Tag Archives: Beer

Beervana – India Pale Ale – Navin Mittal

[vc_column width=”1/1″]Editors Note – International IPA Day is on 6th August. To mark the same, we get Navin Mittal, the co founder of Gateway Brewery, one of India’s leading craft brewers to talk about his love for IPA (India Pale Ale) and how that has translated into the various styles of IPA which Gateway brews up.

When I first came across a beer that had India Pale Ale written on the label, I didn’t quite know how to react. Just like Bombay in Bombay Sapphire, I incorrectly thought that someone had stolen the prefix – India. How dare they use India when it hadn’t been made in India. Can Indians use Scotch whiskey for the whiskey we make in India? Fuc***g thieves! Let’s sue them and take it back!

But before I began my argument, I was told that the India Pale Ale is a style of beer that was brewed in England and shipped to India in the 1820s for consumption by the British troops. Since the journey was long, it was made stronger (higher alcohol acts as a natural preservative) and more hops were added, again, to preserve the beer. Hence, India Pale Ale (IPA).

Ok! So now I get it! But are they allowed to use India in the name? Anyways….

Until this moment, to me, beer was just beer! I didn’t think about it at all. I just drank what was available and called it a night! But now, I wanted to know more and Google helped out. Beer styles, to the common drinker (myself included before 2006), don’t quite mean much unless they spend time and understand them. When I started reading, I came across many stories about how the India Pale Ale (IPA) came into being. Not only that, I also learned that there were different types of beers available across the world (not all yellow and fizzy) and that one can also brew beer at home and it is a raging hobby in the United States. I was smitten! To cut the long story short, my love for beer led to brewing beer at home and then to the founding of Gateway Brewing Co., in Mumbai.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Since our launch, we have had 3 beers on tap in various bars across the city. But the IPA has always been my favourite and also the one that has changed the most over the course of the years. People who understand and love beers, love the IPA and its many variants. You see, over 2 centuries, brewers have interpreted the IPA style in 1000s of different ways. Different levels of alcohol, bitterness and aroma! Wow. What variety!

So, what does an IPA taste like? Our launch IPA was inspired by American IPAs and it was strong, had a good amount of sweetness from malt but was balanced with a healthy dose of bitterness from hops and capped off with another class of hops for a heady burst of aroma. Now, isn’t this something you want to drink in place of the ‘yellow water’. I do hope so!

After few months, we changed the recipe and this time around drew inspiration from the west coast of United States. Aptly called West Coast IPA, this brew employed a new dry-hopping technique to impart a grassy aroma and a slightly dry / astringent note to the beer. Once again, another layer of flavour.

West Coast IPA
West Coast IPA

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Having done American inspired IPAs, we decided to brew another recipe that I learned while studying in the UK. This IPA was less bitter, had a lower alcohol level but was still very flavourful and delicious to drink. One could have more than a few glasses. Easily. It was called Summer Sault IPA. With this brew, we also changed the hops a few times to give it different aroma and infused some Indian spices as well. Jugaad OR Summersault? You decide!

Summersault IPA
Summersault IPA

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Then came A1 – India Pale Ale. Single malt. Single hop. Truly A1.

A1 India Pale Ale
A1 India Pale Ale

I can go on and on about IPAs and their variants but what’s the point in reading. Go out there, get an IPA. Hell, get as many as you can and savour the flavour. 6th August is International IPA day and if it doesn’t mean much to you today, I can only say that it should. For without an IPA or its variants, we would be stuck with ‘yellow water’ they call beer!

Navin Mittal[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Beervana – From Belgium with Love – Pankaj Arora

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Setting the scene

We met these Belgian beers recently at the Belgian High Commissioner’s residence in Delhi. If you’re lucky, so will you at a retail store near you or bar. If not, they’re worth embarking on a pilgrimage to Belgium.

