We Chat With The Master Brewer From Drifters Breweries | Stay Tipsy
Honza Kocka is a brew master from Prague, also known to be the Czech beer evangelist. Through his travels around the world, he has been popularising Czech beers, wherever he goes.
Nayan and Sheetal Shah setup Drifters Breweries in order to introduce a new dimension to the brewing scene in India. Along with Honza as their master brewer, this team is looking forward to introducing Indian taste buds to the new and upcoming Eastern European brewing techniques and flavours.
We decided to interview Honza Kocka, the master brewer from Drifters Breweries, to learn more about his work and plans for this new venture.
How did you come up with Drifters Breweries? Is there a story behind the name of your brand?
A drifter is someone who traverses far and wide to explore the best of what they love. Drifters Breweries, established by Nayan and Sheetal Shah, was born out of the need for handcrafted beers in Mumbai. Roaming the streets of countries across Europe, Australia and North America in search of the best beer, brought us together. Moving like Drifters to achieve our desire led us to name this venture- Drifters Breweries.
You are a brew master from Prague. Tell us about your brewing journey. How did it all start?
In 2001 I visited big beer festivals in the UK and USA. This created a curiosity and love for craft beers in me. That love and desire to create my own craft brews led me to home brewing. Finally, in 2005, I started brewing commercially. I then, established my own brand called NOMAD in Prague. Later I started judging many beer competitions around the world.
In 2016, I met Nayan and Sheetal Shah in a beer fest in Bratislava and that led to an opportunity to brew in India for Drifters Breweries.
Did you notice any difference in the tastes of Indian beer drinkers, when compared to the ones back at home?
As we all know there is always a difference between palates of people from different countries. With beers, the same concept applies.
In India people like to drink beers which are fuller in body and are on the sweeter side. I think, the reason behind this is their food. Indians tend to have more spicy food, which is why they need a little sweet and easy drinking beer to go with it. Beers with wheat and lager varieties would work more in India, but back in Prague we like bitter beers like IPAs and stouts more.
Before we started, we went on a beer trip in India. We covered cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, in order for me to design the beers according to the Indian taste. In my brews, I have created a balance between Indian and Eastern European tastes, so people can still differentiate my beers from other brands in India. Because of this reason, we import our own ingredients, such as original handcrafted floor malted malts and Bohemian hops from Prague. This sets our beers apart. Nobody has the same ingredients, nor do they have the same European brewing techniques, that I possess.
You have a brewpub opening up soon. Tell us more about this venture.
Drifters Breweries is opening a new brewpub in BKC, Mumbai, very soon. We have named it, Drifters TapStation. We are doing something unique with this outlet by serving 24 of our own brewed craft beers on tap, which I think no other brewery has done before.
We want to showcase our beers and our diversity of brewing different styles of beers, through our brewpub. With this outlet, we will be doing food pairing with different types of beers.
Back in Prague, you conduct workshops, invite guest brewers and have beer tasting events at your beer shop. Do you have the same plans for your upcoming brewpub here in India?
Yes, definitely! We are looking forward to start tasting sessions and brewery workshops soon after we open. We are also introducing a range of merchandise which you could buy from our outlet, or even online. Later on, we will start selling brewing supplies and equipment for home brewers too.
What does the future look like for Drifters Breweries?
We have designed all our beers in such a way, that Indians will love it with their food. Therefore, I think there is scope for the future expansion of Drifters TapStation to other cities in Maharashtra. We will also be starting our beer distribution to other bars and pubs across Maharashtra soon after we open our first outlet. Our long-term plan is to bottle our beer and to distribute it across India and foreign markets.
24 beers on tap, sounds like one deal we can’t say no to. We can’t wait to get our hands on this brew master’s famous brews, and we know you cannot either! So, Mumbai, are you ready for some Czech magic coming your way?