Desi twist: Your pint of beer is now available in Indian flavours

  • Apoorva Dutt & Joanna Lobo, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: May 23, 2016 14:27 IST
The masala chai brown ale at The Barking Deer is brewed with real tea, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and clove. It’s a monsoon special, and will be available in June. (TheBarkingDeer)

This summer, enjoy the official fruit of the season, mango, in a different form. Get a chilled glass of cider punctuated with juicy kesar mangoes at Doolally Taproom, Bandra. The drink is so popular that 20% of the beer sales at Doolally are of the mango cider.

But the kesar mango isn’t the most desi thing you’ll find in your beer today. Look around, and get homegrown masala chai, kaapi (filter coffee), kokum or coriander seeds added to your favourite brew.

Microbreweries are cashing in on the current love for craft beer and experimenting with local flavours and ingredients. The Barking Deer in Lower Parel, for instance, has served beer with kokum, black pepper, kala jamun and mango flavours in the past two years; they have a green chilli brew currently on tap. In June, they will launch a masala chai flavour.

“It is fun to play with local flavours, and people are receptive to experiments with familiar flavours,” says Gregory Kroitzsh, founder of Barking Deer.

At Andheri’s BrewBot, Belgian Wit is made with coriander seeds. Craft brewers Gateway Brewing Company will be introducing bhel beer and a jaggery beer next month.

Read: Your ultimate guide to craft beer in Mumbai

Krishna Naik, co-owner of the Gateway Brewing Company, says that he is inspired by the food that he ate as a child. “Pairing flavours is very interesting for us,” he says. “For example, when we made a kaapi stout for our second anniversary in January, we paired it with a strong, robust stout to match. On the other hand, we made Darjeeling and Earl Grey tea infused brew for The Bombay Canteen in Lower Parel, but paired with a lighter pale ale.”

“Beer is versatile, and craft beer volumes are low, so there’s enough space to test different flavours,” says John J Eapen, a beer consultant who blogs about craft beer at Tales of Froth. He has tried honey basil ale, kaapi stout, jaggery ale, and betel leaf-lemongrass brews in Mumbai, in just the past year. “This trend works to the customers’ favour, as it offers much more variety,” he adds.

So the next time you head out for a drink, pass on the stouts and pale ales and try a desi-flavoured brew. The masala chai beer, we hear, tastes best in the monsoon.

Kesar Mango

At Doolally Taproom in Bandra, among the regular rotation of pale ale and dark stout features a summer special — a cider made with kesar mangoes. “The beer has a very strong mango taste, which people love. The sweetness is a great combination with the cider, which always works with fruity flavours,” Doolally co-owner Suketu Talekar.

The sweet flavour of mango is offset by a light cider.

One of the fans of this beer is Maira Kapur, a public relations consultant who lives in Khar. “I am not a beer fan, so whenever my friends would want to go to Doolally I would make a fuss,” says the 23-year-old. “But the mango cider is all I drink there now. It doesn’t even taste like beer.”

Where: Doolally Taproom outlets in Bandra and Andheri

Cost: Rs 240 for a pint

Call: 99693-60726, 99671-02143

Belgian Wit, with coriander

“We call it the Botwork Orange,” says co-partner at the Brewbot Eatery and Brewery, Anand Morwani. “It’s a play on the film Clockwork Orange. The coriander seeds add a distinctly Indian flavour, and an earthy aroma, which pairs well with the taste of beer.”

The coriander seeds add a distinctly Indian flavour, and an earthy aroma. (Aalok Soni/ HT Photo)

There’s only so much you can do with water, yeast and hops — the regular ingredients of beer,” says Lokhandwala-based Bharat Kohli, 25, a digital marketer. “Adding different ingredients is where the fun starts. As an Indian, the taste of coriander is so familiar, which makes it even better.”

Where: Brewbot Eatery and Brewery, G-01 & 101, Morya Landmark 1, Off New Link Road, Andheri (West)

Cost: Rs 250 a pint

Call: 4003-4448

Green chilli

Last week, The Barking Deer launched a spicy, peppery wheat beer, infused with local Bhavanagri chillies. “People loved the spicy kick that came as a surprise,” says Kroitzsh.

The brew is spicy and peppery, and infused with local Bhavanagri chillies.

Where: The Barking Deer Brewpub & Restaurant, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel

Cost: Rs 275 for a pint

Call: 6141-7400

Coming soon

Coming over the next two months to Mumbai taps are Bhel beer and Jaggery beer, says Naik of Gateway Brewing Co. “For the bhel, we added tamarind and chillies to the beer, paired with a slightly darker pale ale. We thought that this spicy brew would be a great addition to monsoon menus.”

Jaggery will replace the regular sugar extract, made from barley in the second flavour. “The jaggery gives it a lovely aftertaste, similar to maple syrup,” adds Naik.

In June, The Barking Deer will launch a masala-chai flavour for the third consecutive year. “People have the image of curling up with masala chai when it rains. We thought they could do the same with beer,” says Kroitzsh. The masala chai brown ale is brewed with real tea, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and clove.

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