Beer in India

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In India, traditional beer has been prepared from rice or millet for thousands of years. In the 18th century, the British introduced European beer to India. The consumption of beer and other stronger alcoholic beverages like whiskey, is popular in India.[1]

History[edit]

Traditional beer[edit]

Traditional beer vats in Meghalaya

Beer was not unknown in India before the arrival of Europeans. The Vedas mention a beer-like drink called sura.[2] It was the favourite of the god Indra.[3] Sura is also mentioned in the Ramayana.[4] Megasthenes has recorded usage of rice beer in India. Kautilya has also metioned two intoxicating beverages made from rice called Medaka and Prasanna.[4]

Rice beer or handia has been traditionally prepared by indigenous tribes of India, in which Ruellia suffruticosa is sometimes added for flavor. Rice beer also has ceremonial use among the Asur people.[5] Millet beer is also prepared by some tribes. According biologist J. B. S. Haldane, local beer helped in keeping diseases like beri beri checked in these tribes. Recently, government and social workers have been trying to curb alcohol usage among these tribes.[6] Elephant herds have been known to attack villages to drink this rice beer for which they have acquired a taste.[7][8]

European beer[edit]

European-style beer was introduced in India by the British. By 1716, pale ale and Burton ale were being imported to India from England.[9] To protect the beer from spoiling during the long journey, it had to have high alcohol content and hops were added to it. This led to the invention of India pale ale in about 1787 by Bow Brewery.[10][11]

In 1830, Edward Dyer travelled to India and set the up India's first brewery in Kasauli. It produced the beer brand Lion, which is still available. In 1835,[12] the Kasauli brewery was shifted to Solan near Shimla. In 1885, it was incorporated as Dyer Breweries. Later, more brewries were built across India, Burma and Sri Lanka, and added to it. Later, H. G. Meakin bought the Solan brewery and added some more. It came to be known as Dyer-Meakin & Company.[11] By the year 1882, there were 12 breweries in India in all, including one in Rangoon.[13]

In the year 1892, 4,831,127 gallons of beer was produced in India. Out of this 2,748,365 gallons were purchased by commissariat and rest was left for consumption by the civilian population. But, British soldiers reportedly didn't like local beer and preferred imported beer which they were able to acquire cheaply.[14]

In 1937, Burma was separated from India and the company lost its Burmese assets.[11] The company was restructured and renamed as Dyer Meakin Breweries. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange.[15] In 1949, N. N Mohan acquired all the assets of Dyer Meakin Breweries and added a few more units. In 1967, the company was renamed to Mohan Meakin Breweries.[11]

Modern[edit]

A bottle of Kingfisher Premium

In recent years, foreign companies have been entering India and acquiring local businesses. In 1999, United Breweries floated a subsidiary called Millennium AlcoBev. It was a joint venture between United Breweries, UK-based Scottish & Newcastle and Ravi Jain.[16] In 2000, SABMiller India entered Indian market by acquiring Narang Breweries.[17] In June 2001, it acquired the Mysore Breweries.[18] In 2003, SABMiller India acquired 50% stake in local Shaw Wallace's beer business.[19] In November 2002, SABMiller India acquired Rochees Breweries.

In May 2005, SABMiller India acquired Shaw Wallace's beer assets for 600 crore.[19] Also in 2005, Carlsberg entered India with its local venture South Asian Breweries. Also in 2005, Singapore-based Asia Pacific Breweries acquired a 76% shared the local Aurangabad Breweries.[20] In late 2005, UK-based Cobra Beer entered the Indian market by beginning negotiations with in December.[21][22] In 2006, SABMiller India acquired Foster's Indian assets.[23]

In February 2006, Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the makers of Budweiser, entered a partnership with Hyderabad-based Crown Beers.[20][24] Also in 2006, Ravi Jain divested his holdings in Millennium AlcoBev.[25] In 2010, United Breweries consolidate its assets, merging Millennium AlcoBev and other units back into itself.[26] In 2011, United Breweries announced that they would produce the Heineken brand beer in India.[27] In 2012 after India allowed foreign-direct investment from Pakistan, Murree Beer representatives stated that they were seeking to export their brand to India.[28] The Rawalpindi-based Murree Beer, which was established in 1861, has been trying to enter the Indian market since 2003.[29]

"Oktoberfest Goa", a beer, food and electronic music festival has been held every year since 2011 in Goa.[30]

Brands and Breweries[edit]

The largest selling India beer brand is Kingfisher. Other major Indian brands are Taj Mahal Indian Lager, Kalyani, Tiger, Lion, Cobra, Haywards, Knock Out and Zingaro. The largest brewery in India by market share, is the Bangalore based United Breweries. Other major breweries in India are Carlsberg, SABMiller India and Anheuser-Busch Inbev.[1] United Breweries has a market share of 55% and SABMiller India has a share of 23%.[31] Carlsberg's Tuborg Booster Strong brand (8% ABV) and Anheuser-Busch Inbev's Budweiser Magnum (6.5% ABV) are sold only in India. United Breweries' Kingfisher Strong (8% ABV) is India's best selling brand.[1] SABMiller India owns the Haywards brand and Foster's Indian units.[31][32] Although imported beer brands like, Corona, Singha, Tsingtao, Victoria Bitter, St. ERHARD, Geist and Christoffel, are available in India, they are costly due to high import duties reaching up to 100%.[33]

