A new Gateway for beers
Beer has become a buzz word these days with more and more international brews making an entry into the country. What is even more exciting is that there is a set of people who have brought craft beers to the fore. Gateway Brewing Co and their three founders, Navin Mittal, Rahul Mehra and Krishna Naik, are leading the way. They set up Gateway Brewing Co to start a brewpub but the plan evolved to become just a microbrewery.
They have introduced their beers in four bars in Mumbai and Pune. It hasn’t been an easy journey to get this far; rules and regulations being the biggest challenge. They managed to convince the authorities to create a micro-brewery policy for Maharashtra and setting up on their own at Dombivali, a Mumbai suburb. We spoke to Mittal who shared with us the story of the arduous journey. “We were able to push for the change in the classification of a micro-brewery and broaden it to restaurant micro-brewery and micro-brewery on the basis of research submitted to the Commissioner of Excise, Dr. Mukherjee,” he explains. Based on this classification they can package, distribute and sell in 5-50 liter kegs. The distribution set up does not need a liquor distribution license. They worked with Suketu Talekar from Doolally, Pune in this initiative. Restaurant attached micro-breweries are also allowed to package and sell.
Beers and brewing them has always been a passion first for the Gateway Brewing Co. team; it was business later. It has always been learning process for them also the reason they have done everything from scratch. From licenses to raw materials, everything has been ground and upwards process for them; even their brew house is custom made. World over craft beer makers buy specialty malts from maltsters who process (roasting, toasting and others) base malts to create specialty malts like Biscuit and Vienna. These specialty malts add color, flavour and character to beers but common sources tend to make them similar. It is then a challenge for the brewer to create an innovative and unique beer. There is also the cost of import and there is no guarantee that just because the malts are imported they will be of good quality.
To avoid all such dilemmas, Gateway Brewing Co. sources their base malts locally, which they then roast to create their own specialty malts. They believe it gives them creative freedom and uniqueness, and is also more financially viable. There is the cost advantage, lack of availability of malts is not an issue, and malts are always fresh; this reflects positively to the consumer with retail prices. There is also the sustainability aspect which promotes local businesses.
They currently have 3 varieties of beer listed – White Zen, India Pale Ale and Like That Only – but considering the trios experimental nature, soon more varieties should be available. Mittal informs that they will be available without change for at least 2-3 months, “we will think about introducing new beers once we get a feel of what our consumers are asking for,” he adds.
The name comes from the German beer Hefeweizen, also the inspiration for the beer. White Zen has notes of bananas, orange zest with undertones of spices like cloves and a mild hoppy after taste. The beer also has a smooth creamy texture thanks to just the right amount of carbonation. Perhaps the best beer you can have on tap on a warm Bombay afternoon. 5.5& ABV.
India Pale Ale
Another one of British regime leftover the India Pale Ale, it is a popular choice for beer and is a must have for any microbrewery’s repertoire. GBC’s IPA is not as heavy as what you would expect if you drink a lot of IPA but does still pack quite a punch. Caramel, pine, tropical fruits and herbaceous notes like grass, this beer has it all. Bitter hoppy notes start right from the mid palate and last a while along with a hint of honey. This beer is approachable yet complex and our favourite of the three. 5.5% ABV.
Like That Only
A beer inspired by the city of Mumbai, it also aims to be friendly local beer for the city. As compared to White Zen & IPA, the beer has less alcohol along with a very approachable balance between malt and hop characters. The idea here is to be able to have a couple of pints like that only, without overwhelming the palate. This is also the easiest beer to drink if you are making the switch from a commercial larger to craft beers. 4.5% ABV.
The most obvious question would be how do these beers rate against The Barking Deer. The answer is simple, as of now, these are the best local craft beers in the city. GBC has also invested in a temperature controlled supply chain, so from the time the kegs leave the brewery to the time they get poured in a glass, the temperature variation is minimum.
The beers are priced between Rs. 220 to Rs. 250 (without taxes) in Mumbai and are available at Woodside Inn (Colaba), Woodside All Day Eatery & Bar (Andheri), Bonobo (Bandra) and Jam Jar Diner (Andheri). They will be available at more outlets in Mumbai in the coming months and their next beer on tap will be a Porter, part of the Mumbai inspired beers. They are also available at Independence Brewing Company in Pune.