Meet Varang Bombaywala. Even though he belongs to a quintessential jeweller family of Jaipur, which has always maintained a safe distance from alcoholic indulgences, this 24-year-old eats, breathes and sleeps wine. A self-taught home brewer, Varang loves sharing his passion for home brewing with other people through his YouTube channel ‘Homebrew India’. With a whopping 38,000 subscribers, this channel serves as a platform where he not only metes out his knowledge on making wine and beer at home but also busts myths on fermentation. A business graduate from the University of Manchester, his saga of home brewing began four years ago when he went to Manchester to get his degree.
Intrigued with Cider
“During my time as a student in Manchester, I often visited the grocery stores to buy the weekly supplies. In almost all stores, the shelves near the billing queue were stocked with wines and ciders. I was really intrigued with the different kinds of fruit ciders available there and before I knew I was hooked to reading about the process of fermentation and watching videos about home brewing beverages”, shares Varang while shedding light on how his tryst with brewing began.
After completing his graduation, Varang moved back to Jaipur equipped with the information, knowledge and machinery needed to begin his brewing journey. While he joined his father’s jewellery business, the lockdown gave him the apt opportunity to give wings to his passion and he started his own YouTube channel in 2020. On being asked about his family’s reaction to this unconventional passion, he says: “When I used to come home for holidays, I used to talk about ciders a lot and how I am researching on making them at home. Initially my parents did not take me seriously but gradually they understood that I am quite serious about this”, tells Varang.
Wine is the way to go
Even though Varang began his journey with brewing ciders and experimented with different fermented products like kombucha, beer, vinegar etc., he has decided to make a career out of wine brewing. “Till now I was pursuing brewing as a passion by making YouTube videos and sending my products as gifts to my friends and family but now I plan to transform it into a commercial venture. The feedback I received on my products has instilled the confidence in me to take this up as a career”, tells the passionate home brewer.
Ask him how he plans to break into the market with many well-established brands for wine already in place and he opines: “What makes my product stand out is the use of completely natural products without any additives or chemicals as well as experiments with exotic flavours and fruits. People generally believe that wine can only be made using grapes but I love to use fruits as diverse as kiwi, strawberry, black currant, passion fruit and even local and seasonal ones like ‘falsa’. I believe wine is a beverage that is liked by people across all spectrums irrespective of their gender and age. My target group mainly includes women and young adults who would want to experiment with different flavours of wines and wine-based cocktails.”
Wine for Thought
Wrapping up the conversation with some food (read: wine) for thought on breaking the taboo around alcohol, Varang says: “ People who want to drink will find ways to do it even if alcohol is banned. There is a need to loosen the restrictions and the taboo around alcohol. In fact, making people aware about the correct way of making it, storing it and consuming it, will only help in curbing the bad effects of alcohol”.