Microbreweries in slow lane with Chinese equipment makers shutting down factories

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on February 18, 2020


The Coronavirus has impacted the unlikeliest of an industry: the fast-expanding microbreweries in the country.

Nearly 60 per cent of the microbreweries in the country source their equipment from China but with all the factories shutting down there, it is becoming increasingly difficult for these craft beer makers to sustain their businesses.

According to PB Prasad, Director of Chennai-based Prodeb Brewery Technology Pvt Ltd, around 10 microbreweries are being set up in the country every month. “Of these 10, six of them source their equipment from China,” Prasad said.

Prodeb Brewery is one of the biggest equipment manufacturers for microbreweries in India with a 40 per cent market share. Each of the microbrewery costs between ₹50 lakh and ₹3 crore to set up.

Shivkumar Eashwaran, the Joint MD of the company, said there are about 170 microbreweries in the country and over the last year, more of them are being set up. “The margins are higher and after the initial years, the business does become profitable,” Eashwaran said. The company has set up hundreds of plants across the globe and sources technology from Belgium. Prodeb’s breweries feature specially-designed lautering vessel that supports in achieving nearly 96 per cent extraction ― the highest possible extraction in brewing, Prasad said. “The advanced multi-step mash system is quite unique and is the main reason for producing great tasting beer,” he said.

“Most of the microbreweries prefer capacities ranging from five hectolitres to 10 hectolitres. We expect to fill in the gap left by Chinese equipment manufacturers,” Prasad said.

He said India is witnessing a huge boom in the microbrewery market with several professionals from various fields launching on their own with the help of companies like Prodeb Brewery Technology. “We not only provide equipment but also handhold these entrepreneurs to launch their own microbrewery and sometimes fund them as well,” Prasad said. The company also has on its rolls half a dozen brewmasters who are contracted with some of the microbreweries. The brewers are rotated in a minimum of three projects to ensure that even a small brewery avails the expertise of a quality brewer.

The craft beer market in the country is less than 1 per cent of the total size of the beer market in the country but it is one of the fastest-growing in the industry. The total size of the beer market is about 390 million cases (each case consists of 24 bottles) with the demand for craft beer is at about 1.5 million cases.

Eashwaran and Prasad said that several big players are set to enter the microbrewery market. The Playboy and Barbeque Nation are also planning to launch their own microbreweries in the country soon. Scotland-based BrewDog is also planning to launch 30 microbreweries in India.

Published on February 18, 2020

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