Microbreweries enjoy bull run amid beer supply woes in Gurugram

By Bagish Jha for Times of India on May 3, 2018

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GURUGRAM: The continuing shortage of bottled beer due to delay in registration of labels has turned out to be blessing for the city’s microbreweries. With restaurants and bars unable to supply beer almost all of April, footfall at microbreweries has increased in the last few weeks.
Supply of liquor and beer has dried up of late because of the time-consuming and complex process of re-registration of labels.

Most labels have now been registered, but normalisation of supply may take another week. An excise official claimed that approval to most labels was given, but shortage persists due to supply chain issues.

With soaring temperatures, demand of beer has increased, but people are being forced to quench their thirst at microbreweries. “Summer is peak season for beer sales,” said Inderjeet, owners of Pirates of the Grill and Prankster, adding demand for fresh beer has increased with availability of bottled beer affected.

The owner of Brewer Street and Agent Jack, Rohit Yadav, also said demand for fresh beer has spiked.

“People usually prefer fresh beer, but there is a market for bottled beer as well. With shortage in supply of bottled beer, demand for fresh beer has increased,” said Yadav.

Rahul Singh, president of National Restaurants Association of India, who owns the Beer Café chain, said they are hoping the issues with supply of imported beer will be resolved in the next few days.

“eGras is working well and supplies have been augmented. Very soon, we’ll have all brands stocked up. We thank the excise department for addressing our concerns with utmost urgency,” said Singh, adding till March, there were 38 beer brands available in Gurugram pubs and restaurants.

But with the new excise policy coming into effect on April 1, and the new excise portal not working for two weeks, restaurants could not order any stock.

The portal is back in operation and so far, around 30 labels have been re-registered and are available. The remaining labels are likely to come back in the mar-ket soon.

Lakeforest Wines, which bagged the 2018 license for imported foreign liquor, said re-registration is an annual feature and that everyone is aware of disruption in supply for 15-20 days.

Elaborating further, Sherry Sudan, country head of Lakeforest Wines, said that while labels are registered in Gurugram, they get approval from Chandigarh only thereafter.

“Holograms are then sent to Manipal for printing. Supply follows only after they reach the supplier. “It takes around 20 days. We’d asked all bars and restaurants in March to stock up for April,” said Sudan.

Countering the argument of restaurants owners, that beer is perishable and can’t be stored for more than a week, Sudan said more than bar and restaurants, it’s liquor retailers who suffer the most.

“Imported beers (beers that are bottled outside India) take four months to reach India, and have an expiry date of one year. Indian beer has expiry date of six months,” said Sudan.

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