Everything You Need To Know About The Goa Brewing Co. | Stay Tipsy
Slowly but steadily, in an era of run-of-the-mill lagers, India is hitching onto the craft beer wagon. A good glass of beer cannot just be credited to your average mix of barley malt and yeast; it must also be credited to the team and thought behind it.
While there are now plenty of homegrown breweries in the city, we’re taking you to your (other) favourite coastal town with today’s #StayTipsy. Meet Goa’s homegrown craft beer brewery, The Goa Brewing Co. With their mission to produce ‘non-conformist modern’ beers, this one’s all heart, with a team that loves creativity as much as they love a good ol’ brew.
And so, we chatted with Suraj Shenai, Founder and CEO of The Goa Brewing Co., about his brainchild. He comes with an impressive roster of brands in his portfolio, from the Taj group of hotels to the Pernod Ricard premium spirits group. He finally quit his corporate job to follow his dreams and today, he manages his own brewery in Goa and is loving every single bit of it. Read on to discover what he had to say!
Take us through your story — how you started, your journey so far, etc.
On a flight to NYC I managed to try the Goose IPA and I was shocked by the aroma and flavors. I realized that back home we had been drinking watered down lagers. The next three weeks passed visiting multiple breweries.
I returned to India to search for a brewer who shared the same level of passion. Then I met Ash who, after doing a PHD in Brewing in the UK, had come back to teach. We hit it off and began brewing on the weekends in a homebrew kit and then scaled it up in a nano brewery. We realized that all the commercial breweries were massive and designed to brew watered down lagers and the end result was a compromised product. That changed everything.
I’d maxed out my credit card by then and I decided to set up a brewery in Goa, my hometown, and began pitching to venture funds. All we had was an ice-box with the beers we’d been working on for a year, and a business plan. I made pitch presentations in person to over 30 odd funds which took 8-9 months before DSG and Saama Capital said ‘Hey, we love the idea and beers!’ And there you go!
You talk about creating “non-conformist, modern beers”. What exactly do you mean by that?
Non-conformism is hardwired into our DNA, right from the early homebrew experiments. If there is a rule, we will first break it. We don’t follow any style in particular like the classical Belgian or German breweries. This lets us experiment with the most important aspect of beer – the “flavour” – by being open to ingredients that can come from Japan to Goa.
Tell us a little about the brewery — its set-up, functioning and more.
The brewery is set up in a 250-year-old heritage Goan home where we have the best modern brewing equipment custom-made for the styles of beer that we like to make. We have probably the best lab for any craft brewery of our size with batches that get scaled up to go through a lot of experimentation where each aspect is played with. For the IPAs, we even play with the mineral composition of beer to give it the soft mouthfeel that rounds off the bitterness.
We plan on using the other spaces to start brewer training classes and some interesting pop-up collaborations. The rest of the property is where we are trying permaculture farming for the first time and attempting at being close to zero waste.
What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
When we brew big batches, the brewing process starts early at 5:30 in the morning and goes on till 1 am the following day. The whole team is in the brewery lending a hand, as the work is physical and backbreaking. Quitting my corporate job and getting to work with my hands is definitely my favourite thing.
What do you think people are looking for today from a homegrown brewery such as yours?
Creativity backed by guts to take risks is required to make products that can be unique, and challenge the best in the world. We are a young craft brewery (started in 2018) from Goa, and we take immense pride in that. In India, alcobev companies have forced a stereotype of Indian products being inferior and we believe that people are looking for a brand that produces superior products and takes pride in doing so. We sure take pride in where we come from and we brew world-class beers.
What is the key message you want the brand to be giving out?
At Goa Brewing Co., we think of our brand as ‘free spirited’, stemming from the free spiritedness of Goa and apply it to our beers, packaging and every aspect of our company. We challenge the status quo, are not afraid to fail and are brewing beers that are modern by a global standard.
What is it that you do differently from the rest? (in terms of other breweries and their strategies)
We brew seasonally and brew in small batches. All our beers are full of personality and start off as a thought. For example, for the Pineapple Saison, we wondered what the perfect beer to have on a hot afternoon after a swim in the sea would be. Or with Eight Finger Eddie IPA, the thought was what would you love to drink while watching your favourite Netflix show. All our beers come from a strong individualistic space, contrary to the “all-pleasing” “safe” or “wheat” beers that most breweries brew. We want to cater only to the young Indians who, like our beers and us, are highly individualistic.
What are some of the ingredients used in your brews and what are the flavour varieties available?
We source the most interesting quality ingredients from our diverse Indian subcontinent and from across the world, be it hops from Yakima Valley, Sancho pepper from Japan or Gondhoraj lemons from Bengal.
How does one sign up for a tour, if any?
If you would like to visit our brewery, you can send us a direct message on Instagram and we’ll arrange a tour for you.
The Goa Brewing Co. doesn’t sound like any other homegrown craft brewery now, does it? They are a passionate, efficient team of people who truly believe that creativity is key and who believe in what they produce and sell. Anyway, we sure know where to go to for a great brew the next time one of those many Goa plans is (finally) on. Do you?