Amit Agarwal (Hema Connoisseur), Rahul Singh (The Beer Cafe), Vikram Achanta (Tulleeho), Karina Agarwal (Gigglewater)
Amit Agarwal (Hema Connoisseur), Rahul Singh (The Beer Cafe), Vikram Achanta (Tulleeho), Karina Agarwal (Gigglewater)

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Pils n’ Love

The brand name of this beer derives from the slogan “Peace and Love”. This is a great beer with a nice biscuity taste. It has a pleasant aroma of light honey and the foam is nice, creamy and stiff. This beer is ideal for the  Indian palate as we like a lots of flavour in every bite / sip. Pils N Love[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]

Blanche de Silly

This is also a great beer for the Indian palate as is a wheat beer, a style of beer which has become increasingly familiar and liked by Indian palates the past few years. The bitterness is just right for the Indian palate. This beer has a nice creamy texture which layers your mouth and gives a refreshing feel after every sip.

Blance de Silly[/vc_column_text]

Gulden Draak

This is a nice high alcoholic beer which is another asset for the Indian palate. It is a dark beer, with a complex taste with hints of caramel, roasted malt and coffee. The name literally means Golden Dragon.

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Duchesse de BourgogneFoto_duchesse_75_25

Quite a pleasing style of beer. It might not go down well with men, due to a sweeter taste profile, but can be a hit with female drinkers. It’s brewed with reddish barley malts and has low bitterness.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]

Saison du Pont

A perfect beer for the Indian palate.Has all the characters of a perfect beer – citrusy notes, not very bitter, creamy and stiff foam, perfectly sized bubbles and the right alcoholic strength. A second comer to the Indian market, we are hoping it gains re-entry and is a success this time.

Saison Dupont

by Pankaj Arora[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Beervana – Drinking in Bamberg

[vc_column width=”1/1″]If you see someone walking around with a  beatific smile on their face in Bamberg, it’s not because they’ve just to the Bamberg Cathedral, but they’re most probably on their 2nd or maybe even 3rd or 4th glass of Schlenkerla, the Rauchbier (smoked beer), which has drawn me straight to Bamberg, forsaking a tiny little beer festival in the Munich, called Oktoberfest. “Purpose of Visit”, asked the Passport officer at a crowded Munich airport, “Tourism I said, I’m going to Bamberg to drink the Schlenkerla”, and he broke into a laugh, “It’s dangerous he said, but you can’t drink just one, at least 2 or 3”, before going on to verify my return ticket and my hotel booking. Careful, these Germans. Not swayed by talk of beer into neglecting due diligence (did someone just say Volkswagen 🙂


Bamberg escaped too much damage to it during the Allied bombing raids in the 2nd World War, a factor which has led to the entire city being declared a World Heritage site, and a prettier little city, you’d be hard pressed to find. Not one, but two water bodies pass through it, the river Regnitz, and a canal of the Danube. It’s historical points of interest are many, from the aforementioned Dom (cathedral), to the Alt Rathaus (Old Council House), which straddles the Regnitz, with 2 gates lending a picturesque touch to the bridges crossing it. And the former Benedictine abbey of Michaelsberg which dominates the horizon. An early morning jog in the crisp October air, helps clear the head a bit from the beer drunk last night. The townhouses kissing the river are a marvellous sight, and windows are filled with flower pots in full bloom. A town which knows its reputation, and is proud of it. (they even have t-shirts in the local souveneir shop saying, I’m not a tourist, I live here”).

 

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]The Schlenkerla brewpub is located in a townhouse, with flower pots studding the balconies. A more unlikely looking temple to beer, I haven’t seen. As a solo traveler, it appears to be futile to find a table, as I walk through the many different rooms within, all full. The thronging street outside however has the over flow with a number of people hanging around the entrance with mugs in their hand, taking advantage of the still balmy climate. The modus operandi of getting a glass is simple. On the ground floor is a hole in the wall, behind which is a man and a keg, who serves the tables as well as those less fortunate. Euro 4.70, gets you a half litre glass of jet black beer, topped with a foaming head (out of which Euro 2 is the deposit for the glass).

