All posts by Navin Mittal

About Navin Mittal

Navin Mittal is the founder of Gateway Brewing Co. – Mumbai’s first packaging craft brewery. He has been brewing since 7+ years and has been educated at Brewlab.co.uk. Check out www.gatewaybrewery.com and on twitter @gatewaybrewery.

Beervana – New Born Beer – Navin Mittal

The Gateway Brewing Company Tap Head
The Gateway Brewing Company Tap Head

Giving birth to a new beer…

People who brew beer do so with a strong focus on flavour and drinkability and those who are adept at brewing are in all practical senses like chefs. Make them taste a dish (or, in our case, taste a beer) and they start thinking about what went into creating that experience.

 

 

Gateway Co-founders

I have been a home brewer since 2006 and have brewed over 150 batches of beer and most of what you drink from Gateway Brewing Co., is one of my recipes (obviously with contribution from our brewers) tweaked to suit a 1000 litre batch size. What is really important here is that we brewers create beers that we like to drink as well! Having said that, how does one go about giving birth to a new beer? Or, why?

Let’s start with the why as it is quite straight forward: Boredom or a desire to create something new. Craft beer drinkers (those of us who drink beer for taste rather than only inebriation) like to explore and savour various flavours and after drinking the same beer for many months, we want something new. Along these lines, there are many that like to experiment. Be bold. Stay off the beaten path. Be different. Get it?

For us, at Gateway, it is the same thing. We want to keep things fresh and want to change our offerings on a regular basis so that people get a chance to explore new flavours. So, how do we do it? Simple. Get inspired and let our thoughts run wild.

Czech Beer

 

Recently, I was in Prague, Czech Republic, for a vacation and had the opportunity to drink the dark lager that is widely available there. I wanted to brew this beer and make it available to all the craft beer lovers because it is such a great beer – Sweet, malty with caramel and subtle coffee notes. It goes very well with their traditional bread and is simply divine.

 

Being a brewer (chef, if you may), thoughts started popping into my head and a recipe was born. At first, it is only a thought. A few tweaks and the final beer is born. Let me take you through the process of creating the beer in a very non-technical manner.

Think about art & craft in school and about mixing colours. Think about tea & toast.

Here goes…

  1. The beer is dark so we will need some dark brown or black colours

Beer is made with barley malt that is a light beige in colour. Just like the crust of the bread you eat at home. How do you make it dark or black? Toast it, right? Exactly the same thing happens with beer. We take a portion (say 5%) of the barley malt and roast it to a light-to-medium brown colour. If we roast it further (or, burn it) and make it black, guess what flavours we will get? Burnt and coffee flavours. We want some of that in the beer so a light-to-medium brown colour will do.

Next time you are eating toast, try different levels of toasting. See if you can pick-up notes of caramel, coffee etc. in the toast.

  1. The beer is sweetish so we need to have some sugar

We don’t really add sugar to the beer but we extract sugar from the barley malt in the brewing process. This sugar (maltose) is then fermented into beer and it contains alcohol and carbon di-oxide. A higher amount of sugar will result in a beer that is sweetish.

Also, hops are bittering agents added to beer to ensure that it is not overly sweet. So, if you add less of it, you will have a sweetish beer. Finally, to ensure sweetness, you can add barley malts that have been roasted wet. These malts add a caramel sweetness to beer. Think caramelised sugar!

  1. The beer is malty with caramel and subtle coffee notes so we need some of these ingredients

We can add cold extracted coffee that will give us these flavours but it is not necessary. Roasting the barley malt and adding, perhaps 1%, of very highly roasted malt (think burnt bread), does the trick.

  1. Beer has alcohol so, add alcohol

Just kidding. We don’t add alcohol to make beer. It is produced by the yeast in the process of fermentation. We control that by controlling the quantity of sugar (derived as maltose from barley malt) available to the yeast. More sugar = more alcohol.

This is a simple take on how we create recipes at Gateway. Feel free to read more about the hobby of making beer at home and how to create recipes. It is truly rewarding. Or, at the very least, try drinking different craft beer and start identifying flavours in them! Enjoy.

