We Chat With The Team Behind Bombay Duck Brewing | Stay Tipsy
In a world of premium lagers and popular brands, the taste of a cold homegrown brew lingers on, even after your glass stands empty. That’s the magic of brews and ales that are crafted carefully, close to home.
With this week’s Stay Tipsy, we’re offering you a glimpse into the Bombay Duck Brewing. Bombay Duck Brewing is the brainchild of four friends – Abhishek, Harshit, Rahul and Sohil. This craft brewery takes pride in churning out hand crafted, artisanal ales. They draw inspiration from ingredients that are available across the country and are trying to explore Indian territories when it comes to brewing beer.
What has your journey so far been like? Walk us through it.
Bombay Duck Brewing started off as just an idea between four friends. But as they say, it’s the small ideas that often lead to big things.
The big break came when Abhishek ended up moving to Dallas, Texas for a new job. He rekindled the interest with a homebrew kit from Amazon and brewed his first batch in 2012. Weekends were spent brewing at friends’ backyards and garages, grilling BBQ and brewing beer and weekdays, in planning recipes. We then decided to set up a microbrewery in our hometown, Bombay. Between the four of us, we felt we had the resources and experience required to jump into the beer business.
You talk about creating ‘handcrafted, artisanal ales’. What exactly do you mean by that?
Personally, brewing is our ‘Wabi-Sabi’: that eternal pursuit of imperfection by valuing authenticity over everything else. It always starts with us imagining a recipe and being as true as we can during the brewing process to reach as close as we can to what we aimed to create. This is something large scale commercial breweries 20 times our size churning mass produced beers don’t have the luxury of. No amount of money in the world could buy personal touch and passion that a craftsman devoted to her/his craft has within. And that is what a handcrafted, artisanal ale is, a pure expression of a brewer’s love for the craft.
What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
Abhishek says, “I started home brewing in 2012, purely as a hobby. Through the years, I’ve come to realize that it’s been that one thing for me that I never tire of. It’s that one thing that I’m excited about every morning. Being able to do that for a living is kind of a dream come true for me, and amongst many things I like about running BDB, this has to be my favourite. Not coming from a brewing industry background, there is so much to learn that it gets pretty overwhelming and exciting at the same time. I get to do what I love the most and have a beer at the end of the day!”
“For me, it is simply talking about a product that I truly believe in. If only I had a rupee for every time I heard people at our events taste our beers and say ‘I’m not a beer drinker, but I love this!’ With our constant endeavour to always be immersed in the city’s communities, I get to interact and collaborate with brands that I look up to or prefer picking up when I walk down a shopping aisle. This freedom that we’re being given to talk about a product that we so strongly believe in is my favourite thing about what I do here.” puts in Pooja Pangtey from the team.
What do you think people are looking for today from a homegrown brewery such as yours?
The next big thing definitely has to be more locally grown ingredients. Beer brewing, at the end of the day, started out as an allied value-added agronomic activity to farming and we would like to see more farmers taking an interest in growing barley, hops and other ingredients which can be showcased in locally made beer. We brewed a batch with a local variety of rice last year, popularly known as ambemohar which was received pretty well.
What is it that you do differently from the rest?
We believe the best ideas come from the bottom-up and not top-down. In most companies, strategic decisions lie at the higher levels and the teams working lower down in the hierarchy carry out and implement those ideas, and the inherent hierarchy can mean artificial authority wins. For instance, an idea for our next greatest beer doesn’t necessarily have to come from the brewing team. We have a small pilot system which is our test kitchen that everyone in the organization has access to that is used for new recipe development and formulation. If someone has an idea for a beer that they want to try out, all they have to do is to reach out to the right people with the necessary skill set and have a go at it.
The focus on sustainability is another aspect that is very close to our hearts that we hope to differentiate ourselves by, right from sourcing ingredients to the conscious steps we take to minimize our environmental footprint. Being a small brewery often means that this comes at a prohibitively high cost of doing business but that is one of those things which is not negotiable.
What are some of the ingredients used in your brews and what are the flavour varieties available?
We like to collaborate with other businesses and people who share our passion and values. The Chocolate Stout with Mason & Co. was brewed with their cacao nibs which we served at Magazine Street Kitchen for a Danda Food Project dinner. We did a brown ale which used freshly roasted coffee beans from Blue Tokai, basically marrying two of our favorite things – beer and coffee.
In terms of local ingredients, we’re playing around with a local variety of rice called ambemohar in a cream ale and some seasonal mangoes from Vrindavan Farms in a fruited sour ale. One of the crazier ingredients we used was Katsuobushi for a Japanese dinner we co-hosted with our friends at The Omakase Kitchen.
So the next time you’re at any of the night markets or festivals in the city, keep your eyes peeled for Bombay Duck Brewing. Right now, we wouldn’t mind one of their Chocolate Stouts ourselves!