The year was 1855 and Edward Dyer was British-ruled India's brewing pioneer with an establishment in Kasauli, India. It was he who brought to the sun-drenched lands, the modern beer but far too vast was the demand for his produce that the one humble establishment in Kasauli did not fulfill the demands. He would go on to establish breweries and distilleries in Simla, Solan, Lucknow and Mandalay (now in Myannmar) largely serving the British that ran the most prestigious jewel in the British empire.
Around the same time, another enterprising gentleman named H.G. Meakin, coming from a well known brewing family of Burton-on-Trent where he was trained, founded Meakin & Co. Ltd. He bought the old Simla and Kasauli Breweries and built others at Dalhousie, Ranikhet, Chakrarta, Darjeeling and Kirkee.
Both these firms E. Dyer & Co., and Meakin & Co. Ltd., continued doing business separately up till the mid 1920s. During the first World War (1914-18), when it was a big job to import beer, the two firms were able to fulfill the demand across the country with a beer at a very low cost. In fact vast quantities of malted barley were sent to Egypt, to help keep soldiers’ beer at a reasonable price.
Following their independent successes, the two firms joined hands and started a new joint stock venture called Dyer Meakin & Co.Ltd. Brewing was suspended at the Kasauli Brewery and a new brewing and bottling plant was set up at Solan, one of the most fertile places in India with a great quality of water. There are few places on earth where the water is ideally suited to brewing. Solan was one. The natural landscape, coupled with the hill climb drew these pioneers to Solan.
With the times, as modern scientific progress made it possible to augment production with the latest machinery, the unproductive centres were closed down leaving only distilleries at Kasauli and Lucknow and the brewery at Solan (Simla Hills) to cater the growing demand across the country.
During World War II, 'Solan beer' was made available to many allied nations operating in the region. Soon after the war though, the plants at Kasauli, Solan and Lucknow were replaced by updated, automated set ups.
Dyer Meakin's products were now compared to the global giants that were being made available across the Indian sub-continent and the former's range were the preferred choice of many patrons both British and Indian.
In 1935 when Burma was dismembered from India the name of the company was changed to Dyer Meakin Breweries Ltd. from Dyer Meakin & Co. Ltd.
Year 1949 saw a dynamic transformation in the fortunes of the Company, with late Padamshree N.N. Mohan at the helm of affairs. With his far-sightedness he set up big industrial hub near Ghaziabad (U.P.) known as Mohan Nagar with business interests in a variety of domains.
The year was 1954 and while a young Elvis Presley began to make a name for himself by joining the Memphis Federation of Musicians in Tennessee, a new brand was born in India. Old Monk. A dark rum with a distinct flavor that catered to the mass palette of the now resurgent and free Indian audience. It would go on to become a household name amongst the armed forces working its way into the homes of the industrialists, the economists, the journalists, the emerging cinestars and the like, growing in popularity with every passing year. Little did the company know of the future and legacy that this brand would go on to create.
On 1st November, 1966, the name of the company was changed to Mohan Meakin Limited and remains so to date.
While the parent company's interests diversified into a foray of other businesses, the Old Monk brand would and still remains a flagship brand of the company, 63 years on.
The company is headed by by Padamshree Brig. (Dr.) Kapil Mohan, VSM (Retd.) Ph. D., under whose stewardship, the group has undertaken rapid diversification with 3 distilleries in India and 2 breweries and a host of franchises.
Today, Old Monk rum is available in markets the world over spanning Africa, Middle East, Far East and even North America.