John Eapen JJ the Keg Tales of Froth

John J Eapen, the Godfather of craft beer AKA ‘JJ the Keg’ has died


In the last half a decade or more, the concept of small-batch, hand-brewed craft beers and India Pale Ales has taken over India. Regular beers and pilsners aside, the variety in notes and flavours that make some of the most popular craft beers and IPAs popular is a testament to the fact that so much can be done with a little bit of wheat, barley, and hops. With so many different brewing companies starting up or coming into India, saying that the beer industry is starting to get a bit crowded is an understatement. So to cut through the ‘froth’, one man decided to put his expertise in the field to good use by starting what has come to be regarded as India’s Craft Beer Bible. The name John J Eapen is synonymous with beer. A Bangalore boy with a passion for beer, John, better known by all as ‘JJ the Keg’ started ‘Tales of Froth’ in 2015, an online blog that single-handedly documents every craft beer, complete with reviews, pairings, and so much more. Along with a group called ‘Friends of Froth’ to discuss all things beer, these will be the greatest legacy that John Eapen leaves behind.

John Eapen Tales of Froth JJ the Keg
JJ the Keg hosts a beer appreciation session

A toast to JJ the Keg

John loved beer. He loved it so much, that he made it his life’s purpose to spread the joy of beer across India and the world. As a ‘Beer Evangelist’, John Eapen’s mission was to evangelise India about beer and craft beer by publishing content regularly about anything and everything to do with beer. Right from the brewing process and its history, beer styles, food pairings, beer trivia, beer news and brewpub and beer reviews. He even went as far as to conduct sampling sessions, introductory workshops on beer, organizing mini brewpub/pub crawls, helping out with or running beer events and writing about beer for various publishing sites. The man was all about the beer!

Born in India but raised in Qatar, JJ the Keg had lived in the US and Canada spending over 25 years outside the country. Apart from being the walking encyclopedia of beer and craft beer that he was, he was also a certified pilot having done his CPL and PPL certification in Toronto, racking up close to 180 total flying hours in a Cessna 172. But all that aside, it’s the beer that was always front and centre. His blog Tales of Froth documents his journey with the liquid gold right from his first sip as a teenager in Qatar in 1993, through his time in Arizona where he discovered ales, stouts, and craft beers, to his time in Canada where he was a panel member of Molson Coors Canada Consumer Panel, a closed group of 700 beerologists heavily involved in taste testing, focus groups, and marketing feedback. It was after his return to India in 2015 that John Eapen started what is now regarded as the holy grail of beer and craft beer in India – Tales of Froth.

John Eapen Tales of Froth JJ the Keg
John with the team at Communiti Brewpub in Bangalore

Tales of Froth

There is probably no blog or online portal dedicated to beer that is more thorough than Tales of Froth. If you’ve never tasted a craft beer or if you’ve had them all, there is something for everyone. As an educational resource, Tales of Froth documents the different types of beer, facts and trivia, types of glassware used, the history of beer, the brewing process, food pairings, the list is endless. But the one reason why the online community flocked to the blog, was for John Eapen’s directory of craft beers in India. Through his extensive travels through the country, John has tracked major homegrown breweries and brewpubs through Bangalore, Goa, Pune, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. Complete with detailed reviews, the blog even shares food tips so you know it’s not just about the froth.

Taking the Tales of Froth further, John started Friends of Froth in 2017, a Facebook Group for all those who love beer and craft beer as much as he did. Members from across India and the world constantly share their favourites, experiences, reviews, pairings, and generally, discuss their likes and dislikes. The group also became a place to discuss craft beer-related events and openings, and other happenings in the beer world.

Saying goodbye to a legend

On Monday when news broke that John J Eapen, JJ the Keg, was no more, it was unbelievable and unacceptable. There were plans, lots of plans that were made that are now broken. John was supposed to land in Goa on October 4 and stay for the long weekend, but that was not going to happen. He was supposed to be at an event on Sunday as well which he didn’t attend which is what made friends suspicious. According to sources, John Eapen died of cardiac arrest sometime on Saturday afternoon, the 28th of September.

The passing of the legendary ‘JJ the Keg’ is a terrible loss for the beer and craft beer community. Those who have met him and interacted with him will attest to his charm, wit, and passion for beer as a way to bring people together. He always had amazing stories to share, and there was never a dull moment when he was around. He loved Goa and came here constantly to be a part of new launches such as Goa Brewing Company’s Eight Finger Eddie, and Arbor. In a Facebook post, Hansel Vaz, owner of Cazulo Feni said, “He was hard-headed, opinionated and a changemaker. I’ve never met him without a beer.” He went on to say, “He agglomerated aficionados, newbies, and the industry together to create a cohesive understanding of the craft beer industry in India. Who knows what the future held, what plans he had and what he could have shaped the industry. His untimely demise will surely leave a mark.” 

In another post by beer and whiskey enthusiast Kimberly Periera of @Kimbrewlicious, she said, “Sometimes we take life for granted. We assume the plans we made for tomorrow, for next week, the coffee catch up, the dinner with friends, the party over the weekend, the travel plans in a few months will all come to fruition. But sometimes life has other plans, like death.” She went on to say, “Today I learned, I won’t get to hug a friend again, I won’t get to sit at the table in four days and share a round of beers and more, I won’t get to swap stories, plan events, or even just simply have a friendship anymore. Life took you away too soon JJ. You will always be remembered. With every beer, and there will be many, I will drink to you. Thank you for everything.”

As we mourn the passing of our friend John J Eapen, we’d like to hear your stories of love and laughter over beer. Start a conversation and share your moments with JJ the Keg in the comments below. You can also be a part of the Tales of Froth legacy online on Facebook and Instagram @TalesOfFroth, and join the discussion at @FriendsofFroth.

A remembrance prayer service for John will be held today, October 1, at 14:30 at Chirashanthi Dhama Crematorium, Hebbal, Next to Esteem Mall, Bellary Road, Bangalore. Funeral services will follow soon after at 15:00.