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Sour & Pale: Here’s what India’s 2020 craft beer forecast looks like

2019 has been a roller coaster with burgeoning craft beer sales and new brews being dropped into beer aisles every few months.

We canvassed 7 talented brewers to share their opinion on beer trends of the year gone by, and what they expect 2020 to bring in. Below, are the questions we asked:

  1. What popular trends have you noticed in the year 2019 in India?
  2. As a brewer what trends do you expect to see in the year 2020 and would these be in line with what you wish for the growth of the beer industry? If not, please elaborate.

They offered us insights on wheat beer sales, and made some interesting predictions on the subject of sour beers and IPAs. Read on to know more:

Jeffin John

Brewmaster at Toit, Indirangar, Bengaluru

Answer 1

Wheat beers are selling more – that’s a trend that’s picked up all over India, not just in Bengaluru but in our Pune and Mumbai outlets as well over the last bunch of years. However, in 2019, people have started leaning towards IPAs. Generally speaking, our IPA sales are gradually increasing; as compared to 2018, the sales have definitely picked up. Additionally, we also brewed a few sour beers which did really well. To summarize the last year, I can say both IPAs and sour beer did well across all breweries, although I have noticed that in Bangalore, people generally lean towards different types of IPA, sour beer and barrel aged beers.

Answer 2

2020 is certainly going to see more of sour beers. Most breweries are also coming up with different styles of IPAs like New England IPA, Hazy Double IPA and milkshake IPA; I think that’s definitely another trend that’s going to gain popularity.

I wish to see all beer styles sell equally well. I also hope people are more open to choosing experimental beers like different styles of IPA and sour beer.

Dr. Ashtavinayak Paradh

Brewmaster and Owner at Goa Brewing Co.  

Answer 1

While Witbiers and Hefeweizen have remained popular styles in India for a while now, we saw new evolved styles like hazy IPAs and heavily dry hopped craft beers make an entry. On the other side, there were small batches of dry hopped lagers and fruit forward beers along with sours. Stouts, porters and Belgian specialty like Dubbel and Tripels also made special appearances. However, these styles were limited both in terms of volumes and popularity.

Answer 2

In my opinion, trends of brewing dry hopped beers will still continue in the year 2020. I foresee Imperial versions of beers with a rounded body and increased alcohol percentage come into play. Experimentation with craft lagers and sours will be continued by Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore based breweries. However, Witbier and Hefeweizen will still be the mass-preferred styles in the year 2020.

Also, it’s important to note that non-alcoholic beers have gathered attention in 2019 and that sector is slowly growing hand-in-hand with clean eating. I see this becoming trend now as well.

George Jacob

Brewmaster at Beer Chronicles

Answer 1:

I’d say we are still a wheat beer nation. Majority of the people are still going for wheat beer because we have just entered into the craft beer market. Over the last one year in our outlet, I have noticed people have started trying the IPAs. Certainly, our IPA sales have gone up in 2019, in comparison to our 2018 sales. Still, our wheat beer sales are still almost 60%.

So to summarise 2019, I’ve seen people choosing a lot of wheat beer but some of the IPAs and hoppy beer styles have been picking up too.

Answer 2:

In 2020, I feel wheat beers will continue as a popular trend but I’m sure over time, a lot of other styles will pick up as well as there are some very good beers being brewed these days.

I hope for more and more people to try experimenting with IPAs and hoppy beer styles instead of just sticking with wheat beer. I know many brewers are experimenting with new beer styles and people really should open up and try them.

Vidya Kubher

Head Brewer at Geist

Photo Credit: dtnext

Answer 1:

Wheat beers continued to be popular in 2019. 

Answer 2:

The trend seems to point to Craft Lagers in 2020.

I’d like to see more Wild Beers & Sour Beers. I think there’s a palate for them.

Rohit Parwani

Brew Head at Bier Club

Answer 1:

Hazy IPAs have picked up steam along with sour beers. People’s palates are getting more and more diverse

Answer 2:

Hard to say, I didn’t expect the hazy IPAs to get so popular in 2019, it’s anyone’s guess it really depends on the seasons. Nothing specific in mind yet but we’re working on some unique combinations of herbs & spices rather than fruits.

Amar Shrivastava

Brew master at Brew Star Solution

Answer 1:

The best thing of 2019 was the fact that Delhi got its first microbrewery. That’s something we have been waiting for years! I also see microbreweries spreading wings and expanding to two tier cities in India. So definitely, this is going to improve the reach and existence of Indian microbreweries in general.

As far as new beer brand are concerned, a lot of Belgian wheat like Belwit are being launched and becoming popular new commercial beers, while replacing industrial Lagers. While this has created a vacuum in the market, it also gives hope that there is a possibility of success for a new product.

Answer 2:

I feel the Indian beer industry is in an RnD phase right now, and will most probably continue to be. There are so many beer styles left to be explored. So many Indian raw materials that are yet to be tapped for brewing beer. Unlike the microbreweries, who constantly brew and serve a hundred different styles, the only two styles that I see being explored by the bottling brands are Belgian wits or lagers.  So in my opinion, 2020 will definitely see plenty of experimentation with beer styles and hopefully, more consumers will be open to trying these out.

In addition to wishing that Indians get introduced to more beer styles in 2020, I also hope that the beer industry is a lot more open to trying new ingredients. For instance, tomorrow, if I want to brew a beer style with spices, I may have some answering to do if someone asks me about it, since nowhere in the books is it mentioned that spices can be used to brew beer. The more ingredients one can play around with, the more fun is the experimentation and the better the styles.  If that can happen, the sky is the limit for new beer trends, not just in the year 2020 but also in the future.

Karthik Singh

Brew master at The Yellow Submarine

Answer 1:

We definitely see a lot of sour beers on taps now than we did a few years ago. But I think the greatest trend I’ve noticed is that we saw an unprecedented number of “collaboration beers” where brewers and breweries got together to develop something truly unique and innovative by learning from each other. We at The Yellow Submarine had over 6 different collaborations with multiple breweries across the country, which was a fantastic experience for us, personally.

Answer 2:

I think trends from 2019 will definitely continue through the New Year; in India, beer trends don’t come and go as quickly. I wish to see our customers accept and be open to a much wider range of styles that are available at each brewery than the usual light wheat-based beers.