Our story actually goes way back to 2003. Yes 2003. This is when Navin, aka IndianBeerGeek stared blogging about his home brewed beers. Perhaps, this blog still remains the first documented evidence that home-brewing in India had indeed begun.
Unlike in the United States, home-brewing was never a hobby here and, anything to do with alcohol, to put it politely, was still a taboo. There were no regulations, no ingredient suppliers, and worse, no drinkers who craved or for that matter even knew better beers. The best anyone was aware of, at this point, was what was sold to us by swimsuit clad models and large advertising budgets. Was it not for IndianBeerGeek’s blog, maybe even 2013 would have been too early for Mumbai to get its first microbrewery.
Skip to 2010. Rahul had just quit his job to start a microbrewery. Krishna, from Australia, had also decided to call it quits and get into the business of beer. Neither knew how. That is when they found IndianBeerGeek’s blog and got in touch.
It was in this year that three far-out Mumbaikars put their careers aside, took over their kitchens, got their creative swag on and let their commitment to better beer do the talking, blatantly ignoring disgruntled family and averting any questions, as is usual of every brewer at his brazen best.
It was during these sessions of making their beers, drinking them and teaching other people to start home-brewing (which is now almost a cult), that a plan was hatched, and their savings bank accounts were finally put to good use. Yes, Krishna actually quit his job in Australia to join the team.
In 2011, our business plan changed from wanting to start a brewpub, to a captive brewery for our own bar, to just a microbrewery – one that would supply beers on tap to various restaurants & bars in the city. We chose the latter mainly because the first seemed a little short-sighted and selfish to what we actually set out to do – to bring craft beers to the people. Not just to people who came to our brewpub, nor just to people who came to our bars, but craft beers for the people. Period.
During this time we started working very closely with the guys behind Doolally in Pune – Suketu & Oliver. It was because of their efforts that a brewpub policy even existed for Maharashtra. However, a microbrewery policy, which would allow us to sell beer to other restaurants – didn’t. This is what we wanted to achieve.
Little did we know that heaps of red-tapism and paperwork lay ahead of us. But being blue blooded, non-conforming & truth seeking Mumbaikars, and knowing extremely well that we come from a lineage of people who are doers and to some extent warriors, we took up this challenge. Our only advantage – we always had great beer to come back home to, and sometimes, even really great beer!
HERE & NOW
Now that a better part of the past two years have been spent in innumerable visits to government departments, supported by a well documented communication trail, a myriad of research reports submitted to recommend policy changes, incalculable counts of invoking and kneading the red tape, and not wanting to pay a single penny as bribe, we have accomplished what once seemed the impossible – a comprehensive micro-brewing policy for Maharashtra. This obviously means that, though Gateway Brewing Co. is the first, our efforts have cleared the passage for other craft breweries to set sail.
You’re Welcome Mumbai!