Mumbai’s Second Production Craft Brewery
Craft Beer in India is still in its nascent stages but we are slowly seeing a shift in how business is being conducted. Craft Beer is growing at a rate of 20% year on year according to the All India Brewers Association.
The first entrant into Craft Beer was the Brewpub model in 2008/2009 in Gurgaon and Pune. You manufacture small batches of beer and sell them on site. Today there are over 80 brewpubs in the country.
Most States in the country today follow the same model – Karnataka, Haryana, Telengana, West Bengal. Maharashtra and Punjab follow a similar model with one exception – B2B distribution of Craft Beer is allowed. This simply means you can produce on site and then package your beers (kegs) and distribute them either to your own network of tap rooms or at third F&B outlets.
You can choose to either set up a brewpub where you sell on site and distribute via kegs to other outlets or just set up a production brewery and distribute.
In 2012, Gateway Brewing Co out of Mumbai opened its doors for business. They set up a production brewery on the outskirts of Mumbai and started distributing their Beers to various third party outlets and now supply to over a 100 different outlets in Mumbai and Pune.
Other brewpub owners have followed suite with Doolally setting up independent tap rooms across Mumbai. Local Mumbai brewpubs such as Brewbot and The White Owl also distribute their beers to select outlets. Independence Brewing Co (Brewpub) from Pune have recently set up their own tap room in Mumbai. Effingut (Brewpub) in Pune have set up a tap room in Pune and will open one more later this year.
There are other players entering the market with this model such as Toit, who open their tap room in Mumbai in May/June serving beers sourced from their production brewery outside Pune. Windmills Craftworks are in the process of setting up their production brewery in Pune.
It’s evident that the distribution model is successful and with this Mumbai is fast becoming a Craft Beer hub in the country. The city gets its second production brewery that is operational, Ninkasi Brewworks that opened its doors in March 2016.
Ninkasi Brewworks is a production brewery that follows a similar model to Gateway Brewing Co. They currently distribute their beers to a few outlets currently and plan to grow their distribution model within the coming months.
The current production limit in Maharashtra is 200,000 Liters/year but this will be increased to 500,000 Liters/year by Excise in due course which simply means production breweries such as Ninkasi Brewworks will be able to scale as their business grows.
Last month, Ashish Jasuja ( http://www.beerish.in) and I got a chance to visit Ninkasi Brewworks, meet with the owner and the brewing team and see their brewery in action.
Ninkasi Brewworks is the brainchild of Vipul Hirani, an Equity Research Analyst by profession, Vipul has worked for companies such as J.P Morgan and ICICI Securities.
His discovery of Craft Beer was during a course he did in 2008 in London and re-kindled once again in 2013 when he worked in London, England and this in turn made him think about setting up his own Craft Beer brand.
For those who don’t know, Ninkasi was the Sumerian Goddess of Brewing. The Sumerians were pioneers in brewing beer and started brewing as far back as 3500-3100 BCE. Beer was considered a sacred drink, fit for the Gods, the kings and even the common man. Ninkasi’s spirit and essence was said to infuse the beers produced under her guidance. The first know beer recipe was written as a hymn or ode to Ninkasi around 1800 BCE.
Ninkasi Brewworks hopes to invoke that spirit into brewing and quality brews that the Godess herself would be proud of.
Vipul set out to set up Mumbai’s second production brewery and the journey began in January 2016. A company called VsquarePH Beverages LLP was floated in March 2016. Brewing equipment was installed in September of the same year. Ninkasi received their brewing license in February 2017 and released their first batch in March 2017
The brewery is located in Navi Mumbai in an industrial area that has easily access to major transportation routes. The property is 8,000 sq ft with the production side taking up 1,200 sq ft
Ninkasi’s system is configuration is as follows:
- 10HL Brewhouse – 3 Vessel with a separate Whirlpool system.
- 7 Uni Tanks (10 HL Fermenters that can used as Bright Beer/Dispensing Tanks -BBTs)
- Cold Room (for ingredients storage & kegs) – not pictured.
The system is capable of producing 15 HL (15,000 Liters) of beer in month on a 15 day cycle and Beers are dispensed into 20 L kegs for distribution.
For a more detailed overview about Ingredients & the Brewing Process, please read our post – https://talesoffroth.wordpress.com/brewingprocess/
They plan to do a variety of unique brews lagers & ales) with frequent specials.
At any time they will have 3 Beers available of which 2 will be house beers and 1 special.
Some of the beers they have released and will be releasing – Belgian Wit, Hefeweizen, Dunkelsbock, Cider, Pilsner (May end).
The Brewing team consists of two experienced brewers – Prashant who was earlier with Gateway Brewing and Vijay who used to brew for Bangalore Brew Works.
Ninkasi Brewworks is part of the newly formed MCBA (Maharashtra Craft Brewers Association) and they plan to work closely with other members in the city to promote Craft Beer, participate in Craft Beer festivals and so forth. The end result will be a collective push to make Mumbai and Maharashtra a formidable Craft Beer destination in India.
Ninkansi Brewworks has a small number of employees but each one is focused, ambitious and driven. If they can set up the right distribution network and keep consumers engaged and educated about their new Craft Beers, they will do exceedingly well.
They have a well laid out production site that is organized, clean and functional and with easy access to the Pune/Mumbai highway, the beers can easily make their way to outlets in Mumbai and Pune.
The Beers – Tasting Notes
Vipul and I sampled his Beers at The Beer Cafe, Powai where they had a Belgian Wit and Dark Lager (Dunkelsbock) on tap.
Belgian Wit – Golden, hazy, Perfume like aroma, delicate , citrusy. Light bodied, citrusy with the notes of coriander shining through with a finish that is low in bitterness making it extremely sessionable. This Wit could use a slightly heavier body and a touch of sweetness to make it even better.
Dunkelsbock – Brown in color with a creamy off white head, malt forward with caramel and coffee notes, low in hop bitterness and light to medium bodied. A clean, malty lager that is easy to drink. A nice alternative to heavy bodied dark ales such as stouts and porters.
Their Hefeweizen and Cider are now on tap with a Pilsner to follow – so keep an eye out for that.
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JJ The Keg
Where to Find Ninkasi
Ninkasi Brewworks Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/ninkasibrewworks/
Ninkasi Brewworks on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ninkasibrewworks/
All Images Courtesy: Ninkasi Brewworks & Tales Of Froth