A famous Monk, A Lion and Yo Ho Ho

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View of Solan under fresh rains; Photo: Sanjay Mukherjee

I have passed Solan so many times that it feels silly not to have written about it all these years. Especially given the historical significance to the Indian brewing industry.

Solan is the home of Mohan Meakin Limited – the pioneers of the Indian brewing industry. The original brewery (the first in India) was established in Kasauli in the 1820s by an English brewer Edward Dyer. The brewery was shifted to Solan since Solan had an abundant source of fresh water and the Solan breweries became home to a series of flourishing brands.

Later in 1855 it was incorporated as a company and that 1855 date is the date of founding of Mohan Meakin (Mohan Meakin Breweries came to own the original Dyer brewery and several others as a result of acquisitions in the late 1960s). The company still operates the original brewery as a distillery.

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The entrance of the Solan Brewery compound; Photo: Abhishek Kaushal

The original brewery made and sold (from 1840s onwards) what is considered to be Asia’s first beer – ‘Lion’ beer (read somewhere that it’s still sold in parts of Northern India). Lion Beer apparently remained the largest selling beer in India right up till the 1960s.

For those unfamiliar with the other more well-known connection regarding Solan (and for those who know alike): Mohan Meakin is the maker of the famous Indian tipple – Old Monk Rum.

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The Solan Brewery compound; Photo: Abhishek Kaushal

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