BrewDog: Scottish beers arrive in India

BrewDog has made its entry into India with a 4,500sq.ft taproom in Mumbai. A wide range of brews, fantastic fare and an excellently designed space promise craft beer aficionados a delightful experience.

It’s a weekday morning, and the Kamala Mills compound in Mumbai’s mid-town neighbourhood of Lower Parel is mostly filled with office-goers. It’s a stark difference from the picture once the day rolls on a bit more. As one of Mumbai’s prime entertainment districts, the area is choc-a-bloc with some of the city’s finest eateries, pubs and malls. One of the newest entrants here is BrewDog, the reputed craft beer brand from the UK which has arrived in India with its first outlet in Mumbai.

As we are ushered in through the gates, first up is the al fresco area, which with its well-spaced tables and a separate area with beach umbrellas at one end, sets the tone for a proper pub. The indoor section on the ground floor has the bar, with a large number of taps, all ready to spew the brew of choice. There’s also a section on the first floor, which has large windows looking out onto the Kamala Mills compound and with plenty of natural light filtering through, makes for the perfect breakfast or brunch spot.

Essentially, all the different seating areas in BrewDog could cater to a different mood and audience. Spread across 4,500sq.ft, even with capacity restrictions in place, it really wouldn’t be a problem fitting in a fairly large number of patrons. The décor is contemporary, with funky signages and cool posters occupying most of the walls. As a pub worth its salt, there’s plenty of wood, glass and leather to complete the look.

There’s also a nifty little display area with BrewDog merchandise on sale. A fun concept that is a BrewDog trademark is a little mailbox, which patrons can use to send off postcards to friends and family across the world.

Having understood the space, it’s time to try the beers. While most of the stock is currently imported from the mother brand in the UK, there are plans of localisation too. One by one the different brews start to arrive, and before I know it, there are nine different varieties crowding the table in front of me. Lost Lager, Wildcard Wheat, Weiss up Wheat, Punk IPA, Dead Pony Club, Hazy Jane, OG Hazy, Jagged Edge and Apple Cider Slush, phew!

The alcohol content ranges between 3.8 per cent and 6 per cent, while the flavours oscillate between refreshing, fruity, hoppy and earthy notes. The Apple Cider Slush is a rather interesting concoction, the perfect drink for the humid climes of Mumbai. Having tasted this range, I am filled with anticipation about the stout BrewDog have on offer, but sadly, didn’t have in stock on the day. Well, all the more reason to make the journey to mid-town.

Brewdog craft beer
A wide range of beers to choose from, both imported from the UK and locally brewed. Some variants such as the wheat beers have been specifically developed for the Indian market. And the offerings bouquet is set to grow.

BrewDog’s philosophy, when it comes to craft beer, is one that fosters growth. The brand believes in collaborating and ensuring that the craft beer community in India, still a niche and developing one, works together for a brighter future for the entire sector. And BrewDog ‘walks the talk’ too, with ‘guest beers’ from other breweries featured on the menu for months at a time.

While I recover from the onslaught of the brews, Chef Gaurav Gidwani has swung into action and rustled up a feast to help me soak up the alcohol. Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Dip and Cauliflower Wings with Vegan Mayo Dip arrive as starters. Of course, being a devout meat eater, I attack the chicken wings first. They’re crispy, spicy with a hint of honey to contrast. The blue cheese dip is quite the accompaniment and I have to ask for a refill before I’m done with all the wings.

Once I can see past the chicken wings, the vegan starter gets me curious. When I sink my teeth into the crispy cauliflower, I realise that I must warn all who would want to stick to the meats. Avoid the vegan offerings at your own risk, they’re completely worth it, even for omnivores. It’s superb bar food really, and paired with an ice-cold glass of Punk IPA, it really leaves an impression. Next up is the Browned Chicken Garlic Tikka with tamarind chutney and mint-yogurt dips. The spicy Indian tandoori fare goes well with any of the wheat beers.  

With the starters dispatched rather urgently, it’s time to get down to the serious business of eating the mains. I say no to another brew, and focus on the Roast Chicken and Pepperoni pizza. The crust is just the right amount of crispy, and the meat toppings don’t overwhelm the flavours of the chillies, tomatoes and mozzarella; signs of a great pizza.

Then it’s the turn of the BBQ Pork Ribs, which comes with garlic cheese mash. Sadly, by now, I’m so full, I only take a couple of bites’ worth onto a plate and have to return the rest. But those few bites have me convinced, even if you’re a teetotaller who just wants a spot of lunch, BrewDog is a worthy destination. Of course, I can’t even look at the Salted Caramel Brownie Sundae, the dessert on offer, but it teaches me an important lesson on gluttony.

Having experienced BrewDog to the fullest, it’s time to speak to Karan Jain, Co-CEO of Ace-Aloha Group which has partnered with the international brand to bring it to India. “Starting with Mumbai, there are plans to open up BrewDog branches across Indian cities such as Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Pune, among others, over the next three years. In the immediate future, we plan to open at least 10 tap rooms by the end of the year. We also plan to get in our signature flavours, some of which, such as the wheat beers have been developed specifically for the Indian market. Then there’ll be pilsners and stouts too which will come in very shortly,” says Karan.

He seems optimistic about the future, with diners starting to come back as restrictions ease a bit. After all, there’s no recreating a pub at home. But that doesn’t mean he’s shying away from deliveries, especially with the Maharashtra government recently allowing deliveries of growlers. Even as a lot of the stock is imported, the beers that are brewed here have seen an encouraging number of orders already.

What is evident after this visit is that BrewDog is a craft beer brand to be reckoned with. Great spaces, fantastic range of brews, delicious food and most importantly, an inclusive approach to the sector, make it one to watch out for. While we must console ourselves with lunchtime beers for now, I foresee great beer-sozzled evenings for craft beer aficionados once it’s safe. Until then, it’s growlers for the win!

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