By Ship, They'll Come

As any history text book will tell you, it wasn't until fairly recently (1950) that The Republic of India gained its independence from The United Kingdom. The Brits ruled the subcontinent for more than a century before an Independence Movement was sparked by Mahatma Gandhi. The movement led to India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru in 1947. Because the British dominated both government and trade (through the powerful East India Company), their influence on the goods being produced and consumed in the Dominion (at the time) was profound. British Beer became a mainstay with the advent of the India Pale Ale, a bitter and hoppy beer which was preferred by both shippers and consumers for a range of reasons. In the late 1820s, India's first brewery, Kasauli Brewery, was established in the Himalayas by Edward Dyer, an Englishman. The brewery was moved only a short time later to a spot in Solan, known for its abundant supply of fresh spring water. The brewery continues to operate today. Rice beer is a traditionally popular style in the North East regions. Unfortunately, elephants are prone to attack rice beer producing villages and buildings as the smell and taste is appealing to them. The elephants have been known to tear down the tribal houses where the beer is produced and stored. Of course, India is a sovereign nation and when the British left, so did much of the IPA. Sadly, there is currently only one major brewer which still produces the style domestically. Today, the industry is the result of mass consolidation and only very recent and small scale efforts to increase the presence of higher quality craft beers in the face of international conglomerate domination. As The UK had a lot of influence over the industry well after it had left India's government, SAB (now SAB Miller) began its rapid rise to dominance by outright acquiring local breweries both small and large, including Shaw Wallace, a major conglomerate and one of India's largest beverage producers. The deal went for more than a quarter of a billion Dollars in 2003. Another major player in the Indian industry, United Breweries Group went on its bolstering effort by establishing new brands, and engaging in new joint efforts with other Indian companies. UB's Kingfisher is India's best selling beer. Lagers and stronger beers (like malt liqours are the most popular styles (as is with the rest of Southern Asia), though recently, breweries have begun to make ales more popular once again. Imported beers are not very popular in India as importers are subject to a relatively large custom duty on their product, though some brands like Sam Adams' Boston Lager, Murphy's Stout, Paulaner, and Chimay are relatively known. Brewpubs and microbreweries are beginning to rapidly grow in numbers, as well as the quality of Indian beer overall.

A la sature.

Rated Indian Beers

9-18-12 - Skol Breweries Haywards 5000 - 2.18, Indian Malt Liquor, 7.00%

Popular Beer Styles in India

  • India Pale Ale
  • Malt Liquor
  • Porter
  • Rice Beer
  • Pale Lager
  • Indian Breweries with Rated Beer

  • Skol Breweries (Shaw Wallace & Company, Limited) - Mumbai, India