Craft Beers have undoubtedly made the consumer more experimental with brewpub culture growing in cities like Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi. The India Beer Market Outlook 2023 report states that the Indian beer market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 6% during 2018-2023.
Crafters Taphouse had introduced Crafters movement whilst using an ingredient local to the brewer’s homeland or India; wherein brewers from different parts of the world were invited to come to brew their signature styles in India. With this programme, we are looking to invite a brewer with reasonable experience brewing craft beers and having their special signature styles that we can market in India. The science of Craft Beers Allison Higi, a freelance biochemist who uses scientific techniques to encourage craft breweries around the world to make high quality, unique brews, is in India to produce a beer influence by India and one by Indiana, her home town. Tell us about your association with Crafters and Crafters Movement?
When I was working and living in Ho Chi Minh City, I had heard about the Craft Beer explosion happening in India. Crafters and I have a mutual friend who recommended me for this International Women’s Day Collaboration project with Crafters. When they reached out, I was just finishing up some work in Central America and jumped at the chance to come make some beers in Mumbai! How long have you been in the brewing industry and how did you explore brewing as a profession?
I started working in a brewery in 2007 as a server. I wasn’t much of a beer drinker before this and didn’t know how beer was made or anything about the different styles of beer but being a server gave me the chance to learn. It wasn’t until 2010 that I began working in the brewery, making beer. I have two degrees in Biology and Chemistry and had intended to work in the medical field. I spent over a year working in a hospital after graduation and found it to be a very sad place. That’s when I made the switch to working in the brewery. It is a very happy place to work and I like that about brewing.
What is your favourite style for brewing beers? Please name your special beers?
My favourite style of beer to drink and to brew are pilsners. I like warmer climates and so I enjoy the lighter beers in the hotter weather. When made correctly, they are crisp, clean and refreshing. From a process standpoint they are a bit more difficult to make than ales. They require 2-3 times longer to make and because there aren’t a lot of specialty dark malts or lots of hops, process is key when brewing a pilsner. Any errors will be readily noticeable. I enjoy the challenge and the delicate nature of pilsners. Tell us more about the special beers that you will be brewing for Crafters?
Prashant and I have teamed up to make two beers for Mumbai. We are making one with an influence of my home state of Indiana in the USA and one with an Indian influence. For the American inspired beer we are doing a cantaloupe IPA, as IPAs are easily the most popular beer style in the states and cantaloupes are a nice summer fruit in Indiana. For the India inspired beer, we have chosen to make a dried fig porter. We sourced the figs from the local fruit and spice markets and that was a super cool experience for me. What has been your experience while working with fruits for crafting your beers?
I have worked with fruits before but what has been fun and interesting about working with these ingredients in India is the market! We don’t typically see markets like those here in America and it was really neat to get to talk with the vendors and to try the figs and cantaloupes before we decided to buy them. When I have used fruits before in beers, I have used raw fruits as well as purees. I am really excited for both beers we are making here. I think they will be great. What kind of target audience do you have in mind while crafting your brews?
Its not about what kind of beers I like to make, its about what kind of beers people want to drink! That’s why I like meeting the people who drink my beers and getting to know what they like and want to drink. I’ll make anything and I find it interesting that people like such a variety of beers. And I value everyones opinions from experienced drinkers to people who are new to beers. You don’t have to be super knowledgable about beers to have an opinion of whether or not you’d like a second beer. What are the challenges faced by you while brewing a beer? What are the techniques used for brewing?
Because so much of the work I’ve done has been outside the USA, sourcing ingredients and equipment in parts of the world where I don’t fluently speak the language is definitely challenging. Brewing is very technical and it can be difficult to do with a language barrier. However at this point, I have learned how to find what I need to get the job done and I’ve learned from my mistakes in the past. I can better identify possible barriers to getting what I need. I can expect it might take longer or the laws will be different. Brewing awesome beer requires intention and when you can identify potential issues early on, it will lead to a better brew and a better beer! What is the advice you would like to give to all the brewers in India?
Never stop learning! From your own mistakes as well as from others mistakes, keep an open mind. A wise person knows there are things they do not know. I am always trying to see how other brewers have overcome technical issues or what processes they use to reach certain outcomes in beer. Brewing is very collaborative and I enjoy that aspect of it. How difficult is to be known as a female brewer in the society and the experience so far?
When I first started brewing in the USA, I thought nothing of being a woman or beer being a “man’s job.” I have had some negative experiences throughout my career and at first I didn’t handle them well. But over the years, I have learned when to speak up and when to just brush off these things. It hasn’t always been easy but the rewarding part is watching people drink your beers and be happy! I look at it as an energy transfer. I use my energy to make the beers and people gain energy from drinking them. I try to keep that energy positive. It’s exciting to see so many female brewers enter the brewery. And that is how we make a positive change, we show up and we brew the beers.