April 02,03 – 2016 @ Independence Brewing Co, Pune
With India’s Craft Beer movement mushrooming across several metros, there is a thirst for knowledge developing in the country.
To give you a perspective of how fast the Craft Beer sector is growing year on year, this forecast (courtesy: Gateway Brewing Company), should help:
Die hard Craft Beer enthusiasts have formed communities in cities such as Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi/Gurgaon. Most of these individuals are folks who have travelled extensively and who have some brewing experience abroad.
I belong to one of these groups (The Bangalore Brew Crew)and we spend our time talking about Beer, new recipes & ideas, sampling brews at local brewpubs and visualizing what the future holds for Craft Beer in India. Unlike the Wine and Whiskey sectors where there are a set of professional sommeliers made up of brand ambassadors, evangelists, bloggers and individuals alike, the Beer/Craft Beer sector has no such structure that is public facing.
In the US where the growth of Craft Beer since the late 70’s has been phenomenal. There are over 4,400 craft breweries in the country and there are several professional associations that cater to the business of educating both consumers and professionals in the art of appreciating Craft Beer. Here in India, we have seen some fledgling attempts by a few brewery owners to unite to form the Craft Beer Association Of India (CBAI). The charter makes a lot of sense if you are on the business side and is much needed. However, CBAI has been extremely slow to get off the ground with membership limited to a few breweries in Bangalore and a few in Maharashtra. One can hope that they pick up the pace in the months and years to come, as this industry grows quarter on quarter.
My exposure to Craft Beer has been as a consumer since the late 90’s and an exposure to the marketing side via Molson Coors’ Beer Xchange – their consumer panel for over 3 years. The rest of my experience has been gained by spending time over the last two years at brewpubs in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune. Time spent with brewers and beer enthusiasts has been extremely valuable. Participating in collaboration brews and helping brew regular batches has served as great practical experience. However, learning never stops and there is always a need for further training.
The idea for a Craft Beer Boot Camp was discussed in early January 2016 with Navin Mittal from Gateway Brewing Co. and Shailendra Bisht from Independence Brewing Co (IBC). We sent a few emails about the framework and who would host it. Shailly volunteered and in early March 2016 announced India’s first Craft Beer Boot Camp for select Craft Beer enthusiasts across India. Having been an accomplished, award winning homebrewer in the US, a certified BJCP Judge (Beer Judge Certification Program), his experience in brewing and the fact that his brewery has ties to Stone Brewing in the US meant this was definitely the right place and setting for this type of Boot Camp.
This was an event that was open to those with Craft Beer knowledge and/or brewing experience (non-professional). A questionnaire was sent out those interested for qualification and from this group, 15 members were selected for the course from Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai & Pune.
Participants had to pay a small course fee that included course material, a t-shirt, 2 meals a day and a few pints of beer per day – a very generous gesture from Independence.
Two intense days covering Brewing fundamentals and Craft Beer appreciation:
1. 10am-11am : General introductions, breakfast.
2. 11am-12.30pm : Craft Beer 101 :
– What is craft beer
– Craft beer history and current status.
– World beer styles.
3. 1pm-4pm : Lunch working session
– General Ingredients deep dive; Malts, Hops, Yeast, Water, Spices, Adjuncts
4. 5pm – 7pm : Beer appreciation 101
– Visual appeal
– Overall Impression
5. 7.30-9.30pm : Beer Appreciation (deep dive)
– Common flaws in beer (DMS, Diacetyl, Acetaldehyde, Fusels, Under attenuation, Oxidation, Astringency, esters)
– Guided beer tasting ( 7 beers brewed by IBC)
Day Two: Brewing Process
Whole batch will witness a commercial batch of beer being brewed at IBC. In between sessions will touch upon the basics of each step of brewing.
1. 10am : description of the beer being brewed, recipe discussion and start of milling.
2. 11am : milling and mashing deep dive
3. 12.30pm : Recipe formulation deep dive : Gravity, SRM, IBU, Efficiency, Pitch Rate, etc. calculations.
4. 2pm : Lunch working session
– Boiling deep dive.
– Hop additions when and how.
– Spice additions when and how.
5. 4.30pm : wort transfer: oxygenation, wort cooling, yeast pitching.
6. 7pm : pop quiz (from material taught in sessions), Q&A session.
The 4 of us from Bangalore were given a wonderful welcome the night before by our friends at Effingut Brewerkz and our fellow Beer enthusiasts in Pune. The next morning class started on time and after a quick breakfast, it was time to dig deep into theory but not before trying out a wonderful stout called Ixcacao – brewed with real cocoa nibs and bourbon vanilla.
A 200 slide presentation with an accompanying booklet is what we had to chug through over the course of two days.
With Beer history and Craft Beer statistics out of the way (thank you Ninkasi), a quick lunch and it was time to really dig deep into the world of ingredients in detail everything from the malting process to examining yeast under the microscope. We then went on to do a recap on Beer appreciation and learn about common flaws that can occur during the brewing process and how to detect flaws in Beers. We ended the day with a guided sampling of house Beers.
Here’s what Day 1 looked like:
The second day was all about learning recipe formulation and scaling up to produce a commercial batch.
We were formulating a new Beer for IBC – The Boot Camp Plae Ale – essentially an sessionable American Pale Ale with loads of citrus/pine hop character, low on the IBU and alcohol with a hint of malt sweetness and a dry finish.
The first half of the day was theory and in between brewing processes further theory. Each participant was handed a certificate at the end of the course and we proceeded to go on a field visit to Corinthian’s Resort to visit Pune’s first microbrewery and one of the first in India – Doolally. Brewmaster Oliver Schauff was delighted to have us over – a fitting end to two days of intensive learning about Craft Beer.
This is what Day 2 looked like:
The IBC Boot Camp Ale was tapped a few weeks after our Boot Camp and even sent to Mumbai and served on tap at both Woodside Inn locations! I did not get to try this beer but those who did said it tasted exactly what it was supposed to be!
The whole Boot Camp was a great learning experience and has given me valuable insights that I will be sharing during my workshops. It was also wonderful to network with fellow enthusiasts, owners and brewers, as well as sample several different styles of beer. The off flavor training was particularly helpful.
Thank you team IBC & Shailendra Bisht for doing such a wonderful job! Cheers to all of you!
What we need across India now is more such training sessions and eventually certification to turn serious enthusiasts into sommeliers and eventually judges. This is something I will be personally pushing for this year.
Cheers & as always Stay Frothy!
JJ The Keg
All Images Courtesy: Independence Brewing Company, Woodside Inn & Tales Of Froth