Please tell us about yourself
Who said women don’t know to brew beer? The Indian craft brewing scene is filled with women who are masters at brewing them.
With a family history of engineering, a Commerce degree and a job as a data analyst in Chennai, Vidya Khuber would seem like an unlikely candidate for a future job as one of India’s few female brewmasters. And yet, today, Khuber is chief brewmaster at the Bengaluru-based Geist brewery, overseeing beer production in South India’s first distribution brewery in Nimbekaipura village as well as two retail microbreweries in the CBD. “It really started as a preferred beverage for me, and then I got attracted to the whole concept of beer brewing. It seemed to be a logical progression from there into a career,” she says.
Ask Vidya Khuber, one of the best brewmasters in the country, and she will tell you about the road less travelled.
Vidya’s previous job was in different fields — from starting out as a system analyst to moving to a sheet metal facility, she did it all before discovering her love for beers. “I love beer; it’s my preferred beverage. But, the push came when I began reading about the process of brewing, and it intrigued me. Of course, travel made it even more better!” she exclaims.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
Her travels gradually became beer-centric and Vidya would visit breweries and meet brewmasters. “By then, I knew it was very interesting to me and that I would go out of my way and do the extra bit. I tried telling myself it’s something I could do as a hobby, travel and enjoy but it just kept coming back and that’s when I took it more seriously,” she explains.
Vidya decided to plunge into it, much to the dislike of her family. “At some point, I was wishing for people to tell me to go for it. But, it never happened and I was restless. So I decided to be quiet about it and just pursued it wholeheartedly!” she shares.
So, has their opinion changed now? She ponders, and says, “I think there is more of a neutral stand now and that’s fine. I’ve had people even ask me if I was crazy but, this is something I enjoy doing. It’s a happy job and I think it’s good to take risks sometimes, as long as you’re aware of what you are doing,” she says.
What did you study?
Vidya received formal education in brewing technology at the Siebel Institute in Chicago, USA, and the Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany. “I also interned in a few breweries in Germany and came back here and applied for a job in 2012,” she recalls.
What do you so?
Vidya has been part of the Bengaluru-based Geist brewery for six years now. “It’s a burgeoning industry and the country is open to micro breweries, where beers are brewed on site and served. Chennai is yet to catch up,” she shares.
Currently, with distribution breweries opening up, Vidya says that Geist has rolled out their beers in August. “We sell in different pubs in Bengaluru and I really love being creative in this job. What’s more interesting is that a lot of stereotypes are being broken. I see a 50-50 or 45-50 of female-male ratio in brew pubs. Women enjoy beers equally, especially the craft beers as they are more flavourful,” she points.
So, what’s brewing next? “December is a busy season and we are gearing up for that and working on new beers. I definitely try to do different things in the field and I like to be more academic in my job. It’ll be nice to see India as a destination for craft beers in the future where we have everything that is internationally available,” she adds.