HYDERABAD: Call it an effort to incentivise sorghum (jowar) farmers or popularise the nutrient-rich crop, the city-based ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) has come up with an initiative to promote sorghum for brewing beer, which, experts say, could revolutionise the beer market in the country.
In a first, a pilot plant, or a brewery, is being set up at the IIMR campus in Rajendranagar to showcase the techno-economic feasibility of the drought-resistant crop as the most suitable grain for brewing beer. The aim is to attract more entrepreneurs to take up beer production using sorghum crop, while establishing a continuous supply chain of the raw material by taking farmer groups into confidence.
Scientists at IIMR have developed the technology and process of brewing beer over several years of research. Beer brewed out of sorghum will be gluten free, of superior quality, and cost effective, officials pointed out.
The NIELAN (Nesting Incubation and Entrepreneurship for Leveraging Agri-innovations in Nutri-cereals) Technology incubator at the campus has been successfully dealing with developing food technology in helping budding entrepreneurs commercially produce value-added food products from millets.
The Institute is now also willing to partner with microbreweries by sharing its research and technology. A proposal for funding the pilot plant is pending before the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), while the doors of the Telangana government are also being knocked for pioneering the project.
B Dayakar Rao, principal scientist, IIMR and CEO- NIELAN-Technology Business Incubator, told Express that lab-scale production of beer from sorghum has been done by the institute for four years.
“We have also worked with industries like Rahul Malts of Jaipur and Hindustan Breweries Ltd. We are looking at reworking and piloting beer production for taking it up on a commercial scale. Sixty-to-seventy per cent of the state is dryland area and sorghum is the most drought-resistant crop and is suitable for the region. It is rich in nutrients and the beer brewed out of sorghum will be gluten-free,” he pointed out, adding that its use by the industry would create a market for struggling farmers.
The institute has also worked out plans to link farmers to the industrial market for establishing a continuous supply chain of raw material. “The beer from sorghum will be of superior quality. It can be used as a malt or adjunct,” Rao added.
Echoing his views, Sham Sundar, a brew master with the Prost microbrewery in Bengaluru, said the use of sorghum for brewing will certainly be cost effective as well as appealing to beer lovers.
“Imported malts cost anywhere between Rs 80 and Rs 120 per kg. Cereals like sorghum as an ingredient for brewing will make beer cost-effective because it could be available at `20-40 per kg. Its availability locally would also help us choose the quality of the raw material,” he said.
According to him, sorghum gives a good yield of starch compared to malts. “It helps getting the extract and can increase the alcohol percentage. The difference in flavour compared to usual malts will make it appealing to customers,” he said.
Sorghum is the main ingredient in beer in Nigeria, South Africa and other southern African countries. Though wheat, millets, sorghum, rice and corn are used for brewing in several countries, barley is the most preferred grain for beer.
“Indian commercial beer manufacturers use barley malt, rice flakes, broken rice, maize flakes etc. as ingredients. “Nigerian breweries operate seven-eight plants, which produce beer from sorghum on an industrial scale,” Sham pointed out.
Advantages of sorghum
2. High in calcium, iron, zinc and anti-oxidants
3. High presence of dietary fibre
4. Releases carbohydrates in smaller quantities
Where it is grown
Parts of erstwhile districts of Adilabad, Mahbubnagar, Medak, Rangareddy and Nalgonda