The White Owl owner Javed Murad elaborates the evolution of craft beer
As he sets out to bottle their bestselling brews, Javed Murad, founder of a popular city brewery, elaborates on the evolution of craft beer
Diablo and Spark. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
Javed Murad is excited when we meet him; as excited as he was when we met him for the first time in 2013, when he opened The White Owl - Brewery & Bistro. Back then, he was still awaiting a licence to brew, which he got in October 2014. And now, three years down the line, he is set to bottle two of his most popular beers - Spark (Rs 100), a light Belgian wit, and Diablo (Rs 140), an Irish Red Ale.
Dressed in a crisp white shirt and blue pants, the 35-year-old takes time to smile for the camera. But he gets there, just the way his persistence for making artisanal beer has made his brews available at 70 venues across Mumbai and Pune. The bottles will be distributed in the same area; they plan on expanding to other states later. But what happens when artisanal beer is bottled? We ask him. "It still remains artisanal," Murad assures us with a laugh, adding, "Don't confuse craft and draft."
When they first put Spark on the tap as an experiment in 2015, they sold 600 litres, which is approximately 2,000 glasses, in two days. "Wheat beer is extremely popular in India, and it is an easy, refreshing drink you would crave on a hot day," says Murad. We take a sip of the pale-yellow pour, and a lemony orangey zest fills our palate. The beer is quite light on the palate but packs in a strong punch.
Diablo, on the other hand, throws notes of caramel, coffee and chocolate, and finishes off with a bitter aftertaste. A fan of stouts and porters, this dark beer wins our vote. "We chose this blend to showcase our potential of making good craft beer. The drink is not overwhelming, and we felt these two were the right picks to introduce in the market. Diablo, was in fact, the first beer we brewed here, and it has been on our menu since day one," says Murad, who believes that in the last two years, commercial and craft beer industry has made progress. "I see an evolution in the category and better customer understanding."
While The White Owl's kegs and keggers, packaged in the Lower Parel outpost, store unfiltered beer that is refrigerated at all times, bottling is another story as permanent refrigeration is not a viable solution. "Yeast begins to work in the heat. We filter the yeast in all our bottles, so it will be a degree lighter in body. In a blind tasting though, both the beers taste the same," shares Murad, who introduced five-litre keggers last year to expand distribution and availability of their handcrafted beer.
For the bottling, Murad has partnered with a Bhopal-based brewery. "While we can make three batches of 300 litres a day, the factory produces eight 30,000 litre batches. Our idea is to take what we have learnt and maximise its outreach."
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