Craving a glass of chilled craft beer to beat the summer heat? Well, there is good news for those who were missing their favourite brews in Bengaluru, as the Karnataka Excise Department has allowed microbreweries to sell their existing stock as takeaway till June 30 (or till stocks last). Fresh production is not allowed, and timings are from 9 am to 7 pm; microbreweries located in containment zones will not be open.
This announcement comes after alcohol stores across states opened on May 4 after 40 days of the nationwide lockdown, and after the Karnataka Government, on May 8, allowed clubs, restaurants and bars to sell their existing liquor stock as takeaway till May 17.
With Bengaluru being the hub (the city is home to over 60 microbreweries), places such as Toit, Windmills Craftworks, Byg Brewski Brewing Company, Arbor Brewing Company, The Druid Garden, The Pump House, and The Biere Club posted details of the same, eliciting much joy on social media.
This measure also means some relief for microbreweries, and a means of generating revenue for the State.
Dos and Don’ts
- Social distancing to be followed while standing in line; customers and employees to wear masks
- Maximum of 5 litres per person; 2 litres per container
- Most breweries are selling growlers/containers of 1 litre and half-litre capacity
- Customers can bring their own containers made of glass, ceramic or steel; plastic is not allowed
- Consume within 48 hours. Once opened, drink the beer immediately
- Refrigerate at all times; do not keep in the freezer
Ajay Nagarajan, CEO of Total Environment Hospitality, which runs Windmills in Whitefield, says: “We probably drained about 1,000 litres of beer because it was in the storage tanks for over a month. So now, we have around 3,000 litres left. It was a direct loss of about ₹50,000. Since excise duty and additional excise duty is paid in advance, it was a double whammy.”
Stating that the Craft Brewers Association of India (CBAI) had put in a lot of effort to get the permission, he adds, “Hopefully, this relaxation on the sale of beer as takeaway will help us recover some of those losses.”
Says Sibi Venkataraju, co-founder of Toit in Indiranagar, and director, CBAI, “There is a total of about three lakh litres of beer in various stages of production at all breweries in the city. On an average, each brewery would be losing out on ₹1 crore to ₹1.5 crore revenue each month that it’s shut. That’s the same for any business; we have all had zero revenue. But we have had costs that keep adding up. Which is why we needed some relief so we can manage some of our expenses. After the earlier measures, this is the biggest for us because all of us have so much beer. We are extremely grateful to the Government, because it is the first time in India something like this has been allowed.”
Sibi adds, “People have been getting beer at liquor stores, yet they are still standing in line for craft beer. Which is what Bengaluru is about: the love for craft beer is evident, and for them to say ‘my local brewery, that’s where I want the beer from’… All of us are overwhelmed and surprised by the interest level.”