Edward Abraham Dyer, father of Indian Beer in the early colonial period mid 19th century

Brewing beer in India is one of the many practices introduced by Europeans. The Kasauli Brewery, established by a British entrepreneur  in the 19th century, had produced the first beer in the subcontinent and all of Asia. Despite its colonial origins, this brewery has grown significantly over the years, gaining a prominent name in the industry.

India has a rich history of alcohol consumption, dating back to ancient times. The Rig Veda, one of the oldest sacred texts, mentions the Soma plant, used to prepare the ritualistic Soma drink. During the medieval period, particularly in the Mughal era, references to wine and other alcoholic beverages are found. However, beer's journey in India is quite distinct from these ancient practices.

Beer’s origin can be traced back to the Mesopotamian period, making it one of the oldest known beverages. In India, evidence of rice beer consumption is mentioned by Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to the Mauryan court. However, the beer we enjoy today, with its diverse flavors and styles, was largely influenced by the British, who established the first brewery in India to satisfy their own cravings.

When the British arrived in India, they had to endure the harsh tropical climate, which was quite unfamiliar to them. To adapt, they introduced various aspects of their lifestyle, including their food and drinks. Beer was among these, driven by the British soldiers' and officials' desire for their favorite drink from home.

Father of British Beer in colonial India Edward Dyer,thewildcone.com

The Christ Church and the Kasauli Brewery stand as legacies of early British rule in India. Considered a pioneer of Indian brewing  Edward Abraham Dyer (born in Calcutta (Kolkata) on July 7, 1831 and educated in England as an engineer ) upon his return to India in the 1850s had embarked on a  business venture. He chose India because of his brother John Dyer.  He never wanted to be a military officer. According to Ian Colvin in his book "The Life of General Dyer," it was Edward's elder brother John, a barrister in Mussoorie, who advised him to learn the nuances of English beer-making in England and apply them to beer production in India. Edward's initial attempt in the 1840s was unsuccessful due to the hot Indian climate. Equipped with additional experience, Edward chose the Kasauli hills, now part of the Himachal Pradesh state, North Inia for his second endeavor due to its cool climate and abundant spring water. This time in 1955, operating on a shoestring budget (he mortgaged his house in England to meet the initial investment), he succeeded in his dedicated attempt. The Kasauli Brewery, founded over 200 years ago, is connected to a significant and poignant event in Indian history - the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Edward's son Gen. Brig. Reginald Dyer, masterminded the killing of innocent people in April 1919.

Edward Dyer, a master brewer, played a crucial role in this narrative.  Edward Dyer was primarily a businessman who recognized a lucrative opportunity to meet the high demand for beer among the British in India. In the 1850s, he established the first brewery in Kasauli, launching the famous 'Lion Beer,' which quickly became popular. Originally it was Indian Pale Ale, later became beer. ( Asia's first Lion Brand Beer). The production was later shifted to Solan, which eventually turned into a distillery.  Edward Dyer, driven by success  later founded several breweries and distilleries in Shimla (now Shimla), Solan, Lucknow, and Mandalay (a city in Myanmar). The website also states that H.G. Meakin, an entrepreneur, founded Meakin & Co. Ltd. during the same century. He bought old Shimla and Kasauli breweries from Dyer and also started other breweries in Dalhousie, Ranikhet, Chakrarta, Darjeeling, and Kirkee

Today, the Mohan Meakin Company, which owns the Kasauli and Solan breweries, continues Edward Dyer's zeal. Mohan Meakin further enhanced its reputation with the creation of Old Monk, one of India’s most beloved rum brands.

1953 Indian beer label. in.pinterest.com/


Above image: High ranking military and Reginald Dyer India's famous Old Monk Beer produced by  Mohan Meakin. The company  continues the legacy of Edward Dyer and resonates the pains of several hundred Indians killed by his crazy son Brig. Gen. Reginald Dyer in  Punjab, India .

First Indian pure  malt whisky. madrascourier.com

Edward Dyer's Lion Brand  www.quora.com

Beer was a staple in Britain, and its demand only intensified in the heat of India. Beer production in India became a necessity.  In the 18th century, the British attempted to produce beer in India but faced numerous challenges. By 1716, they resorted to importing beer from Britain, a process that took around six months by sea, often resulting in flat and undrinkable beer upon arrival, due to constraints of shelf-life. Further, countless barrels of beer became damaged in the transit due to rough riding. To counter this issue, the imported beer was brewed with a higher alcohol content, leading to the creation of Indian Pale Ale (IPA). IPA remained a favorite among the British in India until the early 19th century.
Beer drunk. image.shutterstock.com

For beer enthusiasts visiting Kasauli and Solan, the rich history of these breweries adds a layer of appreciation to their experience. The journey of beer in India, from ancient rice beer to modern-day brews, reflects a fascinating blend of cultural influences and historical events. The establishment of the Kasauli Brewery not only marked the beginning of beer production in India but also paved the way for a vibrant brewing industry that continues to thrive today.

Source: https://www.navrangindia.in/2015/03/a-stalwart-of-indian-brewery-edward.html