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Arbor Brewing Company: India’s First American Craft Brewery

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Arbor Brewing Company (ABC) India opened its doors on December 1, 2012 to a teeming city of 9 million thirsting for good beer. The brewery is literally a dream come true for Bangalore native Gaurav Sikka who fell in love with craft beer at the Arbor Brewing Company Pub & Eatery while studying at the University of Michigan.

Upon returning to his hometown after college, Sikka discovered an India on the cusp of its own craft brewery renaissance. Much like in the U.S., the march of the 20th century saw the consolidation of India’s beer market into the hands of fewer and fewer large players. The production of ales had all but ceased across the country by the 1960s leaving a couple dozen huge breweries mass-producing a mere handful of generic-tasting lager-style beers. Sound familiar?

With the recent passage of brewpub laws across India, small pub breweries are now opening their doors to the eager beer-drinking masses in Delhi, Pune, Bangalore and beyond, in the first ripple in a tidal wave of craft beer that is certain to wash over the sub-continent over the next two decades.

Sikka first contacted ABC owners Matt and Rene Greff in 2009 when it appeared that a brewpub law in the state of Karnataka was on the horizon. When the Greffs visited Sikka to get a feel for the country and to talk about the possibility of forming a partnership, they were surprised to discover a new generation of western-educated, upwardly mobile Indians, no longer willing to settle for generic, mass-produced domestic beers or over-priced imports pushed out by huge suppliers.

According to ABC founder and head brewer Matt Greff, “There is a rapidly expanding market of beer drinkers emerging in India’s densely populated urban centers who are craving the fresh, all-natural, hand-crafted, locally-brewed, world-class beer that until the past couple of years had been unavailable to them.”

Arbor Brewing Company is one of the craft beer pioneers helping to introduce a new world of flavors, styles, and creativity to Indian beer lovers and connoisseurs with the opening of their beer-centric 12,000 square foot brewpub in the heart of Bangalore’s bustling commercial district.

ABC India features a classic American pub menu with burgers, pizza, nachos, salads and pastas, with an authentic American flare often enhanced with a spicy Indian twist. The beer line-up includes many of ABCs award-winning recipes from home:

  • Bollywood Blonde – a hybrid style biere de garde spiced with orange peel and coriander
  • Michael Faricy’s Irish Stout
  • Bangalore Bliss – hefeweizen
  • Big Ben Pale Ale
  • Phatt Abbot Tripel
  • Sacred Cow IPA – renamed Raging Elephant for the Indian market.

ABC has also added a few specialties developed especially for the Indian palate:

  • Chai PA
  • Garam Masala Pale Ale
  • Pineapple Blonde

The Greffs will be joining head brewer Logan Schaedig in Bangalore in February and March to fill the tanks and host a series of beer tasting and media events to officially kick off the new venture. The brewery will be launching with seven beers at an invitation-only event onFeb., 21 at 7 p.m. and then the beers will be available to the public on Feb. 22.