Identifying the potential for micro breweries in India, Mumbai – based Gateway Brewing Company pioneered the craft beer culture in Maharashtra
Established in 2011 during the nascent stage of craft beer growth in India, Gateway Brewing Company is the brainchild of three home-brewers – Navin Mittal, Rahul Mehra and Krishna Naik – who came together to start this company, which has set things moving for the micro brewery space in Mumbai and Pune. Gateway Brewing Company’s purpose is to brew classic styles of beer with local ingredients and make them available to bars and restaurants at an affordable price. The company’s name is inspired from Mumbai’s iconic landmark, the Gateway of India.
Mittal, also known by his blog IndianBeerGeek, started blogging about his home-brewed beers in 2003 – at a time when home – brewing was not a hobby here. In 2010, Mehra had just quit his job to start a microbrewery. Whereas Naik, from Australia, had also decided to get into the business of beer. That is when they found Mittal’s blog and the idea materialised. The company operates on a B2B model and supplies various styles of craft beers to 90 F&B outlets in Mumbai and Pune. The company last month released its exotic new flavour – Darling-Jee – at The Bombay Canteen in Lower Parel. The beer is a blend of Darjeeling and Earl Grey Teas.
Having a brewery facility in Dombivali in Thane district of Maharashtra, the company’s product portfolio includes various beers such as Doppelganger, Easy Come Easy Go IPA (India Pale Ale), Sidecar, Dark Horse, Ale Caesar, Kaapi Stout, Pompous Ass, Explorer and more. Its flagship offering, White Zen has hints of clove and banana which make for an enjoyable and easy beer to drink. To mark its second anniversary last year, Gateway Brewing Company introduced its limited release, Kaapi Stout, brewed with roasted black barley and single estate coffee from the South, crushed and infused into the beer during the brewing process.
Gateway Brewing Company takes pride in sourcing base ingredients locally. Higlighting this, Mittal says, “We proudly only use barley and wheat malts that are produced locally in India. This has been unique to us as most others use imported malts. We believe that local beer should use local produce. Moreover, we also roast our own malts to make darker beer which no other micro brewery does in India. Hops and yeast are imported and we get them from Europe/USA. We also use Indian spices, teas and coffee. Our goal is to make unique and flavourful beers and we continue to experiment with a variety of ingredients regularly.”
Started with a client base of four restaurants, Gateway Brewing Company has expanded by maintaining consistent quality. The company, which has been marking 50-75 per cent year-on-year growth, is currently focusing on growing the business in Mumbai and Pune through collaborations with more F&B establishments. This year it will collaborate with Woodside Inn in Mumbai.
Mehra says, “Our flagship beer, White Zen is accepted really well throughout our client base. To keep growing, we experiment with different styles of beers on a monthly basis and introduce them to various restaurants. Although we operate on a B2B model, our relations are also close with the end consumer. We are always connected to the end customers and we keep getting feedbacks from them. We also participate in various beer festivals. We choose the kind of festivals that work well for our products. There is a good demand for new types of beers in the market and that’s what helps us most of the time.”
Gateway Brewing Company played a significant role in the introduction of a micro brewery policy in Maharashtra. According to norms, micro breweries are permitted to produce two lakh litres of per year. “Setting up a micro brewery in India still remains tough. There are several barriers, but they aren’t as hard as people perceive. It takes about a year to get licences, but that’s normal for any type of manufacturing business. At one time, it was hard, but it has become far easier now to apply for licences and get them,” shares Mehra.
Over a short span, craft beer has garnered significant awareness in the India market. For instance, restaurants these days keep space for craft beers during their construction phase, which Mehra sees as a positive sign of the growing culture of micro breweries.