WALTHAM – A fresh batch of beer rolls down the assembly line. For Mighty Squirrel Brewing Company co-founder Naveen Pawar, the Mango Lassi IPA reminds him of home.
"I grew up in India, and I came to the U.S. when I was 21 years old to get my masters," Pawar told WBZ-TV from his Waltham brewery.
Mighty Squirrel's "Cloud Candy IPA" became the highest-selling craft beer in Massachusetts in 2021, but Pawar's career path didn't begin with brewing. Far from it.
"Worked for six years in orthopedics and six years in prosthetics," he explained. "When you're born in our country in India, you have two options: be a doctor or engineer."
But Pawar's thirst for becoming an entrepreneur steered him away from his Asian roots and the culture's expectations.
"My family... I'm from India and alcohol is still a taboo," Pawar said.
He persisted, building what's now one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in the nation alongside his co-founder, Henry Manice.
Each beer, Pawar explained, has a different story and taste.
The sweet and hoppy "Dear Mary" New England IPA was named after their marketing manager's wife, who is a nurse at Boston Children's Hospital.
"Being able to create a story behind each beer – it connects you more to the liquid," said Mighty Squirrel's marketing manager, Stephen Tang. "It's not just another beer name."
Pawar is encouraging others in the Asian American Pacific Islander community to pursue what they truly love to do in a reasonable way.
"The best thing is do what you love. Follow your heart," he said.
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