Some of the major beer brands in India are:


Beer bars[edit]

Beer Cafe and The Pint Room are two beer bar chains in India.[38]

Craft beer and awards[edit]

In 2011, International Breweries' Australian MAX (7-8% ABV) won the titles of the "World's Best Strong Lager" and "Asia's Best Strong Lager". Australian MAX is brewed at Khoday Brewery in Bangalore.[39]

Sales and consumption[edit]

India is one of the world's largest beer markets. The beer market in India was estimated to be more than 200 billion in 2012. It is expected to be 430 billion by 2017. The growing market is attributed to a growing middle class.[1] The per capita consumption of beer is 1.6 litres.[31] The increased consumption has raised the price of barley in India.[40]

Indians prefer stronger alcoholic drinks, like whiskey, over beer because it is cheaper and has higher alcohol content. Indians have been known to consume mostly stronger brews. Strong beer with alcohol content in the 5-8% range accounted for 83% of the total beer sales in the year 2012. Beer still contents for only 5% of the total alcohol consumed.[1] The low consumption is attributed to high cost, availability and stringent regulations. Karnataka is only state in India, which has a lower tax rate for beer compared to other alcoholic beverages. Maharashtra has the highest tax on alcohol at 43%.[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Stronger is better: brewers tap India thirst for potent beer". Reuters. 24 September 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Abraham Eraly (23 January 2002). Gem In The Lotus. Penguin Books Limited. p. 165. ISBN 978-93-5118-014-2. 
  3. ^ Amitava Dasgupta; Loralie J. Langman (2012). Pharmacogenomics of Alcohol and Drugs of Abuse. CRC Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-4398-5611-6. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Om Prakash (1 January 2005). Cultural History of India. New Age International. p. 503. ISBN 978-81-224-1587-2. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri; Sucheta Sen Chaudhuri (2005). Primitive Tribes in Contemporary India: Concept, Ethnography and Demography. Mittal Publications. p. 57. ISBN 978-81-8324-026-0. 
  6. ^ Rabindra Nath Pati; Jagannatha Dash (2002). Tribal and Indigenous People of India: Problems and Prospects. APH Publishing. p. 123. ISBN 978-81-7648-322-3. 
  7. ^ "Beer-swilling elephants terrorize Indian villages". The Seattle Times. 14 November 2004. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "India elephant rampage". BBC News. 24 December 1998. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Pete Brown (11 August 2011). "Chapter 17: Hodgson's India Ale". Hops and Glory: One man's search for the beer that built the British Empire. Pan Macmillan. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-230-74047-1. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Global Histories, Imperial Commodities, Local Interactions. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-137-28360-3. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Spirits still soar at Asia’s oldest brewery". The Economic Times. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  12. ^ "Himachal Pradesh: Solan". Government of Himchal Pradesh. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  13. ^ Sir William Wilson Hunter (1886). The Indian Empire: Its People, History, and Products. Asian Educational Services. p. 616. ISBN 978-81-206-1581-6. 
  14. ^ "Beer in India". The Calgary Weekly Herald. 26 December 1893. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  15. ^ "Calcutta Stocks Neglected". The Indian Express. 5 November 1948. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "United Breweries (Holdings) Ltd.". The Economic Times. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "SABMiller brews new plan". 10 November 2005. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "SABMiller moving base to Bangalore". The Hindu. 11 April 2003. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  19. ^ a b "SABMiller buys S Wallace for USD 135m". The Times of India. 28 May 2005. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "Beer war hots up in India". Rediff. 4 December 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  21. ^ "Ravi Kaza to head Cobra Beer India biz". The Economic Times. 16 October 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  22. ^ "Cobra thirsts for India beer boom". BBC News. 6 December 2005. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  23. ^ "SABMiller to acquire Foster's India assets". The Hindu. 5 August 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  24. ^ "Budweiser beer to be made in India". The Hindu Business Line. 24 February 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  25. ^ "UB, S&N buy Ravi Jain’s 20% stake in JV for Rs 18 cr". The Economic Times. 14 May 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  26. ^ "United Breweries to fold in Millennium Alcobev, other arms". DNA India. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  27. ^ "United Breweries to manufacture Heineken beer in India". Reuters. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  28. ^ "24 May 2012". The Guardian. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  29. ^ "Pakistan eyes the India beer market". Asia Times. 1 July 2003. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  30. ^ "Beer, music, food: Oktoberfest back in Goa". The Times of India. 15 September 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  31. ^ a b c d "Beer still a luxury for the average Indian". Live Mint. 29 September 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  32. ^ "India key to SABMiller's global bid for Foster's beer unit". Sify. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  33. ^ "Indian cheer for foreign Beer". The Economic Times. 21 February 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  34. ^ "United Breweries: Brands". United Breweries. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  35. ^ "SABMiller India: Brands". SAB Miller India. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  36. ^ "Carlsberg India: Brands". Carlsberg India. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  37. ^ "Mohan Meakin: Brands". Mohan Meakin. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  38. ^ "Beer Cafe brews 100 outlet expansion". DNA India. 28 September 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  39. ^ "The World's Best Strong Beer is Australian Max". International Breweries. 24 November 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  40. ^ "India barley prices surge on buoyant beer market". Reuters. 20 November 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 

Further reading[edit]