As the lockdown ticks away, thousands of precious litres of freshly brewed beer in Delhi-NCR’s microbreweries is making its way to the drain.
In fact, according to a report in The Times of India, about 50-odd breweries in the National Capital Region (NCR) are staring at a loss of about one lakh litres of fresh beer.
A brewery consultant told the newspaper that unlike bottled beer, fresh beer has a short shelf life, and that the cost of keeping it fresh keeps adding as the plant has to be maintained at a specific temperature and monitored daily.
Four weeks ago, when the lockdown was announced, the breweries, not anticipating a complete shutdown, were filled to capacity. Brewers, who have been maintaining their stock since, are now beginning to feel that it’s a lost cause.
They believe that even after the lockdown lifts, people won’t immediately throng bars and pubs because of social distancing and fear of the virus.
Besides, the owners had hoped that they would be allowed to deliver fresh beer in ‘growlers’– ceramic or glass jugs – as is the case abroad. But, of course, that hasn’t materialised.
Lalit Ahlawat of Striker, a popular brewery in Delhi-NCR, told the newspaper, “We had a choice between losing our beer or losing money to keep it. We drained it out on the fourth day of the lockdown.”
The report pointed out that brewers also stand to lose the cost of production but also the license fee (which costs lakhs per month) and duty that they have paid in advance.
Nationa Restaurant Association of India Head (Gurgaon Chapter) Inderjeet Singh Banga has written to the state excise department to defer the renewal of licenses due in April. He said if the authorities support them, they will be able to pay the salaries of their employees.