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Brewer Talks: Beer doesn’t make you fat: George Jacob

This interview is a part of Brewer Talks, a continuing series of interviews with the Brewers of the beer brewing community from across the World. Brewer World will share business and personal insights from Brew masters, Head Brewers, Brewing Managers each week to help build the industry network and consumers understand beer well.

The boom in craft brewing and its customers has transformed the global beer market over the last twenty years. It ended a century of consolidation that had resulted in the dominance of a few multinationals and the homogenization of beer. Although they began small, they eventually evolved into a global corporation.

In the beer industry, breweries that have just recently started brewing different types of beer on a small scale can sometimes be described as craft, artisanal, micro, independent, specialty, and local breweries. This is what sets them apart from the large, mass-produced beer that often have been around for over a century and have survived the merger process of the 20th century. Due to the diverse cultures and history of brewing beer in different countries, there is no global consensus on a single definition.

Pioneers of craft beer often got inspiration by interacting with foreign cultures where beer traditions are strong or where a craft beer scene has already flourished. Originally, inspiration crossed East-West over the Atlantic, but it currently goes both ways. One such inspired brewer is George Jacob.

George Jacob, a Fauji Kid is known for The Beer Chronicles. The Beer Chronicles, his brainchild aims at bringing quality and variety Craft Beers to India. George is a Master Brewer with a Brewlab UK certification. He has brewed in many breweries, some of them being Aurum, Hopshaus and Zero40 in India and some breweries in New Zealand and the UK.

George Jacob’s breweries are praised for their quality, and he is very well known for Cask Ales, Sour Beers, and Fruit Beers. His Grapefruit IPA won an international award and is presently brewed at two breweries in England.

Before sinking into the brewing industry, George worked as a techie in New Zealand, India, The Netherlands, Romania, UK, Middle East, Africa, and the USA. Brewer World is elated to have had a conversation with George, and below are the excerpts….

George Jacob, Founder of The Beer Chronicles, takes the centre stage to share his journey with Brewer World.

How has your job as a brewer changed since a few years ago concerning the beer market?

Quite honestly, I love it. As the customers in India develop their palates, they are getting more experimental and opting for new beer styles compared to a few years ago when they would only order a wheat beer.

Who is your mentor in the industry, and why? What have you learned from them?

My mentor is a gentleman named Arthur Bryant, who taught me a lot about brewing. The other brewer I owe a lot to is Matthew, one of the pioneers of the brewing industry in India. Sadly he passed away, but his legacy lives on through so many of us brewers and consumers.

Would you mind telling me a success story as a brewer or how a situation you learned from has impacted how you do your job now as a brewer?

One of my claims to fame is a Grapefruit IPA that won awards in England and is brewed and served across all Head of Steam pubs in the country. When I moved to India, I found that the concept of IPA here is very American-oriented. Being an English brewer, it took me a while to wrap my head around the abundant use of hops in a beer. I believe good beer should showcase all three – malt, hops, and yeast, and not be just an overdose of hops (but that’s just me).

Can you touch on something your brewery has added lately that’s unique or making your business more successful (it could be equipment, technology, or people)?

I believe our business thrives thanks to the efforts and commitment shown by our brewing team and the rest of the team working at the outlets. While anyone may have the best equipment and latest technology, a business will only survive and do well due to the team who works there at the end of the day.

What would you do if you could implement one business strategy to improve the brewing industry?

A more uniform excise policy across this country and consistent implementation of this policy.

How would you describe the biggest myth surrounding the malting and brewing process?

That beer makes you fat! It’s not the beer that gives you a belly; it’s the alcohol. Beer gets the blame because the alcohol calories are easy to overdo. A typical beer is around 150 calories. So, if you down several in one sitting, you can end up with a severe calorie overload.

What do you have to say about the Indian market for Beer Judges or Cicerones?

Every country has its own interpretation of a good beer. While I find it gratifying to see so many in India showing an interest in learning to be a Cicerone or Beer judge, I would genuinely love to see someone take the initiative to create an “Indian style guideline” that is oriented towards the Indian consumers’ palate and not just copy-paste from another country. *hint* *hint* @Brewer world

Your career choice is offbeat, unconventional, and cool. So why did you choose it?

Because I love beer! Nothing more than that.

What is the beer style you like to brew?

As mentioned earlier, I’m an English brewer, and I gravitate towards Real Ales. My favourite beer styles to brew and drink are easy to guess – an English mild or a malty IPA.

What does 2022 look like for craft beer?

All I can hope for is that we beat this terrible virus and can get on with our lives.

How has brewing changed since you began?

Over the years, several improvements have happened with equipment that has simplified the brewing process. The same has allowed a lot more control on so-called automated systems.

Which is the best Brewing School in the World you would recommend for aspiring brewers?

Haha, that’s easy – Brewlab in Sunderland, England.

Heard you are a biker. How do you find time to brew and bike?

Yes, I love bikes and own two Triumphs. I like getting them out early in the mornings and heading for a couple of hours on the highways. I usually go down south to the forests along with my brother who is again a biker. Since we often don’t have a lot of work on Mondays, that’s the day I get to ride.

What other than brewing do you do?

Other than brewing the only other thing I do is Drink (Giggles). I read a lot, I’m also a bit of a gamer and ofcourse bikes.

Tell us about your family.

I have two kids and a loving wife. My wife is the only reason I had the confidence to take the leap of faith and jump into brewing full time by quitting my job of twenty years. They make my life worthwhile.