White Zen by the Gateway Brewing Co. is possibly my favourite in their portfolio and among the craft suds available across Mumbai. I quite disliked beer until I tried this smooth, refreshing and very approachable hefeweizen. I’m a beer novice and this was my initiation into the world of craft beers. It really got me interested in beers in general.
I love the Four Grain Saison by the Independence Brewing Co., which hails from Pune. It’s aromatic, fruity and quite potent. You can end up having one too many.
Doolally‘s Oatmeal Stout is pretty impressive. Since Guinness is hard to come by here, their sufficiently creamy stout, though not as velvety as Guinness, is the next best thing to it in Mumbai and Pune.
I am a big fan of flavoured beers. Yes, I know purists would scoff at that, but give me fruits, flowers or local ingredients such as millet in my craft beers, and I am happy.
The Smooth Criminal at Arbor Brewing Company in Bengaluru is a beautiful combination of honey and lavender flowers. The ale is lovely, light and easy to drink, the honey adds pockets of intensity, and the lavender flowers, a mild aroma.
The Basmati Blonde was one of the first freshly brewed beers to be available on tap at Toit, Bengaluru. Basmati rice and German pilsner malt come together in this refreshing light ale. The basmati rice adds a slightly nutty aroma to this brew. Namma Beeru, a tribute to Bengaluru, is Toit’s attempt at using local ingredients – in this case, ragi or finger millet (a Karnataka staple) to create a malty, slight nutty drink. Jaggery adds an extra sweetness to this specialty ale. The seasonal Aam Aadmi specialty ale, made with local mangoes, is also a personal favourite. You will get more of an aroma of the fruit rather than its taste in this light refreshing beer. Perfect for the summer.
A beer style which I like to drink all the time is India Pale Ale, which actually came about during the British Raj. Beer being sent to India would get spoilt so the breweries started adding more hops, which made the beers last the long journey and the heat in India. Most of my favourite breweries brew good IPAs, be it Gateway Brewing Co, Independence Brewing Company and Doolally from Maharashtra to Windmills Craftworks, Toit and Arbor Brewing Company in Bengaluru. Gateway’s Summersault is a lighter style of IPA, great for people who are not used to super bitter beers.
Independence Brewing Co. does a fantastic Rye Pale Ale, which is very aromatic, bitter and dry and a Four Grain Saison, which starts with tart flavours like lemons, moves on to spices like pepper and finishes dry and bitter.
The most popular style of beer would be wheat beer; a lot of breweries do both common styles such as a banana and clove dominated hefeweizen, and an orange and coriander dominated witbier. Doolally’s Hefeweizen and Independence’s WitBier would be my picks.
Stouts seem to be more popular that porters, perhaps because of the popularity of Guinness. In Maharashtra, Independence does a great Robust Porter and Gateway recently did a US-style red Porter, the Pompous Ass. Doolally and Mumbai’s Brewbot do stouts which are carbonated with nitrogen for a creamy head.
So my top five picks would be Independence Brewing Co.’s Rye Pale Ale, Gateway Brewing Co.’s Summersault, Doolally’s Porter, Arbor Brewing Company’s IPA and Windmills Craftworks’ IPA.
In case you’re in Bengaluru or Mumbai, we’ve got Hipcask’s craft beer maps below for you.