Gateway Brewing Co’s Kaapi Stout – A Tale Of Collaboration, Craft Beer, Coffee & Cheers
In the previous post we talked about tasting notes and the launch party for Gateway’s Coffee Stout. In this post, we will trace the roots of this brew.
In September 2015, I got a chance to visit Gateway Brewing’s office Mumbai. This was the first time I got to meet Navin Mittal, one of the co-founders. I was invited for a sampling session. Navin greeted me with a warm smile and ushered me into his office where I met Pratik Bavishi and his buddy Abhishek Chichalkar.
We sampled a few different beers that could be potential future releases from Gateway. Pratik had brought along one of his new creations, a coffee stout that all of us absolutely loved – it was like this brew just stood out and said, “Hello look at me!” It was literally love at first sip. All of us new we had a winner here.
Gateway decided to work with Pratik and improve the recipe by brewing smaller test batches with the ultimate goal of brewing a much bigger batch for public consumption. When Navin flew down to Bangalore in October, he brought me another sample to try out with my fellow Craft Beer enthusiasts. We reported back our feedback with a comment about improvement needed to be made to the head on the stout.
In early January, 2016 once the recipe had been perfected, Pratik was invited to brew a 400 litre batch of his beer at Gateway’s Brewery in Dombivli, Thane. The Kaapi Stout was officially launched at Gateway’s second anniversary party on January 28th at Woodside Inn, Andheri West and from my last post you know how well it was received!
It’s always encourage to see a prototype recipe come to life – well done Pratik & Gateway Brewing Co. Bravo!
I had a chance to talk to Pratik and Navin about this Stout and their take on Craft Beer in India and here is what they had to say:
Pratik Bavishi – Brew Chef
Q: What’s your background with Beer and how did you get interested in experimenting with different styles?
Beer has been my go to drink for a while now. But before getting introduced to craft beer I used to await imported beers hitting the shelves at liquor stores/bars. The flavorless mass produced lagers also helped fuel my quest to find good beers. But it was one of my regular business trips to Minneapolis in 2011 in which I got introduced to craft beers by my work mates and then there was no looking back. I started visiting brew pubs and home brew supply stores in USA to not only savor craft beers but also to revel in the culture that this beer revolution got along with it. Also visited homes of my work mates who were home brewers to taste their beers and see their brewing set-up.
Immediately after that trip I started researching on how to brew beers at home and started brewing extract batches. Each passing batch made me more curious about different beer styles which made me crave for more control over my brewing process eventually leading to all-grain brewing.
Q: How did you end up meeting Navin and the rest of the Gateway crew?
Along with savoring their beers and visiting their brewery I had been reading about Gateway and following them on social media for a while and when they announced a internship based project I jumped at the opportunity.
I applied for the internship and got shortlisted for a call with Navin where I was briefed about the project and expectations were set. With 10+ years of work experience in the corporate world I was going back to basics of doing a internship. And believe me I enjoyed every bit of it.Given my Data Analytics background I took upon this market research based project and worked closely with Navin to understand the nuances of the beer industry. And everyone who knows Navin or has spoken to him would know that his passion and enthusiasm for beer just rubs off on you.
Also in the process I met the entire Gateway team multiple times at events and tasting sessions at their office and we all know they are ‘rockstars’. They are the pioneers in setting up the true craft beer culture in Mumbai.
Q: How did you come up with the winning recipe and how is this different from what’s out there in the market today. What challenges were faced especially when transition from a small batch to a much larger batch?
It was absolutely unplanned. Since porters & stouts are one my favorite styles of beer I had been brewing those more often. So for one of the home brew tasting sessions with Navin I had carried a Bourbon Vanilla Porter and Coffee Stout. It did not take Navin more than couple of few swigs of the Coffee Stout to decide that he wanted to do a collab brew on this recipe. We did a few test homebrew batches with different grains and coffees before zeroing on the final list of ingredients.
- In terms of the recipe, one thing that I did different than most others out there is that I added the coffee to the boil process. There are multiple ways of adding coffee in the process. One can add espresso/brewed coffee(cold or hot) to the fermenter or add coffee beans to the fermenter and so on. But adding coffee to the boil gave the brew a subtle coffee taste which played well with the robust notes from roasted barley.
