World Beer Day is on August 7 and, in case you didn't know it, India is making some lovely beers across segments. Here are my picks of the top Indian beers to try. If it ain't here, you aren't missing anything.
I have always wondered why certain drinks are accorded a ‘day’ in the calendar year. It’s not like any of us, who do enjoy the pleasures of the tipple, need an excuse to drink. But then it dawned on me that it is mostly to grow awareness for a beverage among people who don’t know much about it. This then here is about two such days.
World Tequila Day just went by (July 24) and if you were shooting it back to commemorate it, then you were only deconsecrating the years of work that it takes to make this beverage. Good tequila is not to be shot. It is to be savoured neat, or on ice, or in a cocktail, or even simply with tonic (trust me, teq-tonic can be bigger than G+T). Given how flavourful and wonderfully distinct it is, the only thing that keeps tequila from becoming the most popular white beverage out there is the limited area of production (formalised in 1974 to a few Mexican villages). It limits the amount of bottles that can eventually be churned out, so the makers would rather focus on value than volume in the long run. Sure, there is mezcal and various other forms of aguardiente, which can often be considered substitutes, but to me, they are all very different and there is a market for each to flourish. This Tequila Day, the following is what I celebrated with.
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Patrón is the grand daddy of premium tequilas and no matter how many brands white celebs put out on the market, I’ll always turn to Patrón. From their unique bottles— which were originally handcrafted and numbered— to the quality of spirit packed into each variant, their attention to detail is striking. Being ultra-premium allows them to invest that little extra into their ware and it shows in the glass. If you are shooting this tequila, then you, sir/ma’am, are very rich, but even more stupid.
The world’s largest-selling tequila brand, Jose Cuervo, has been in production since the 1790s. La Rojeña (founded in 1812), where it is produced, is the oldest active distillery in Latin America. They shared a reposado variant with me, which is a beautiful mid-way expression of the spirit, showing youthful vigour, and yet the slight ageing shows mature reflections as well. I’d mix it into a drink, but most often, I’ll sip it slow over a large cube of ice. Another option is to replace the gin in a Negroni with this and make it a Negronita!
Next, World Beer Day is on August 7 and, in case you didn’t know it, India is making some lovely beers across segments. Here are my picks of the top Indian beers to try. If it ain’t here, you aren’t missing anything.
White Rhino is the beer nerd’s beer. Serious stuff, done right, consistently. Just that they don’t make enough of it.
Kati Patang is my comfort beer. They are decidedly different and yet relatable. Love their takes on ales.
The go-to brand for millennials and the younger lot, Bira made beer fun and brought a lot more people into the folds of the frothy beverage than any other brand.
Another easy-to-guzzle brand is Simba. Their wit and stout have been crowd-pleasers since some time now.
The strong beer category, honestly, makes me shiver because of two reasons. It is an oxymoron, as a beer can be “strong” or “weak”, depending on how the brewer needs it to be for the sake of balance. So the nomenclature shouldn’t exist. But that said, what is produced as strong beer in our country is largely watered-down kerosene. The only exceptions— Kingfisher Ultra Max and Bira Boom. I’d also add Budweiser Magnum, Carlsberg Elephant and Tuborg Strong to the list, for even if they are made by foreign brands, they are largely for the Indian market. The rest, honestly, drink at your own risk.
As for 0% beer, well, if one must, then Heineken and Budweiser do decent ones. However, I’d rather they focused on a low-alcohol beer like, say, one which clocks in at 2.5-3%, but tastes like a regular beer.
The writer is a sommelier