Revellers from Chennai who regularly hit the road to Puducherry (erstwhile French colony, Pondicherry) to enjoy the sun, sand, and a pint of chilled beer now have another reason to cheer. Catamaran Brewing Co., the Union Territory’s first microbrewery, is starting a first-of-its-kind “beer bus” from Chennai to Puducherry.

Priced at ₹3,000 per person the beer bus, scheduled to make its first trip on April 22, will allow people to enjoy a three-course meal, unlimited craft beers, and a tour of the brewery. But mind you, the beer won’t be served in the bus, contrary to social media posts that give the impression. Depending on the reception for the first trip, the company plans to make it a regular affair.

Prasad Radhakrishnan, Founder, Catamaran Brewing Co., said the idea of the bus came about when a customer jokingly asked for a transport service as it would be safer for tipsy travellers from Chennai who drove to Puducherry, where the beer is cheaper. “The idea is to transport people safely from Chennai to Puducherry, make them experience the nuances of craft beer, and drop them back to Chennai safely on the same day. It’s a good way for groups to come in,” he says. 

Last week, the company posted a promotional flier for the “beer bus,” and it literally flew across social media. “We didn’t expect it to be this viral. Some people are even asking us to operate the bus on a regular basis,” Radhakrishnan says, with a laugh. 

Radhakrishnan and his business partner, Rangaraju Narayanaswamy, began working on the Catamaran Brewing Co. project in 2017. The duo did a lot of research on breweries, scouting for places and working on a brewery license, arranging for funds from friends and family. They got the license in 2019, and just when they were about to begin, the Covid-19 pandemic stuck. Catamaran Brewing Co. finally, officially launched in September 2021. 

It offers craft beer in nine varieties, including Indian Summer (a Belgian Witbier), Hopsunami (an Indian Pale Ale), Chingari Cider (a dry apple cider), and Vox Populi (a dark lager), among others. 

Radhakrishnan said craft beers, unlike commercial beers, are meant to be savoured and not binged upon. He said the trip is also educational, as brewers will explain to visitors how a grain is transformed into beer. A gourmet experience also awaits the travellers as the organisers will show how beer is paired with the finest foods.

But he is categorical that no beer will be served on the bus. “We are going to have a zero-tolerance policy and no alcohol will be served in the bus. Passengers who disturb others will be dropped off at the nearest bus stop,” he says. Now that might take the fizz out of the journey for some, but better safe than sorry. Cheers anyone?