All these years, you thought wine and cheese was the perfect pair, but guess what, every year Belgium hosts a Cheers fest, where thousands of Belgians turn up to savour cheese with beer. Lager, ale, stout, fruit or draught - there’s a perfect beer for every single type of cheese. And why just cheese, beer’s that one drink that you can pair up with anything — be it a bruschetta, a chicken tikka or your dum biryani. In fact, you can even team up your kulfi with a beer.
Well, saying so, it's however important to pair your beer wisely, and to recognise your taste buds. “There’s no right or wrong pairing. Everybody has a different taste and one can pair accordingly,” said Bram Vaerewyk, a master beer maker from Belgium, who was recently in the Capital. Over a fun beer pairing session at the Smoke House Room, Vaerewyk revealed many interesting facts while clearing several myths about the drink.
Set your wine aside, teaming food with beer is the latest trend. We tell you everything you must know about the drink
Say for instance, beer has probably been more like a summer drink for Indians, but beer can actually be savoured all through the year. “In summer you can go for a refreshing fruit beer, or a wheat beer or may be a lager, while on a cold winter evening, you could go for a stout that has more of roasted malt to lent that warmth,” said Vaerewyk, who is the export manager of Duvel, a Belgium-made craft beer.
And what’s the best beer to pair with Indian food? “One can go for a beer that’s high on alcohol as it helps to wash off the spices,” suggested Vaerewyk. And, if you are one of those who love their beer in all possible forms, you can even whip up a beer infused meal. “You could either cook with beer or may be make a sauce with it for your dish… there’s a lot you can do with the drink,” he said.
Waking up to a ‘crafty’ sip
By all counts, the affair between India’s beer aficionados and their new found love — craft beer — is more than a one night stand. Little known bottles of lager have been silently replacing the old favourites such as Heineken, Budweiser, Corona and even Kingfisher Premium as right from young professionals to seasoned beer lovers, all have broken their vows to grab these microbrewery products.
The craze for this bubbly brew isn’t a mere bubble! With large corporations churning out almost an uniform taste of beer that is too mundane for the beer connoisseur, the demand of craft beer has surged over the past two-three years with importers sending fat pay checks to small breweries across the US, Germany, Belgium and Japan. Ankur Jain, director, Cerana Imports, India’s sole craft beer importer says, one can’t ignore them as small brewers.
“They are giving a tough competition to the biggies. Since 2010, the demand for craft beer in India has increased by 200% per year,” he says. Agrees Rahul Singh, MD, The Beer Café, Gurgaon, “Indians are becoming increasingly experimental with beer. They want variety in yeast content, malt strength and flavour, and that’s why craft beer is a hit.”
While the price of a regular beer in India starts from below Rs 100, craft beer prices are higher, starting from at least Rs 200, yet the demand is high. Globally too, while beer sales dipped 1% last year compared to 2010, sale of craft beer rose by 15%.
Did you know?
Monk’s unique beer Abbey beers, which emerged in Belgium during the First World War, originally referred to beers brewed by monks in a monastery. Since the French Revolution that followed the Reformation in the 18th century, the Benedictine community in Yorkshire is all set to sell Britain’s first Abbey or monastic beer in 450 years.
New beer hot spot
An African has to work three hours to afford a beer, compared with 12 minutes for an European, and yet the continent is gradually emerging as one of the top beer consumers of the world. Four big brewers — SABMiller, Heineken, Castel and Diageo are ploughing in millions to tap the growing beer market in Africa.
Beer’s healthy side
Yeast, a prime ingredient in beer, is rich in nutrients such as magnesium and vitamin B-12 that’s beneficial to health. And if you are worried about getting a beer belly, then remember, drinking beer doesn’t cause a belly, but an overdose surely does. Two beers in five night-outs a week is just fine.
Foreign beers available in the city
More than 50 varieties of foreign beer is currently available in the Capital. While in Beer Cafe, Gurgaon, you’ll find Belgian favourites including Stella, Hoegaarden and Chimay, Australia’s Victoria Bitter, Japan’s Asahi etc, in Hard Rock Cafe you’ll get Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, Murphy’s Irish Stout, Amstel Light and more. Chimay Red continues to be the favourite in Shiro, Chanakyapuri, Popular biggies such as Corona, Heineken, Budweiser etc. are available in most places including 1 Boulevard, The Asia Kitchen, Out of the box and leading liquor shops.
The basic ingredients of beer are water, malted barley or wheat as starch source, yeast for fermentation, and hops (flower clusters) that lend that bitter taste. All of these are used in various proportions for each type of beer.
What’s craft beer
Craft beers are produced by microbreweries that produce a limited amount of beer. Aesthetically ‘crafted’, these beers have a different, sometimes more flavourful taste compared to mass-produced beers.
Jazz up your desi platter with beer
abbey, trappist beer
This aromatic and warm beer is a good choice as it’s high on alcohol, which helps to wash down the spices of the meat curry. You can pair the dish with a Chimay.
A top-fermented light-bodied Belgian wheat beer with a subtle taste will not overpower or kill the flavours of seafood. You can go for a Blue Moon.
With a subdued bitterness, low malt aroma, and slight acidic taste, it balances out the taste of a Hyderabadi biryani that’s loaded with spices. Go for a light to medium bodied
Belgian blonde ale The sweet-n-citrus aroma of this light-coloured beer enhances the crispy, spicy flavour of a tandoor roasted chicken. Duvel could again be a good choice.
An English cool bottom-fermenting yeast lager is a perfect choice to wash down a greasy samosa or tangy chaat. Go for an India Pale Ale or Brooklyn.
A German bottle conditioned wheat beer with yeast sediment and a cloudy appearance will taste well with this spicy paneer. Go for a Weihenstephaner or a Hefeweizen beer.
A beer with fruity notes will be a perfect way to team up this dessert. However, do not chill your beer as that spoils the fruity flavour. You could go for a Liefmans Fruitesse.