Q: Pratik what are your goals when it comes to Craft Beer? What’s your your vision for the near future – say the next 3-5 years?
My personal goal as of now is to keep brewing different styles of beer at home and keep propagating craft beers to everyone I meet in India. Currently I am enjoying brewing beers and interacting with this close knit community of super passionate people! But whether I want to make a full-time career in craft beer industry is something that has to evolve.
Because I have a great job with a great company right now which allows me to pursue this passion both in terms of time & money ! I also owe this hobby to my current job as I got introduced to craft beers at work in Minneapolis, also my data analysis background allowed me to take up the project with Gateway where I met super passionate people.
The craft beer market will definitely be growing manifold over next 3 – 5 years and which is a given no matter what. But the question we need to ask ourselves is how we want to bring up this child in his formative years?
Do we want to shape this industry on a foundation of money and commercialize it OR do we want to invest time & resources in these 3 – 5 years to educate beer drinkers and graduate them to craft beers and build a culture of bonhomie & localization where money will be a by product anyways? It’s a very tricky balance because money is a reality at the end of the day! So we all have a lot of work to be do ahead of us!
Navin Mittal – Partner | Gateway Brewing Company
Q: Navin, what’s your take on homebrewing and homebrewers?
Home brewing is a very creative hobby and home brewers are extremely important in the craft beer world. Not only do they innovate, they also champion the cause of craft beer by evangelizing and bringing others on-board thereby expanding the market for breweries and craft beer in general. World over, there are 1000s of breweries that have been started by home-brewers and if it wasn’t for them, we would probably be drinking ‘yellow water’ only!
Q: What does India need to do for Craft Beer to really progress?
We have seen decent progress in the craft beer space in India. From 2 brewpubs in 2009 to over 65 across many cities in India. The government needs to make licensing / monitoring and all aspects of control simpler and also help entrepreneurs set up quickly. Every state has different rules / regulations that are cumbersome. They should embrace quality over quantity and realize that small businesses contribute significantly towards the economy. Further, they should reduce duties / provide sops so that these small craft breweries can grow and along with their growth also help other small producers grow their business. UK has reduced duties for craft breweries and other countries also help the local craft breweries. The government should learn from them and be proactive.
Q: What is Gateway’s vision for the next few years and what challenges do you face?
We would like to continue growing in our segment in Mumbai / Pune and then take these beers to other cities in Maharashtra as well. If the government allowed more production (at present, we can produce only 2,00,000 litres) and also bottling, it would ensure a steady growth for us. We are already working with the excise department to shape the policy such that growth is not hindered due to rules / regulations / restrictions which have no meaning whatsoever.
We would like to bottle our craft beer and the biggest challenge is the current policy that doesn’t allow us to.
Q: How can all of us help promote Craft Beer?
Your blog, your interaction and your support along with many other social media experts does definitely help. Keep going and keep spreading the word one craft beer at a time.
This is great. Collaboration / using local ingredients / working with home-brewers will keep things fresh and go a long way in exciting the consumers and enticing them to move on from commercial brews that are like yellow colored soda water.
Thank you Navin & Pratik for all of your valuable insights. One can hope that Craft Brewers across the country will truly continue to innovate, collaborate and be passionate about what they do and create not just mediocre but award winning brews!
Don’t forget to spread the word, pass this along, hit a few likes, pause, drink a few Beers, rinse and repeat!
Oh and do try the Kaapi Stout before it runs out!
Currently you can find the Kaapi Stout on tap at the following 8 locations:
- Woodside Inn – Andheri
- Woodside Inn – Colaba
- Irish House – Kala Ghoda
- Irish House – Bandra
- Bombay Canteen – Lower Parel
- British Brewing Company – Lower Parel
- Palladium Social – Lower Parel
- The Good Wife – BKC
For a listing of all the other outlets that serve other Gateway Beers (except the Kaapi Stout), please find them here:
Gateway Brewing Company Facebook Page – Click Here
Cheers & Stay Frothy!
All Images Courtesy: Tales Of Froth, Gateway Brewing Company