If ever there was a drinks prom, beer would be the undisputed king (and queen) of the evening!
There is something about beer that makes it so inclusive and even androgynous. It has more social skills than spirits, is more affable than other ferments and more handy and nifty than cocktails. If ever there was a drinks prom, beer would be the undisputed king (and queen) of the evening!
August 2 was commemorated as International Beer Day although frankly, I think I proffer the stuff more than one man’s fair share of devotion the year round. Don’t scoff at me! Of course sommeliers drink beer. In fact, the common saying in winemaking circles states that it takes a lot of beer to make wine! That said, here are a few brands, mostly Indian, or with a deep-rooted Indian connect, which I think are heralding the beer revolution in our subcontinent.
Bira: A relatively young brand and yet one which even non-beer drinkers will know of well; the brand that single-handedly brought the hip beer culture to India. While they have had the hearts of the masses captured for the longest time, but not all their brews were always engaging for my palate. Well much change is afoot with their soon-to-launch Pomelo IPA and (local estate sourced) Coffee Stout as also a Bira taproom in Bengaluru, the former two which I recently tried and was much satisfied with—definitely sessionable i.e. a very high drinkability quotient over an evening.
White Rhino: They are the undisputed kings of the craft segment, segment-leaders in quality and styles for the longest time. Their brews show flavour and depth, the kind of beer that all beer makers gather around and consent to drinking. I must admit that every sitting starts with one pint of their IPA but then a few pints down, it’s not just pride that one is swelled with!
Goa Brewing Company: From choosing extremely quirky styles to launch with to packaging that was encore quirkier, they had my heart from the time I set eyes on Eight Finger Eddie IPA. Pineapple Saison followed next and to me these are both absolutely superbly crafted beers. Pity they are only available in Goa for the moment. The good bit — no more need to quaff crappy Kings at the beach anymore.
Kati Patang: Almost bending the rules for this one since it’s not made in India, not yet at least. But this is another quirky start-up with an India story and for the longest time, their ale was truly a one of a kind brew. They have add the Snappy Wheat to it recently and between the two, their house style is rich, flavour-forward, and definitely not for those looking for a tasteless pint. That said, both of them are still crisp and easy to down. Special shout out for the branding — love their name and the story with it.
Simba: This brand has been a bit confused at times, changing labels, then the stuff inside the bottles, but now I think it’s all mostly settling. They now pour forth with 4 variants of which the Wit, to me, is most enjoyable. Not the first pint I’d reach out for but still a good strong brand out there. Their Wild guide series (one each covering Goa and Delhi) remains among the best executed campaigns by a brand yet.
White Owl: To be stoically fair, these beers are decent but not entirely memorable or distinct. I like the branding and logo but it does make one wonder: what with owls, monkeys, and lions already in the mix, the beer world seems to be truly turning into one heady jungle!
(The writer is a sommelier)