The journey so far - Navin Mittal

What’s the story behind Gateway Brewing Company?

I was a resident of USA and working there, I used to drink & love craft beer a lot, my favorite one was the Canadian wheat beer. I returned back to India in the year 2006 and was once sitting and drinking the famous Kingfisher beer, missing the craft beer of US, and that’s where the idea struck me. Why could I not make a craft beer in India? So I started researching about beer & as how it is made.

The Belgium connection: At one point we even tried getting craft beer from Belgium but due to the import restrictions, it wasn’t a volume based business. It was in the year 2006-2008 when I tried to brew beer at home which eventually turned out to be good. After that I have been actively running a blog named Indianbeergeek.com. Finally after Rahul Mehra & Krishna Nair joined as my business partners, we launched in January 2014, we started with 4 bars in Mumbai.

What were challenges you faced in order to setup a microbrewery in India?

The two biggest challenges that I faced while opening up a microbrewery were the government policies that were not favourable to a budding entrepreneur in the alcohol sector and the working of MIDC being very lethargic & uncooperative.

As per your experience how popular is craft beer among the Indian drinking lobby?

To start with, 3 years ago it was nowhere to be heard & found. We began operations a year back in Mumbai & since then it has been the talk of the town. We have been participating in TAPPED Craft beer festival and in Oktoberfest organized by the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce which stocked our brand of local craft beer & completely sold out. We now have our eyes set on Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore to expand.

What’s the current scenario of the micro brewing business in India and where do you see the craft beer industry in the next five years?

In the next five years the industry is supposed to grow, but it is subjective to certain factors such as; if the government is ready to help this specific sector, and whether there will be new budding business minded people who want to take the torch & invest in this industry.

In the present scenario, where do you see the importance of E-Commerce in the Micro brewing Industry?

As per my opinion the growth of e-commerce in the micro brewing industry would be slow paced & in some cases is uncertain as well. But there is definitely a need for e-commerce to step up to the block and start educating the masses about alcohol.

Does packaging and promotion of the product play an important role in selling the brand in the country (If yes then how)?

Packaging is secondary, but the promotional activities like knowledge building and the up selling technique of staff plays an important role. Other than that, beer festivals & such promotions are an obvious and inevitable progression to be followed in terms of promotions or marketing.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning the poorest and 10 being excellent, how would you rate Indian craft beers?

I would say around 8 to 10, as the beer available is fresh & has considerable shelf life.

Does excise have to change some of their rules that will help the Industry to grow in a better way (If yes then in what ways?)

Yes of course, first of all the rules which are currently in place are not very proactive and promising for us. There is a cap on production which is 2 lakhs litres per year. Then the commercial brewery and the microbrewery are taxed in the same manner, the license fee which is 9 & ½ lakhs Rs per year for commercial brewery to produce 50 lakh to 1 crore litres per year works out cheaper per litre than what we pay, 1.5 lacs for 2 lakh litres. So a microbrewery can produce only 2 lakhs litre per year but a commercial brewery on the other hand can produce up to 50 lakhs litres to 1 crore litres per year. But the taxes don’t change & remain the same for both.

Where do you think Indian craft beers are lacking in competing with International Brands?

I would say that Indian craft beer aren’t lacking in any aspect, in fact with limited hops being produced in India, we are still doing a good job. We face problems & high cost while importing hops & yeast from outside but somehow we still do a pretty neat job with the limited supplies we get from the country.

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

As per my understanding, the stigmas are with the older generation & the same goes for the misconceptions as well. But the problem that younger generations face in terms of alcohol awareness, is the limited education & limited internet reach.

 

NAVIN MITTAL

FOUNDER | GATEWAY BREWING CO.


Specialization

Beer Geek
 

Navin Mittal is the founder of Gateway Microbrewery, Mumbai's first packaging craft brewery. His passion for craft beer and many years of brewing beer at home led to this venture. He is educated at http://brewlab.co.uk.
 

 
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