmaster is the man who runs the show. Therefore, he must be from a food-technology or microbiological background with some prior experience in brewing. He should be well versed in beer tasting, brewing different types of beer, handling the equipment and must be comfortable with all the dispensing needs of the brewery along with being able to train all the manpower, directly or indirectly related to the brewing operations.

The Assistant Brewmaster / Microbiologist: As the assistant would work under the brewmaster, it might be alright for him not to have prior brewing experience, however, he must also be from a food-technology or microbiological background. He must go through a mandatory training period under the brewmaster and be able to handle quality control and the likes for the brewery.

The Bar Manager: The bar manager must be from a hospitality or management background, to handle the non-brewing manpower in the brewery. This may include waiters, chefs and support staff. He must be able to deal with the dispensations made by the brewmaster and his assistant. He is, therefore, the bridge between the manufacturing and the sale units.

Waiters: Competent waiters with good communication skills, preferably hotel management graduates, must be employed to serve and deal with the customers under the supervision of the bar manager.

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