Meet the hoppers

Updated: Nov 03, 2019, 11:47 IST | Anju Maskeri | Mumbai

After providing one-stop brewery solutions as consultants, the men behind Hophead Brewing Company turn beermakers themselves

(from left) Ishan Grover and Mayank Shekhar. Pic/ Nishad Alam
(from left) Ishan Grover and Mayank Shekhar. Pic/ Nishad Alam

Over the last nine years, Mayank Shekhar, Amit Mishra and Ishan Grover, owners of Hophead Brewing Company, have helped over 40 microbreweries produce craft beer by providing equipment, raw material and ingenious recipes. It was only a matter of time before they jumped into the fray, lock, stock and barrel.

The team has launched Kadak, the name for a small batch of artisanal craft beer, in Mumbai and Delhi. This is the culmination of years of research into the methods of brewing. "Six years ago, it would have been difficult to explain what we were doing," says Mishra, 33, former lead brewer at Bengaluru's Windmills Craftworks, where he helped design the signature Hefeweizen. They began their journey together as consultants, experimenting with different malts, hops, and yeasts out of a Delhi outpost. "At the time, mass-produced lagers by Kingfisher and Budweiser were the norm," says Shekhar. "Although people were drinking beer, it was less than they do now." Things were soon to change. According to him, the "gold rush" started a few years ago, largely the result of Indians travelling abroad. "We could see that the palette was evolving, because when you go to Europe, craft beers are commonplace."

In India, craft beer is hard to make. "Beer is not the problem, the logistics are. You have to streamline the brewing and retail process before you launch," says Mishra. While they have started their kegging from Mumbai, the bottling will be done in Delhi. "We did not want to make the mistakes that some independent craft breweries make: rush into it. A sound business model was necessary," he adds.

Ishan Grover
Amit Mishra

For now, they have launched six varieties, including the Hefeweizen with pillowy white foam; Witbier, a Belgian wit with flavours malty-sweet grain and citrusy orange peels, and Session Pale Ale, their flagship beer, with aromas of pine, tropical fruits, biscuity malt, and toasted grains. "We are particularly proud of the Hefeweizen, which is all about yeast and wheat coming together to create a fluffy beer with flavours of banana, clove, and bubble-gum," says Shekhar. That they have created 150 recipes over their career means they know what sells. Interestingly, the plan now is to customise the business model with each city they travel to. For Mumbai, they will offer styles that Delhiites may not get to sample. "Here, I can be experimental and even make a face-twistingly refreshing beer. People will be ready to try. I can't say the same about consumers in the capital."

Kadak is available at Andheri's Finch

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