Focused on transparency, investment and innovation, Murree Brewery is a trusted producer of a wide variety of beers, liquors and non-alcoholic products
Established in 1860 in response to the increasing demand for beer by the personnel of the British Raj, Murree Brewery is the oldest continuing enterprise in Pakistan. Located at Ghora Galli, located in the Pir Punjal range of the Western Himalayas at an elevation of 6000 metres above sea level, the Murree brewery was also among the first modern beer breweries to be established in Asia. With Murree beer proving to be popular among British troopers barracked in the Galis of these hills, the brewed barley malt and hops soon caught the attentions of the local population, who swiftly became consumers.
By the turn of the 20th century, Murree was a name famously connected to beer in kegs and bottles in the bars, beer halls and army messes of British India. Awarded a medal for product excellence at the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876, the brewery has gone on to win numerous awards over the following 140 years.
Discussing some major milestones within the brewery’s long history, Isphanyar Bhandra, CEO and Owner of Murree Brewery comments: “In 1947 when the Indian Independence Act partitioned British India into two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan, my grandfather at the time was working as Director of Murree Brewery. He made the strategic decision to buy off the British and Hindu majority shareholders, which is how Murree Brewery came into my family in the same year. Today we are an approximately 200,000 hectare litre brewery that sells our products all across Pakistan; exports are not allowed as far as alcoholic beverages are concerned, in fact, neither are imports permitted. We essentially cater to local markets in Pakistan.”
Products within the brewery’s portfolio include fruity malts, soft drinks, Tops Tetra packs at one litre, Tops Tetra packs at 250 ml, squash, three litre PET bottles; NR juice, five litre PET bottles, sauces, water, vinegar, beers and liquors. Beers include the famous Murree Beer, Murree’s Classic Lager, Murree’s Millennium Brew, both in cans and bottled, Peach & Lemon Beer, Murree’s Strong Brew, Murree’s Classic Lager and Murree’s Special Strong Beer.
Within the liquor range are products such as Murree’s Rarest limited edition 21 year old whiskey, Murree’s eightyear- old Malt Whiskey Classic, Murree’s Citrus Gin and Murree’s 12-year-old Millenium Reserve single malt scotch whiskey. The number of whiskies available within the brewery’s portfolio is a result of a German brew house being installed in 1967 and Saladin Box Maltings in 1971 and latest Brew House is from an English Company Briggs of Burton, India; during the 1960’s the Murree Brewery also made the strategic decision to embark on an ambitious long-term programme to mature malt whiskies, with white oak casks and vats procured over the last four decades from North America, Australia and Spain. Today Murree Brewery’s two underground cellars hold more than half a million litres of malt whiskey for varying periods of maturation under controlled temperature conditions.
Committed to fulfilling customer requirements and expectations through CARE (Continuous improvement, Alignment of Mission & goals, Responsibility and respect of jobs and each other, Educating one another) Murree Brewery retains a competitive edge in the market through its adherence of high standards and optimal transparency in all areas of the business. “As far as our products are concerned, we are committed to keeping high standards, however we are also above the table when it comes to operating; we don’t have any hidden closets or hidden skeletons,” says Isphanyar. “Additionally, we are one of the few companies in Pakistan to have third generation employees that work within our group. We take pride in this as this is not very common in Pakistan as employees are treated as slaves, however our family philosophy is to treat employees as extended family; this is something I learnt from my late father and the results of this is very low turnover of employees.
“We are also fully committed to investment, having invested approximately $5 million dollars in our glass container company; we don’t just have the brewery, we also have a juice factory, water plant and the glass container factory. We make glass bottle for ourselves too,” highlights Isphanyar. “To stay competitive we keep buying machinery to the tune of $4 million to $6 million annually. This investment is in response to Pakistan being declared an emerging market that is experiencing an explosion in its population. While the European population is on the decline, in the sub continent we see the total opposite, as 70 per cent of the population is comprised of teenagers. You can well imagine that 70 per cent of more than 200 million people is a huge consumption group.”
Moving forward, Murree Brewery is certain to enjoy continued growth as it focuses on investment, product development and meeting the needs of its huge potential customer base, as Isphanyar highlights: “We will keep on investing in infrastructure and machines while also spending money on research and development. For example, we recently introduced a wheat beer concept in Pakistan, much like what they have in Germany; this concept was developed after six to eight months of R&D, during which time we strived to match the same taste as you expect in Germany. Furthermore, we fly our foreign consultants in from Germany to audit our procedures and to help us create new products and so on.”
With immense opportunities for success ahead and the brewery’s sales teams already surpassing its targets time and time again, Murree Brewery’s long history looks set to continue for many years to come.