Mumbai’s Latest Flagship Taproom
Mumbai’s first Production Craft Brewery that gave us the infamous “White Zen” now has a customer facing space to call its own.
I remember my first visit to Gateway Brewing Company’s (GBC) corporate office in South Bombay in late 2015. I had connected with Navin Mittal, one of the three co-founders months before but this was the first time I was meeting him in person. A nice cosy, office is where I found myself along with two of Mumbai’s seasoned Beer enthusiasts and after a couple of introductions it was straight into testing out some new test brews.
This was the first time all of us tried the first edition of what was to evolve into the Kaapi Stout. It was brilliant and a few months later was released as a limited edition special in time for their second anniversary. Since then GBC have been releasing some very interesting, unique specials thereby taking their beers to the next level of Craft. That Kaapi Stout though came and went and I was wondering if they would re-release it.
My prayers have been answered and this time GBC have gone the extra mile and opened their very own flagship taproom at BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex). This taproom showcases some of these limited specials in addition to their house Beers and regular seasonals. There’s a well curated food and drink menu to choose from, including a fully stocked bar.
The interiors as you shall soon see are modern yet simple, cosy and comfortable. Designed by Bangalore based Architect, Jatin Hukeri, WAD Design (http://www.wadesign.in/).
Before we dive into the taproom and specials let’s find out what co-founder Navin Mittal has to say about this space.
Navin Mittal Speaks
Please Note: A Review of the Beers during the launch follows this interview, as well as photos and and a description of the launch party. Do Scroll down.
JJ: How and when did the idea of a Taproom come about? Did you guys even imagine when you started Gateway that one day you’d have a flagship taproom?
Navin: We always wanted to set-up a brewpub and while the excise department had a brewpub policy, the pollution board and the industries board did not allow for a fermentation industry to be set up within Mumbai. Pune was different. There was no such issue there. However, in Mumbai, one would have to get policies amended at various departments. We approached the excise department and worked with them to modify the policy such that we could set-up or brewery in an industrial area and supply to various bars and restaurants in Mumbai & Pune. Hence the policy was divided into 2 classes – restaurant micro-brewery and packaging micro-brewery. We wanted people to be able to have a good beer at any bar they would usually go drinking at & not have to come to a particular place to have a particular brand of beer. This strategy seemed to be more encompassing and we embraced it wholeheartedly.
We are proud to be the first packaging brewery in Mumbai. We worked hard to change excise policies and lived through the struggle that one goes through while setting up a new venture. Initially, we had 4 bars that served three of our beers. Now we serve our beers at 80+ venues across Mumbai & Pune. Since our launch, we have brewed over a dozen types of beers experimenting with local ingredients, spices, tea, coffee and many more ingredients that infuse unique flavours in the beers we make. White Zen, our flagship German style beer has now become iconic and even if consumers don’t know it is a craft beer, they still ask for White Zen.
The industry is maturing and there are over a 100 brewpubs / microbreweries across India. Bars & restaurants now fit a draught beer system before they start because they want to serve craft beers. This seems to be the most opportune moment for us to set-up our taproom. The consumers want more craft beer and we want to brew many more different types of beers. At present, we are restricted to 3-4 varieties due to the space constraints at our client bar & restaurants. We want to experiment and create unique beers that delight us and our consumers. We want to give them a choice of at least 12 to 15 different brews with few changing regularly.
JJ: What challenges do you face with distribution vs. operating your own brewpub and now taproom?
Navin: It is too early to tell what challenges we will NOT face at our taproom versus distribution to other bars but know things will be a lot easier as we have full control. Things that are streamlined already are: Taking orders is a breeze. Making sure that the taps are pouring well is a no brainer. Gas supply is handled directly so Gateway Brewing Co., doesn’t have to deal with issues of delivery and cost. Taps / couplers and dispense equipment all belongs to the Taproom. Training is simpler as there is a beer geek on board who is knowledgeable. The Taproom stands for craft beers and there is no hard sell required. All our beers get placed there without competition. It gives us a space to organize events and showcase our experimental brews. A lot more synergies for sure
JJ: Who are the partners involved with the Taproom and how does this model work?
Navin: Suffice to say that the Taproom is a Gateway company and us 3 (Navin, Rahul & Krishna) are is involved in every way. Anand Mittal has been a partner at Gateway right from the start helping us with strategy and growth. We have added Neeraj Patodia, a long time friend, who along with Anand will focus on the Taproom business & expansion while we continue to focus on brewing beers
JJ: How big is the space? How many taps are there on total and tell us about the exclusives on tap at the Taproom? Do you have any favorites? Can we expect more collaboration brews?
Navin: About 2300 sq. ft with a seating for 105 customers. There are 16 taps installed and space for more if needed. At present, apart from Gateway flagships like White Zen, Doppelganger, SideCar and Flip Flop, we have exclusives like Kaapi Stout, Lost Monday, As Vienna as it gets, Monk’s Potion and Guava Ale (aka Punch Nu Ale). These are beers created by me and I love all of them.
My current favorite is the Punch Nu Ale and Monk’s Potion. We will surely collaborate with Pratik B once again and are open to interacting and meeting more homebrewers now that we have space. Collaboration with other breweries is also possible but we haven’t discussed it so far. We are more than open to the idea.
JJ: Are you planning to run any specials like happy hours or promotions?
Navin: Undecided at present as we have just opened and are wrapping our heads around the operations. Having said that, we are very well priced for BKC. 265 for a 300ml glass and 440 for a 500ml glass. In the future, we will plan promotions for sure.
JJ: Who did you end up hiring as your resident Beer Geek and how is that working out?
