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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

REVIVING A LOCAL BREW

Culture flows through its local brews, and rice beer has been at the forefront of cultural exchange as people have begun to take note of it. Boris Momin writes about the 7sisters Rice Beer, founded by two Tura-based entrepreneurs, Chisam and Keenan Marak.

By Boris Momin

North-East India is famous for its indigenous cuisine and beverages and it hasn’t failed to impress us once again.

The recent launch of the 7sisters Rice Beer in Tura has got many people satisfied with their traditional taste. This product is one of its kind, as it is the first traditional beer to be produced in a can, and founded by two very young people –

Chisam and Keenan Marak.

“We are on a mission to establish the ‘Taste of northeast’ all over India.” Chisam stated.

At the MLTR concert at Jengjal, West Garo Hills, on December 12, they were able to sell 1900 cans in only two days. In another event, the Simsang Festival, Williamnagar, another massive sale came their way. Within only three hours, they were able to sell 2000 cans!

“I feel happy and excited that people believe in our mission to bring the cultural drink that has been passed down to us by our ancestors to the market. It is a way to connect with our roots. Definitely, we are ramping up production for future events and hopefully, we can meet the high demand by next year,” Keenan delightfully added.

They also stated that rice beer is not conveniently available in stores in India, hence, people travel off to distant places to meet their needs… a problem they identified. They have paved the way to solve this problem with their creativity.

“Rice beer is a traditional drink of the North East. With modernisation and the emergence of present-day religious practices and education, the number of traditional rice beer brewers is dwindling, therefore, the art of brewing rice beer is being slowly forgotten,” Chisam pointed out.

Both Chisam and Keenan are college graduates who were born and raised in Tura. Since childhood, they wanted to explore creative ventures, keeping them interested in research to build awareness and understand the present problems around their society. Both of them completed their studies in Bengaluru and started to work on their ideas together there.

Initially, they struggled to get the kind of taste that they expected out of their product. It was also the first time that they tried to make a carbonated rice beer. Further, there was delay in the arrival of the packaging machine… reason they could not meet expected demand in this year’s Wangala Festival. Consequently, most customers left feeling dissatisfied.

However, this was a learning curve for them. They utilised time in a more efficient manner, leading to great sales in later festivals. They have also been recognised at the PRIME Sauramanadala Rural Entrepreneurship Fellowship (PRSEF) due to the popularity of their product.

Speaking on the social impact that their product can generate, Keenan said, “This product will bring awareness to those who are still unaware of the North Eastern culture. We outsource 25 per cent of our rice beer to local brewers of Meghalaya, thereby, giving their product a larger audience as well. We also employ some of the local brewers to produce the remaining percentage of beer, bringing employment to the people in far-off rural places. We believe in environmental sustainability, and to support this we have zero waste management. We use all the by-products for feeding livestock. The aluminum cans used can easily be recycled. Through our venture, we are also generating revenue for the state.”

Of course, they are being assisted by their fellow peers whenever they need assistance in packaging, stocking and transportation. They believe that this adventure will have its fair share of ups and downs. That said, they are ready to tackle the problems and continue their hard work. “We also believe that we will be able to build a factory to manufacture our products to meet increased demands in the near future,” Chisam assured, with a smile.

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