Raising a toast to Goa-made craft beer

A new brand of craft beer from brewery unit, Latambarcem Brewery, founded by Ishan Varshnei and Anish Varshnei, is creating a stir in the world brewing community, finds out Shoma Patnaik

Goa’s scenic villages have overwhelming charm. The picturesque landscape and the local vibe continue to draw people from all over the world.  Brothers Ishan Varshnei and Anish Varshnei liked the state so much that they decided to chuck their jobs in the US and permanently move to Goa. 

The brothers working as an investment banker and chef in New York were anyway looking to switch lanes to   entrepreneurship. “Our parents had already relocated to Goa. We decided to join them and start our venture here,” says Ishan Varshnei, co- founder and chief executive officer, Latambarcem Brewery.

Both the brothers had no experience in brewing or in the alcohol industry but decided to combine their expertise in finance and gourmet food to make truly great craft beer, a type of beer that is highly popular among beer enthusiasts these days and places strong emphasis on quality and innovation. The brothers decided to set up an international standard brewery for the domestic as well as the international market.

“We wanted to set up our unit in the interiors. Somewhere in outskirts and with the typical  appeal of Goa. It had to be in the middle of the forest where people would spend the day and visit the brewery and make it feasible for us in future to sell the brewery experience,” says Ishan.

The brothers set up the unit in Latambarcem, Bicholim and finding the name intriguing decided to christen their company after the village. They believe that their company fits in well with the Latambarcem village community.

The company was founded in October 2017 and makes two beverages- a non-alcoholic drink Kombucha under the brand name of Borecha and craft beer under Maka Di brand. While Borecha was launched in 2019, the craft beer launched just few weeks back on October 1 2020.

Kombucha is a sweet, non-alchoholic, tea-based fizzy drink fermented by bacteria, yeast and  sugar, and tea. The beverage is said to be of Japanese origin and more than 5,000 years.  “Kombucha is low in calorie and sugar. It is a healthy beverage and trending around the world in the US, Australia and Europe markets. Various brands of the drink are available internationally and doing very well,” says Ishan . 

He says that, Borecha is available in Goan stores and also sold in Chennai, Delhi, Coimbatore, and Nainital. The company is also exploring sales for export to Singapore and Europe. The company has installed capacity of 2,000 cases of Borecha and is presently producing about 500 cases a month.

“In craft beer our capacity is higher of 10,000 cases a month. Presently our plans are of 10,000 cases a month which is around 2.4 lakh bottles a month,” explains Ishan. He says that, the market response to both the beverage products is good. “We launched our craft beer locally but soon plan to sell in Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and also the export market in Europe and south-east Asia.”

Ishan says that Latambarcem Brewery was set up with a total investment of about Rs 15 crore inclusive of the pre-operation cost, the capital investment in plant and machinery and all other expenditure. The company was set up after receiving project approval from the Goa Investment Promotion Board. It currently provides direct employment to about 25-30 industrial workers.

“Goa’s environment, good quality of water and alcohol norms makes the state very suitable for setting up alcohol manufacturing unit. The long term goal of our company is to build an infrastructure around beer that’s different from what is there in the market today.  Our unit in future will allow for tour of the brewery by tourists. Sightseers can drive through the countryside even as they taste different flavours of beer.”

He says setting up the unit was definitely a lot of work, but the brothers were able to successfully set up everything after lot of research and due diligence. “It is easy to setup up a standard brewery but it takes a lot of effort when you want to set up a perfect brewery as per international standards, and this is exactly what we have been able to achieve over the last two years of planning and commissioning.”

The company has sourced its equipment from all over the world in order to ensure the best possible processes in our production. “We plan to steadily scale up alongside our growth in demand. We have systematically planned our brewery for easy expansion over the years,” discloses Ishan.