The brew that cheers: On National Beer Day, meet Hari Singh, Founder Briggs Brewery, who brings fine craft beer to Bengaluru
Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world and nowadays there are a number of Beer festivals that take place annually, like the Oktoberfest in Germany, The Great British Beer Festival in England, and Asia’s largest beer festival Qingdao, amongst others.
April 7th is observed as ‘National Beer Day’ every year, and though we are housebound due to the lockdown and cannot celebrate the day as beer lovers would, it is a good time to check out what breweries in India have been doing with the drink that ‘cheers the spirit and softens the temper.’
In an exclusive interview with YS Weekender, Hari Singh founder of Briggs Brewery, tells us all we need to know about craft beer, from selecting the right ingredients to how the brewing process works, and what makes this type of beer so popular
YSW: Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, what is your message for beer lovers in the country on National Beer Day?
HS: First of all, all of us have to accept the current situation. The cost of the lockdown will hit all sectors, not only our industry. My friends from the F&B sector are going through a hard time, and I'm hoping they will make it up in the coming days, and I'm looking forward to our government and excise department helping our industry increase our sales and support us wherever possible.
With this, we can bounce back from our losses. Once the lockdown is over, I am sure it is going to be Beer’ O Clock very soon.!
YSW: Do you feel beer is the new fine wine?
HS: Yes and No. Special beers, brewed with the addition of fruit and distinctive yeast and matured for a long time, is a new fine wine. One that is cherished and savoured; as it enjoyed. Any other beer is beer, not wine.
Willy's Witbier and Stout Alchemy are some of the popular flavours.
YSW: What makes Craft beer so special, and why did you feel Bengaluru needed this? How is it different from mass-produced beer?
HS: Right now, craft beers are imported, and are priced extremely high, which is why there are limited consumers for this beer.
We have developed our own formulations/recipes using ingredients sourced globally, to ensure that the quality of our beer is superior to that which is available in the market.
We import authentic, high-quality raw material from Belgium and get the beer contract manufactured at the best of plants under their supervision to ensure that we offer an international quality product at an economical rate.
YSW: How did the idea of starting 'Briggs Brewery' come about and what was the inspiration behind this?
HS: The inception of Briggs came about in 2016, while I was looking to actively diversify into other opportunities and verticals, mainly investing in the microbrewery segment.
Along with an expert brew-master, a friend, and a high-expertise team in place, Briggs Brewery was conceptualized.
Francis and Prathik, a renowned expert in the beer industry and I channelised our knowledge and skills by partnering with Bangalore's oldest manual manufacturing plant, enabling them to brew their own brand of beer.
Founder of Briggs Brewery, Hari Singh.
YSW: Can you tell us a little bit about the type of beers offered by Briggs?
HS: Briggs has four signature flavours that are offered. We have Hoppy Feet which has a resinous flavour, Willy's Witbier which is a light-bodied drink, Stout Alchemy, which has a deep flavour of roasted barley with hints of chocolate, caramel, and coffee and Griffin which comes with a hint of spice and a dry finish.
YSW: Were your beer flavours inspired by your travels?
HS: Our flavour selection has been inspired by our experience in the microbrewery world and their offerings. A bit of overseas travel and tours and tastings at local microbrewery craft beers also helped.
YSW: What goes into making the perfect craft beer?
HS: I would say there are two aspects to making the perfect craft beer. The first is our customers and their expectation of a good craft beer.
The second revolves around the brewing side of things and attention to detail. It is important to brew in accordance to the style, character, history, and tradition of the beer.
Griffin is perfect to drink beside a nice bowl of Biryani.
YSW: Who is the master brewer/or brewers at Briggs?
HS: The beers at Briggs were developed in Belgium, where all our malts are sourced. These beers were sampled here in Bengaluru and customised for our beer lovers.
The brewing team at Khodays, is headed by Venugopal along with the Briggs Brewing Team drawn up from experienced brewers and our international consultant, Andre LeBlanc.
YSW: What is your advice for other aspiring individuals wishing to start a brewery?
HS: It’s a challenging business with the regulatory compliances and duties. The competition is with companies with deep pockets and the beer market is packed with offers in different forms.
Good quality beers require good raw materials, which are expensive. Restricted advertising makes marketing a daunting task. Margins are very thin. It’s a game of volumes. So be ready for the grind and hustle but at the end, it will be worthwhile. Everyone enjoys a mug of good quality craft beer.
YSW: What do you enjoy doing most on the weekend during your free time?
HS: Going to the gym and meditating every day for an hour helps me keep my mind and body in balanced alignment. If time permits, I occasionally play the guitar and when I want to take a break from my regular routine, I jump on my bike and take off on the highway and adventure on a bike tour as biking is a deep passion and love for me.
YSW: What are your future plans for Briggs?
HS: We are planning to focus on Bangalore, expand to other cities in the state of Karnataka and across the nation and finally export our products to neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, SE Asia.
We will continue our service to brew exceptional craft beers for microbreweries and taprooms.
(Edited by Asha Chowdary)