Navin Mittal

Beervana – Romancing the Beer – Navin Mittal

While the title of the article has been inspired by Valentine’s Day that’s just passed, it brings fond memories of the 1984 film, Romancing the Stone, starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner & Danny DeVito. I had seen this film when I was in college but after seeing it recently, a thought came to mind: A second take on many things in life offer a much deeper and meaningful experience. Might I say, a different sort of a romance.

So, to you, the avid beer guzzler, is it time to start romancing the beer? I don’t mean taking the bottle and embracing it or using it as a prop in your adventurous sexual life, but thinking about what beer is and what it means to you. If you do that, I guarantee you that there is romance in beer.

Lager
Lager
Pilsner
Pilsner

Until 2006, my experience with beer had been only the yellow liquid that is served in every bar in this country. Fortunately, I now know that wasn’t beer. Beer in India is a watered down example of either the German beer style called ‘Lager’ or the beer from Pilzen, Czech Republic called ‘Pilsner’. These beer styles are very popular and if one tasted authentic examples, they would realize that what we drink in India doesn’t even come close. In the quest to produce beers that appeal to everyone at the cheapest price points, large commercial breweries have re-defined beer for which one needs to ‘acquire’ a taste. Really? Try a German style wheat beer (ale) if you travel to Germany. It’s really tasty! Along this realm, I believe beers are delicious. To get you on the path to romancing the beer, here is what I recommend:

Go to a bar of your choice, on Valentine’s Day if you like, with a bunch of your friends and ask for the varieties of beer available at the bar. Avoid anything that has a bird on it in its myriad forms and anything that they call ‘lager’ or ‘pilsner’. Look for imports or for locally produced craft beers. Fortunately, there are many locally producing craft breweries in Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Gurgoan.

diff glassOrder one and then take a sip. Perhaps you will like it. Perhaps you won’t. But don’t give up. Take another sip and think why this beer (the one in your hand) is different from the ones you are used to drinking. This will be your start. If you are like many who loved the beer, chances are that you have been saved. Now your adventure begins. If you didn’t like it, order a different one. It’s not like you are wasting your money because you will get drunk if you have many of these just like you would having the yellow liquid. At least, now you will be able to say that you tired the beers and know more about what beer can be. Ask the waiter what beer he served you, where it is from and what is different about it. Explore & savour.

Just like there is so much to experience in the food realm, beer also has a plethora of adventures to offer. First, let’s get some basics hashed out: Beer is an alcoholic beverage that is made with water, barley malt, hops and yeast. Combining these ingredients in different ways produces different types of beer. Just like your good old ‘daal’.Guju daal, Sindhi daal, Punjabi daal….

Barley
Barley

Malt is either malted barley or malted wheat. It is a source of starch that gets converted into sugar by naturally occurring enzymes. This sugar from malt is required by the yeast for growth through a process called fermentation that produces alcohol and carbon dioxide as by-products and ultimately, what we call beer.

 

 

Hops
Hops

Hops are vinous plants that grow in temperate climates and produce hop cones (female flowers are what everyone wants!) that contain Alpha Acids for bittering and essential oils for aroma and flavour. Extracted sugar from malted grains is very sweet. It is essential to balance the sweetness or, go over the top if you like, by adding bittering hops. Aroma hops are added to extract aroma and flavour.

If the water is good for drinking, it is good for beer. Some things to consider are: it should be colourless, odourless and tasteless. Yes, it is that simple.

 

Yeast is a unicellular fungus that is critical for making beer. There is lager yeast & ale yeast. Lager yeast ferments at a lower temperature of 8C – 10 C and produces beers that let malt & hop flavour shine. But, if fermentation is hurried, the result is disappointing. Ale yeast on the other hand ferments between 16C – 22C. Due to the higher temperature, ale yeasts produce esters (basically aromas and flavours not found in lagers) which make them unique. That, in my opinion, is fabulous. Yeast ferments the sugars and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. In other words, BEER!

 

 

What’s next? Knowing the basics form the basis for your romance. Go out there and never ever drink the yellow liquid they call beer. Romance the colours, aromas and the flavours of lagers and ales that can be of hues ranging across the entire colour spectrum.As for taste, less said the better. Let your senses guide you!

You, the avid beer drinker, have just learnt the art of Romancing the beer!

This article is contributed by Navin Mittal