Asia's first ''Lion Brand Beer'' produced by Dyer and Co, Kasauli, British India

Edward Dyer's Lion Brand

Dyer-Meakin &Co, Burma
Drinking beer has been in India for several centuries, as a matter of fact, more than 1000 years, but the traditional beer is prepared from rice or millet. Unlike the west, presently, Indian beer has more alcoholic content and is strong.   A beer-like drink called sura, the favorite of demigod Indira, is mentioned in the Vedas and also in the Ramayana.  The Greek traveler  Megasthenes  mentioned about the use of rice beer in India. . Historian  Kautalya made references to intoxicating beverages  made from rice called Medaka and Prasanna. In the past and also in the present drinking beer is common among the Indian tribes, particularly in the NE India. Some tribes prepare beer from rice, others from millet, invariably,  womenfolks take care of the preparation of alcoholic beverages in the tribal families J. B. S. Haldane, well-known biologist, says that local beer prepared by the tribes checks  diseases like beri beri. As for rice beer,  Ruellia suffruticosa (flowering plants) is added for better  flavor. some of these plants have medicinal properties. 

In the 18th century, it was the  British  who introduced European beer to India to meet the needs of the Britons and other Europeans living in the subcontinent.  In  1716, pale ale and Burton ale were being imported to India  all the way from England  and  because of poor shelf-life and long rough  sea-journey  lasting several months,  upon arrival in India, the beer  turned tasteless and sour, and countless containers  cracked during transit.   So, there arose a necessity for the beer-starved British Bobs  to import beer from Britain that  had a long shelf life  with good flavor suitable to the tropical climate. Then the brewers  came up  with a better variety called  India pale ale - highly hopped beer - high alcohol content and hops were added to it. This led to the invention of India pale ale in about 1787 by Bow Brewery.
The man who popularized the beer in India was Edward Dyer, father of Reginald Dyer, who master minded the Jalianwalla bagh massacre of April 1919. In 1830, Edward Abraham Dyer   came to India to try his luck in beer business and set  up India's first brewery in Kasauli. It was here he produced the famous Lion Brand Beer which got international  acclaim later and this brand is popular in some commonwealth countries.  In 1835,  the Kasauli brewery was shifted to Solan near Shimla for reasons of availability of good quality ground water most suitable for making beer.  After incorporation as Dyer Breweries in 1885, the sale picked up manifold and to meet fresh demand  from the European community and others more breweries came up in  places like Burma and Sri Lanka, etc. 

 H. G. Meakin bought the Solan brewery and added some more plants. It came to be known as ''Dyer Meakin  & Co'' and later was listed on the London Stock Exchange.  There were 12 breweries in India in all, including  the one in Rangoon in the year 1882 all operating under  the  name  of Meakin Dyer & Co. After  the 3rd Anglo-Burmese War of 1885, and in 1886 the  canon factory  owned by the Burmese king was converted  into a brewery.  Dyer, over a period of three years, produced  232,804 gallons (million litres) .  Dyer company's Mandalay  Brewery, Burma  represented one third of his “global” volume (his other breweries were in Lucknow and Solan ). His major clients were army men who had to deal with all kinds of people including dacoits and bootleggers.  In 1937, Burma was separated from India and the company lost its Burmese assets.   

Dyer Breweries in the 1840  sold it  originally as ''India Pale Ale'' (IPA) but the beer style was changed in the 1960s to a lager..  Lion remained the number one beer in India for over a century from the 1840s until the 1960s.  In the 1970s and 1980s, the company had to face stiff competition.   In the 2000 lion brand beer was sold to the Indian Army  through the Canteen Services Department (CSD). Mohan Meakin then entrusted the marketing of its original beer to International Breweries Pvt. Ltd.  Lion was  gradually picking up the civilian market and is now on  an expansion mode across India. In 1949, N. N Mohan acquired all the assets of Dyer Meakin Breweries and added a few more units. In 1967, the company was renamed to Mohan Meakin Breweries as the Indian government under  PM Nehru wanted the name ''Dyer''  dropped because of Edward Dyer's son happened to be a mass killer of Indian natives (see Jallianwalla Bagh massacre). 

Lion  beer  first introduced by Edward  Dyer  has the rare distinction of being  Asia's first beer brand.  The beer was quite popular wherever the Union Jack was flying way high.  Lion's popularity with the British during the heyday of the  British empire  was so high it became part of the British legacy and a symbol of British imperialism. Obviously, it led to the start-up of other Lion beers around the world, in New Zealand, South Africa and elsewhere.  Lion  still remains the number-one brand in neighboring Sri Lanka, where Mohan Meakin had introduced it in the 1880s through their Ceylon brewery.

Old Monk is a vatted Indian rum, blended and aged for 7 years (though there is also more expensive, 12-year-old version). It is dark, with an alcohol content of 42.8 (army allows up to  50% alcohol content). It is produced by Mohan Meakin, based in Mohan Nagar, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. This brand  is popular globally. .