The onset of microbreweries has changed the way India sips its favourite summer drink
I sometimes crave a chilled beer and a burger alongside. Just writing this article makes me want one. There is just so much simplicity and satisfaction in that. Don’t mean to daydream — like you, I have been stuck at home for far too long.
Drinking beer in India has changed considerably over the last few years. The great German and Belgium beers have all but disappeared, thanks to very high duties making them unaffordable. And to spend Rs 1,000 or more on a pint of wheat beer from Germany just does not make sense. Separately, all of the big international brands are now made in India, and they are pretty good too.
We have some pretty slick local microbreweries churning out very impressive beer. And they are experimenting with styles consistently, making it extremely interesting to discover more. They are selling beer through retail channels as well as bars and in Mumbai, now through their own retail stores fresh off the tap, which is a new and fantastic development. The allowing of growlers in Mumbai and Delhi has changed the landscape, allowing all of us to enjoy fresh and high quality beer on tap at home.
A subscription service called Tapped sends you an assortment of beers every month, how cool is that. And let’s not forget brewpubs that provide an excellent atmosphere over beer and food, with the ones in Bengaluru taking it to a whole different level.
To say that there is any one brand out there that is doing it better than the rest would be wrong, each beer producer has more than one that is absolutely delicious. What I like about the breweries is that all work together to push the agenda of craft beer in India, we do not see this too much in other beverage categories.
These are some beers that you should try that are a combination of my personal favourites, plus others that are truly unique.
We start with Goa Brewing Company’s Eight Finger Eddie, which is a New England India Pale Ale. Malty Pale Ale, with a tropical fruit aroma, and just the right amount of bitterness. Their Wheat Beer is refreshing and citrusy with a touch of coriander, also one of my favourites.
From the folks at Kati Patang, the beer to try is their Zesty Amber. This is, perhaps, one of my top beers of all time. It is loaded with all-natural malts and aromatic hops. The result is a perfect balance of intensely complex flavours with a wonderfully smooth caramel finish.
The only international beer in the line up is Brewdog’s Punk IPA. They also have a brewpub here. This light, golden classic has been subverted with new world hops to create an explosion of flavour. Bursts of caramel and tropical fruit with an all-out riot of grapefruit, pineapple, and lychee precede a spiky bitter finish.
Great State Aleworks’ Second Hazy IPA is hazier and juicier than ever before, brewed with an increased hop charge consisting of Cashmere, Chinook, Mosaic, and Citra hops.
Chinsi, the man behind Bombay Duck Brewing, a complete beer geek if you have ever met one. Their Rice and Shine is a Farmhouse Ale (Saison). A flavourful, crisp farmhouse ale made with a local variety of rice called Ratna, brewed in collaboration with Spike Brewery, Sweden.
Gateway Brewing Co. can be given its due credit for starting the craft beer revolution in Mumbai. Their Chai Tea Porter has spices like ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon with rich caramel and toffee notes, making the drink warm, aromatic, and comforting.
Two Down Pretty Please Hibiscus Cream Ale. A small-batch Cream Ale (a style similar to lagers in characteristics). Dried hibiscus petals give it a slightly tart flavour and a gorgeous pink hue. Locally grown Indrayani rice is used to keep the body thin, and cascade hops give it a lovely floral aroma.
Arbour Brewing Company’s Beach Shack IPA has a creamy white head and big fresh hop aroma. Juicy with citrus and tropical fruit flavours from a wagon load of late addition hops that deliver huge flavour and aroma, with just the right balance of refreshing bitterness.
White Owl Diablo, a Irish Red Ale with aromas and flavours of roast caramel with a low bitterness and a light body.
Igloo Brew Works Dabble Dubble — Belgian Dark Ale — complex Belgian style beer with deep aromas of spices and dark fruits like plum and raisins.
Great state and Azadi Brewing ( Chicago): Summertime Chai – a Wheat Ale with Nilgiri Tee — is brisk, fragrant, and full-bodied tea beer comes together with Loral hops to create beautiful citrus and floral notes. Best enjoyed with a lemon wedge on a hot summer day.
This is not an exhaustive list, there are more breweries that do a great job, and all of them keep releasing new styles. Now, to head to Woodside Inn for that beer and burger I have been dreaming about.