We warned you; we LOVE our beer! Given Mumbai weather (hot and humid), excise hikes on liquor prices (steep, steep, steep!) and our need for a gentle swaying high (ever so often!) we can think of no better topic to kick off our Relative Values section where we pick a generic food or drink and compare it across variants available in the city to see how it measures on the palate and pocket. And since Woodside Inn’s beer n' burger fest kickstarts now (more on that further down) there can be no better time to decode the beer language so that people can tank up and heighten their beer palates.
The two main types of beer are lager and ale. While in lager the yeast ferments at moderate to cool temperatures in ales it ferments at much higher temperatures giving both distinctly different tastes.
Lagers are the most popular in India also because their ready availability. Top domestic and international brands are mostly of the pilsner or light lager type and include (note all prices are retail approximations):
1. Kingfisher Regular: Maybe its familiarity, cost or the high glycerin quotient, but no beer is quite as pleasing to the Indian palate as this green pint bottle which scores high on crispness, just the right kick and longevity. Damages: Rs. 60 approx
2. Kingfisher Ultra: The lighter cousin of the classic, made from imported ingredients is the newest label to hit the market. It is most preferred for easy drinking though loyalists find it a tad less crisp. Damages: Rs. 68
3. London Pilsner: The term Pilsner comes from a beer-making technique which originated in Czech town Plzen and describes a light lager high in forced carbonation with 3-6% alcohol content. LP is a pleasing and smooth variant very similar to Ultra and now available in a spiffy redesigned can. Rs. 60 approx
4. Budweiser/Tuborg/Carlsberg: Slightly flaccid and with a soapy aftertaste these beers don’t have much going for them palate-wise once you overlook their venerable brand names and Tuborg’s peel-away top. It’s crucial to remember that Budweiser in India tastes nothing like its original American counterpart much like Coca Cola. Wonder why? Damages: Rs.65-75 approx
5. Strong Beers: Given Indian proclivity for a quick and heavy high these beers do well among certain drinkers especially since all brands now have a ‘strong’ spinoff viz. Kingfisher Blue, Carlsberg Elephant, Tuborg Strong etc. Kingfisher blue is robust and masculine and even Elephant delivers a better punch and crispness with Elephant. Rs. 60 each
Top international picks include:
1. Asahi: There is simply no match for this Japanese gem’s sharp crispness. Its light colour shouldn’t fool drinkers into thinking its light because it packs in a decent punch and has a nice bitter finish on the palate perhaps due to the rice that goes into brewing it. Rs. 132
2. Stella Artois – A pale Belgian beer manufactured in UK, it fares well on the crisp-o-meter and the malted barley adds a fragrant touch to the sharp aftertaste. It's elegant easy drinking. Damages. Rs. 220
3. Hoegaarden : A pale cloudy Belgian wheat beer with sediments, the ‘Ho’ is light with a distinct orangey aftertaste which makes it ideal to drink it with a wedge of tangerine. This is also Mariam’s personal favourite and a great way to break the ice with her! Damages: Rs.220
4. London Pride: One of the premium brown ales in the business, it was adjudged supreme champion at the 2000 international beer and cider competition. It's reminiscent of Guinness with a sweet beginning, a hint of honey and a crisp bitter ending (like many of our romances!). Be warned though that ales are acquired taste so progress onto them only after conquering the lagers!. Damages: Rs.350 approx
5. Schneider Weisse: Again a full-bodied German wheat-based ale and the only one fermented in the bottle as opposed to barrels, it has a rich aromatic taste and a unique nutty finish. Despite being a heavy beer it’s not flaccid and packs in a punch in its own unique way. Deblina can be made to sign away her meagre fortunes over a couple of Schneiders so you can try your luck if you spot her at Woodside in the coming fortnight! Damages: Rs.300 approx
To sample all the above alongwith Heineken, Erdinger, Leffe, Corona, Birra Moretti, Brooklyn Lager and Murphy's Stout served with a smorgasbord of matching burgers, head to Woodside Inn for their 4th Annual Beer ' Burger Festival on from 15th to 31st July 2011.
Cheers n’ burps!
Cheers n’ burps!