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What do you do?
Ishan Grover, who? Why am I reading about Ishan Grover? You must be wondering this right now. But say thanks to Ishan Grover if you swear by microbreweries in town. Most likely, he is the one who is deciding what you should drink in Gurgaon .
Ishan Grover is a brewmaster who is creating a Craft Beer Revolution in Gurgaon. The consumption of 2 lacs litre of Craft Beer in a month in Gurgaon is a testimony to the rising popularity of the tap beer concept. And, the man who is basking in this glory is Ishan Grover. He is consultant to 9 Micro breweries in Gurgaon at the moment. If someone is thinking about microbreweries in Gurgaon, then he is thinking about Ishan Grover.
Fresh from the success of Gurugram Beer week, Ishan calls himself a passionate beer lover. “My focus is to make good beer for everyone.”
This might seem like a dream job for many but there is more to it than meets the eye. The brewmaster is responsible for planning, quality control, raw material procurement, effective running of microbrewery & anything & everything in between involved in running a microbrewery. (Find the list of most popular microbreweries of India here).
He calls his job of a Brewmaster as that of a glorified plumber. “Brewing is not an easy job. Brew starts from 7am to 9pm. In this time span of 14 hours – 80% of the time is cleaning. That’s why i call our role as glorious as plumbers’ & housekeeper job”.
Tell us how it all started? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
While most of us were thinking about what to do after engineering, Ishan took a road less traveled. He went on to study Brewing & distilling as an art & completed his MSc in Food & Beverage Science from Heriott Watt University, Scotland and Bachelors of Science from Garden City College in Biochemistry and Microbiology . Being a trainee brewer in Ghana & making business plans for Micro breweries even before the start of his career led to a solid foundation for him.
He started India’s first International Microbrewery in Gurgaon – Lemp Brewpub and Kitchen, which was the franchise of Lemp Brewing Company in St. Louis, USA. Lemp was the first company to produce Lager beer in the USA. The heroics at Lemp fetched him the best Microbrewery award of Delhi/NCR. It has been a roller coaster ride for him since then with Manhattan, Bronx, Quaff, Lagom & Uptown breweries in his kitty. Ishan is also the business partner of RJ Brewing solutions – the largest and the best microbrewery equipment supplier in India.
What are the challenges ?
The challenges of setting up a microbrewery are multifold & Ishan finds space to be the biggest. ” Space is one of the biggest concerns. The bigger the restaurant, the bigger microbrewery you need. Also, you need to have the passion for beers. You can’t win by just following the herd. We try to conduct sessions to educate people about beer but still there are miles to go”. He tells us that licensing is also a tough part in a brewery. 2 types of licenses are required primarily. One is L-4 & L-5 (You need 20 more licences like Fire safety, kitchen, water quality etc). L-4 & L-5 are actually licenses for retail vend of foreign liquor in a restaurant/bar. Another license in form L-10C is granted for retail and sale of beer to be manufactured by Microbrewery Project.
Ishan could have set up breweries in Scotland too (where he studied) but he didn’t want to get lost in a herd. It was actually the 4 month stint in Ghana Food & Research Institute that created a spark in him. ” Microbreweries have always been a show stealer all over the world. Their quality is far better in beer. They use the best malts, lots of hops (that give character to the beer). Even the African markets like Ghana are doing phenomenally well. I worked in Ghana with a head brewer on a beer made from Sorghum – a cereal crop widely grown in Africa. That was a scintillating experience. I wanted to start something new in India & didn’t want to be a “me too” brand in Scotland or Ghana”.
What future holds for Ishan Grover?
As per Ishan, a microbrewery generally breaks even in about 12 months, but there have been breweries in Gurgaon who have started being profitable within 6 months. The future looks rosy to him. He is doing Farzi Cafe, Bangalore next. Having tied up with one of the big wigs in Mumbai to set up tap rooms there (like Starbucks cafe), he is also helping setting up the biggest brewery of India in Pune. His company RJ Brewing solutions is setting up a beer manufacturing unit in China. With consultancy assignments in Kolkata & Chandigarh in his pocket, Ishan is fully focussed to create a craft beer revolution in India.
Ishan believes that even food has a critical role to play in a microbrewery. He suggests microbreweries to focus on finger foods like pizzas, chicken wings & fish n chips. Though it takes about 20 days for a beer to ferment properly to be called a Fresh beer , Ishan’s eyes lit up as we mention the word fresh. “Craft Beer is all about artistry. It’s a myth that a fresh beer is fermented in the morning & served in the evening.It takes 20 days for a beer to get fermented fermented properly to be called as fresh”, he signs off.