International Beer Day: Cheers to the golden liquor

Bornika Das & Pranav Jalan
Friday, 7 August 2020

With the International Beer Day knocking at our doors, plans have already started popping in with a ting-sound of the notification on one's mobile phone, with the nation gearing up for a virtual celebration of the day.

Served up cold, frothy and strong, beers have benchmarked itself to be one of the favourite and oldest beverages of the world. What politicians aim to do, beers somehow manage; uniting people in a common cause for good. With the International Beer Day knocking at our doors, plans have already started popping in with a ting-sound of the notification on one's mobile phone, with the nation gearing up for a virtual celebration of the day.

Beer has been a companion of humankind since ages. The obsession over brewing beers streams down from ancient Babylonia and Mesopotamia. Archaeologists have unearthed multiple recipes for beer written on clay tablets in 4,300 BC and on ceramic vessels from 3,400 BC. By the Middle Ages, Christian monks started brewing beers and introduced the use of hop. Till then, beers were brewed with local additives like dates and olive oils to add flavours. The craft of brewing beers that employs age-old techniques has been carefully perfected over centuries and millennium.

Jesse Avshalomov, back in August 2007, came up with an idea to celebrate the collective love for beer and named it International Beer Day. 

It all started from a small local event in Santa Cruz of California, which slowly became famous across the globe, spanning across 207 cities, 80 countries and six continents. As a ritual, it is celebrated on the first Friday of August every year. The day is aimed at celebrating the craft of brewing and showing gratitude towards all the brewers. 

2020 unfolds dreadfully with the COVID-19 outbreak. The world has come to a halt, and India is no exception. To prevent social gatherings, all the festivities are either being celebrated digitally or with several guidelines issued by the administrators. People are bewildered upon the fact whether this year's International Beer Day would go dry. The beer industry has been left in the lurch due to the prolonged ban on the sales of alcohol during the lockdown induced by the coronavirus. 

Sakal Times caught up with owners of few of the top brewery owners in Pune. 

Arun George, the founder of pH4 Food and Beverage Private Ltd., which owns TOIT micro-brewery in Kalyaninagar, tells us, "This pandemic has affected the business very badly. Beer takeaways and dine-in together give us around 5-7 per cent of the revenues we used to earn pre-COVID. This is not sustainable." 

After the reopening of the liquor store, there has been a hike in the price of beer which has made the buyers give a second thought of buying it. 

The country has 90 medium to large scale brewers and over 200 microbrewers which produce over 330 million cases of beers annually, are already in dismay due to the sudden cease of a huge production. All this won't lead to the termination of such a wonderful day. Celebrating with friends and family, International Beer Day is not about finding an excuse for having a pint of beer but thorough respect for all the brewers working on-field, trying with each passing day to make those special events ultra-special, with cheers to beers. Maybe not full-fledged, but the public can certainly desire for a minor celebration. 

Upesh (Manu) Gulati, the owner of another micro-brewery, Effingut, showed its customers little hope stating, "Keeping specials are a part of our service. We would love to get back to our customers. Tomorrow is the International Beer Day, and we are running an offer on all beers at Rs 299 for takeaways, of course." He added, "We are looking forward to Oktoberfest. It is the season we will have a special beer for the fest. Looking forward to it."

Here's how micro-breweries in Pune are operating during the pandemic:

The unlock has not brought any good tidings for the bars and pubs as far as serving alcohol is concerned. The pubs and bars are considered as official places for celebrating the International Beer Day; however, with limited timings and a whole lot of guidelines issued against coronavirus, they are going to have a rough time. After all, beer is among the most social things in the world and when we suffix distancing, it sort of punctures the fun. 

George did shed some light on the preventive measures and assures the safety of his customers by affirming that, "Table layouts have been changed as per the distancing norms. We allow cross-ventilation by incorporating more open spaces, and all our staffs were masks and gloves. Tables/chairs are sanitised after every use. All these are set to become norms in the post-COVID era. At least until a vaccine or an established cure is found!"

Profits have been impeded with fewer footfalls. Especially with the availability of online services of beers, the wish for a grandeur celebration at pubs and bars has been curbed on such a day. The owners of the bars and pubs, as well as micro-breweries, are switching their focus from dine-in to takeaways to cope up with the major loss. With delight, Gulati, the Effingut MD, stated, "We will be happy to supply our beers to the customers for takeaway. So, it's rather a party at your house. You can order online, alcohol, your craft beer and your food. We are happy to send over to your house." 

Maybe, it's the time for us to raise a toast to the brewers virtually. Make your small dining room the pubs of your mood and celebrate the day digitally with beer of your wish.

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