Navin: We hired Yash Jagasia as the resident beer geek. He was listening to my talk at The Bombay Canteen and he came up to have a word. He is deeply passionate about beers and humble enough to learn rapidly. It’s working out really well. He approaches customers and has been doing very well in explaining the nuance of our beers. He also takes care of stock and tech issues as and when they arise. As we move ahead, he will play a crucial role in training, planning events etc.
JJ: Are food pairings a focus and how do you plan to promote/execute this idea? Honestly we need more emphasis on food pairings with Beer specifically Craft Beer in India! So Bravo.
Navin: Chef Viraf Patel, who is a partner / chef/ Managing Director at Café Zoe is our consulting chef.
Beer is a big part of the food at the Gateway Taproom. We already cook with beer and plan to do many more beer infused dishes / pairings with new beers as and when we launch. For every new beer, we will have a special menu that complements the beer and/or has that beer in it. Educating the consumer is difficult and an on-going effort and we hope to succeed by constantly giving it our best and not giving up.
Some of the dishes made with their Beer/Cider include:
- An assortment of Beer Batter fried appetizers
- Prawn & Barley Risotto (Side Car Cider Butter)
- Half a Roast Chicken (Doppelganger Dunkel jus)
- Pressed Lamb (Doppelganger Dunkel jus)
- Tenderloin Penne (Doppelganger Dunkel jus & butter)
- Chocolate Stout Cake
Pictured Above: Prawn & Barley Risotto & Chocolate Stout Cake
JJ: What would you like to tell the folks who live and work around BKC and the citizens of Mumbai?
Navin: BKC folks, you are damn lucky to have us in your backyard. Until 2014, there was barely and choice in Mumbai. Now, after 4 years in the craft beer space and after having spread craft beers across Mumbai, you guys in BKC have got our flagship! Make the most of it. You will get great craft beers and fabulous food at a reasonable price and we promise to make it an experience you won’t forget.
JJ: Will we ever see a Gateway Brewing loyalty program anytime soon and what about merchandise?
Navin: Absolutely. Merchandise is in the process and loyalty program is in the works too.
So, here are my top picks from what I had during the launch of the Taproom, in no particular order:
Please note that some of these specials are only available at the Taproom.
- Please visit Gateway’s Facebook Page for more information – Click HERE
- You can find the Taproom on Facebook – HERE
The Nitro Kaapi Stout [Taproom Exclusive]
Style: Nitro Stout
Grain Bill: Base Malt, GBC Roasted Barley, GBC Dark Crystal
Hops & Additions: Magnum Hops & Crushed Coffee
A special release in Jan 2016 to celebrate Gateway’s 2nd anniversary and the recipe a collab brew from my buddy Pratik Bavishi
Infused with Coorg Coffee this masterpiece is a winner for all Stout heads who love that creamy, velvety rich mouthfeel, roasted bitterness with a dose of coffee greatness.
Lost Monday (Sold Out)
Style: Belgian Style Golden Ale
Grain Bill: Base Malt
I’m a fan of all things Belgian especially Belgian yeast. The lost Monday is like having your favorite Abbey Blonde or Golden Ale in front of you. Sundays do get blurry with this one. Sniff away and savor those fruity esters and spicy phenols.
Monk’s Potion (Taproom Exclusive)
Style: Belgian Dark
Grain Bill: Base Malt, Special B, Roast Malt
Additives: Coriander & Earl Grey Tea
Belgian dark ales similar to dubbels get their character from the malts and adjuncts used and the yeast. Hops take a back seat here. You can typically expect lots of bready, sweet fruity aromas with these styles.
The Monk’s Potion is combines these typical notes but is surprisingly different & rather unique thanks to the infusion of Earl Grey Tea and coriander. Highly addictive, I must warn you. If you loved Darling Jee, this is the dark side of Darling Jee.
Ooh la laaa. God Bless the Monks at GBC!
AS Vienna As It Gets
Style: Vienna Lager
Grain Bill: 100% Vienna Malt
Floral aromas, crystal clear and lots of caramel notes. Look at that color. This is what every lager should be – crispy yet full of character and extremely sessionable.
Flip Flop White IPA
Style: Belgian Wit meets an IPA
Grain Bill: Base Malt, Wheat Malt
Hops: Magnum, Chinook & Citra
White IPAs – a marriage made in heaven – one of my favorite styles where a Belgian Wit meets an IPA. What’s so special? You get that richness and graininess from the wheat malt, the citrus from the Wit and dry hopping with American C hops gives you loads more citrus and tropical fruit character.
A white IPA that’s as casual as can be but dry hopped with lots of citrus and green mango on the nose but delicately bitter on the palate, this is indeed a gateway into the wonderful world of hops for those accustomed to low bitterness beers.
Well done Team Gateway 🍻
The soft launch for the taproom was on Sunday, August 6th, a day after International Beer Day.
This launch was designed for those from the Beer/F&B industry and like an GBC event turned out to be a great time. It was great to catch with the GBC team and my fellow Beer Geeks in Mumbai.
Here’s a few snippets from the wonderful launch. I honestly can’t wait to head back to Mumbai and sit down for more exclusive pints paired with some good wholesome food at the taproom.
If you do find yourself in Mumbai and can make it to BKC, a visit here will be worth your while. Don’t just take my word for it. Go & see for yourself!
Thank you for reading this entire post – yes, it’s rather lengthy but the devil is in the details!
Cheers & Stay Frothy!
JJ The Keg
Where to Find Gateway Beers
Godrej BKC, Unit 3, Plot C – 68, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai
Phone: 022 26534748
Facebook: Click HERE
Gateway Brewing Company
Facebook Page: Click HERE
All Images Courtesy: GBC, GBC Taproom & Tales Of Froth