How ‘Ladies Who Lager’ Is Changing Perceptions of Women as Brewers in India

A female brewing collective releasing a collaboration beer for International Women’s Month may not sound particularly unusual, but Ladies Who Lager isn’t just any female brewing collective. As the very first group of Indian women brewers to conceptualize, brew, and package-release their own IWM beer, Geist Stratosphere Lager, the Bangalore collective comprises six female brewers who are making their mark in the Indian craft beer industry.

India has seen its craft beer market explode over the last decade, and even the pressures of Covid-19 have failed to slow the sector’s growth rate of 20 to 30 percent year-on-year. Although craft beer only accounts for 2 to 3 percent of the Indian beer market (as opposed to 12 percent in the U.S.), big cities like Mumbai, Pune, and Bangalore have busy, dynamic craft beer scenes, with over 60 craft breweries in Bangalore alone. A quick scroll through Instagram accounts for Geist, By The Peepal, or Mannheim Brewing reveals the same hip, leafy beer gardens, sleek glassware, and extensive range of beer styles and flavors you’d expect to find in your local American taproom. Many of India’s young, affluent middle class have traveled and tried craft beer in Europe or America and want to recreate their experiences at home, including Geist Brewing’s head brewer Vidya Kubher, who discovered craft beer through a role in finance that took her to the beer halls of Munich. Craft beer culture as a whole is being embraced by urban Indians, reflected by the growing visibility of women as both drinkers and industry professionals.

The formation of Ladies Who Lager and the release of the Geist Stratosphere comes at a pivotal moment. The Indian government’s Centre for Alcohol Studies projects that the women’s alcohol market will grow up to 25 percent in the next five years, but much of the marketing directed toward female drinkers has focused on stereotypical tropes of women enjoying sweet, fruity drinks and “pinkwashing” –– something the Ladies Who Lager are keen to push back against.

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