Even as the world’s largest people’s fair and beer festival, the Oktoberfest, ends in Munich on Sunday, Indians can continue to guzzle their brew. Despite the beverage’s popularity, people want to go beyond their lager, getting together in informal groups to sample beer.
Mohak Gambhir, 29, a Delhi-based media-technology professional, gets together with his beer-mates who are F1 and football fans, every fortnight. “Earlier we just knew about the draught and bottled stuff, but once these beer garden kind of places opened up in Delhi and Gurgaon, we educated each other on variants like the doosra, googly and bouncer,” he says. Enthused, Gambhir and his pals even visited a Polish brewery last year. “There we tried an awesome beer called Lech!” he grins.
Gurgaon-based photographer Dinesh Khanna, 51, also bonds with his friends over monthly beer sessions. “Till three years back, the best hotels had flowing wine and whiskey menus, but only two words for beer —domestic and imported,” says Delhi-based Ankur Jain, who formed an online beer appreciation community that has garnered 3500 members within a year of its inception. Now, even some Barista outlets serve pints and cans alongside cappuccinos.
Arora explains the three formats that a beer-appreciation event can take. “One, a simple tasting of different beerstyles. A lager has 10-12 sub-styles. Compared to 35-40 grape varietals in wines, there are 85-90 styles of beer in the world. Then, beer and food pairing, where a five-course brunch/dinner is served with five different beers. The third is more casual, with activities associated with beer, like the Oktoberfest.”
The worldwide Hash House Harriers community, which calls itself ‘a drinking group with a running problem’, has been in Delhi since 1983 and has 250 members now. The members run a marathon trail at the end of which they drink beer. Sanjay Arora, a member since 2003, says they are “hardened beer drinkers” who meet 2-3 times a week to run a 10-km stretch “come rain or sun” and relax with “gallons of chilled beer” after. They have customs like ‘punishing’ a member who comes with new shoes by making him/her drink beer from them! For the Oktoberfest celebration, the group is planning a party on October 9. Bring on the beer cheer!