The Manly Things: Ishaan Puri
Why do you think you got into beer and not wine?
The great thing about beer is that it’s accessible and affordable, even at relatively higher price points. It can be enjoyed casually at any time of the day and there is a style of beer for each and every drinker – it’s incredibly versatile.
How did you land on the name ‘White Rhino’?
This question gets asked a lot obviously. In a country where it is always tempting to take shortcuts due to the challenges you encounter at every step of every process, we’ve stuck to our guns and done things the right way. In that sense, we are a rare entity – hence the name White Rhino.
What is your favourite food and beer combination?
I’m not too fussy. Food and beer pairings are fun, but nothing is set in stone. It’s all about personal preference at the end of the day. Generally, you want more assertive beers that can hold their own when having spicy food or sharp cheeses, for example, you want subtle beers when eating delicate dishes such as steamed fish. White Rhino Lager is great with food because it contains several elements in harmony – sweetness from the malt, a clean bitterness from the hops, medium body and great mouthfeel. That’s usually my beer of choice with any food.
What are some random beer facts people might not know?
I always encourage beer drinkers to read the label to check for two things first, the best before date, and second, the ingredients. I personally don’t drink beer that’s close to its best before date, and that’s one of the reasons we always encourage outlets to place smaller, frequent orders rather than large orders. As far as ingredients go – I’m not a fan of “Adjunct lagers.” These are generally commercial brands that use ingredients other than just malt as a source of starch. Examples are sugar, rice, maize, corn syrup etc. These are essentially cheaper sources of starch and are used to lower production costs. Also, when drinking from glass it’s important to ensure that the glass is totally clean and free from oil, grease, dust, and detergent. Even the slightest bit of dirt will affect the head retention of the beer.
What has been your greatest moment since starting up?
Brewing our first batch of beer and having it turn out just perfect. Trials are something you always plan to do when you’re launching a new product and in our case, I was prepared to brew a couple of months at least before we zeroed in on a recipe we liked for our wheat beer. But we got it right the very first time and that’s the recipe we’ve stuck to since day one. With the lager it was a little different – I loved our first batch but felt it was too hoppy for the local market, so we spent a couple of months fine-tuning the beer until we settled on a Munich Helles style.
And your worst?
To be honest, while there have been challenges at every step of the way I can’t really look at any of these moments as “bad.” I’ve learnt more in the past 5-6 years than I would have anywhere else in the world, at any other job. The entire experience has helped me grow exponentially. And at the end of the day, it’s all the “bad” moments that allow you to learn and get smarter and more mature.
Will you be experimenting with new beers in the future?
We wanted to start with two styles of beer that the market would be familiar with and that was accessible but wanted to brew them in our own unique way. With the IPA that we launched a couple of months ago, we took a step towards introducing beer drinkers to styles of beer that have gained immense popularity in more mature craft beer markets overseas.
We are a premium, boutique brand and it’s important for us to expand our portfolio beyond wheat beer and lager, to styles such as IPA, Stout, Pale Ale, Saison etc. and the plan is to introduce them one by one over the next few years. We want to be the breweries that help the market grow and helps consumers develop a better understanding of craft beer.
What message would you have for millennials who might be trying to start their own brewery?
Make sure you really want to get into this line of work because it’s going to be very difficult, very time consuming and very frustrating (but also very rewarding).