I wish I could have bottled the smell of the beer. It was a unique, smokey flavour, which Ashish Jasuja told me, reminded him of bacon! It was strong and worthy of the caution which the passport officer had advised me of. I could feel the beer going to my head. I sip it gently, and then head out for another walk to clear my head, I then duck back into Schlenkerla’s neighbour, a brew house called Ambrausianum, and scan their menu. I notice then, that even they serve Schlenkerla’s beer. If you can’t beat em, join em! I order their Dunkel (dark) beer, and was soon the proud possessor of another half litre glass of excellent beer.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Next I clock into my hotel (the Alt Ringlein’s) restaurant, where the waitress assigns me a seat on a long table, while a family hold up one end. Here I ask for a small of their Blonde beer, which is brewed for them by another famous brewery in Bamberg called Mahrs. Mahrs is located a bit away from the centre of the action, so I was glad to find a few of their beers at my hotel. The Blonde by my side, I go ahead and order the Franconian Sour Beef, served with sauerkraut and potatoes. By now I am blindly functioning under the assumption that if it has Franconiain in front of it, it must be good! With Franconian courage jostling around in my system, I order a large Mahrs Weisse Beer to accompany my beef.


I slept well! And on the morning after my run and a well laid out spread for breakfast in my hotel, headed out camera in hand to take advantage of the brilliant weather. Back at the hotel, I order my taxi to the station, as I am Oktoberfest bound, but I still have time to duck into Scheiners Gasstuben, the bar opposite my hotel, which has the advantage unlike Schlenkerla, of having al fresco seating. There I order another mug of Schlenkerla! My Schlenkerla tryst however doesn’t end there. At the Bamberg station, the shop is selling bottles for 2 Euros, and I pick up 2, one each to gift my Air BnB hosts in Munich and Berlin, my next points of halt.

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Beer Cocktails

International Beer Day was celebrated on August 7th. For us, every day is Beer Day however. Here are 3 cocktails to help along.

Michelada

Originally a sort of beer-lemonade rumoured to have been invented by one Michel in Mexico, the Michelada eventually had other sauces and condiments added to it resulting in the spicier recipes of today. This is one version.

Ingredients

  • Lager beer                     1 pint
  • Lime juice                      10 ml
  • Worcestershire sauce  2 dashes
  • Soy sauce                       1 dash
  • Tabasco sauce               1 dash
  • Black pepper                 a pinch
  • Salt                                  a pinch
  • Ice                                    to fill glass
  • Lime peel                        to garnish

Preparation

Build the drink in the glass by first adding all the ingredients except the beer into the glass over lots of ice. Then add the beer, stir gently, garnish with the lime peel and serve.

Narangi

Beer and orange is a delicious combination. We have made it even tastier with the addition of Cointreau and fresh mint. You may never want to drink plain old beer again!

Ingredients

  • Lager beer   1 pint
  • Cointreau     30 ml
  • Orange slices        3
  • Mint leaves  5-6

Preparation

Gently muddle the mint leaves in the glass. Add the Cointreau and top with beer. Toss in the orange slices, serve and savour.

Black Velvet

black-velvet-290x195This classic cocktail was first created by the bartender at the Brook’s Club of London in 1861, to mourn the passing of Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert. It was supposed to symbolize the black armbands worn by mourners. You no longer need a reason to mourn to enjoy this drink.

Ingredients

  • Guinness stout      1 can
  • Champagne          1 quart

Preparation

Half-fill the glass with the Guinness. Now gently float the champagne over it by sliding it down against the inside of the glass. Serve immediately.

All recipes, courtesy, the Tulleeho Book of Cocktails.

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

Confessions of a Brewer – Rohit Parwani

Rohit Parwani is Brewmaster @ The Biere Club, Bangalore

If I wasn’t making beer, I’d beA mathematician

Strangest ingredient I’ve added in my brew has beenThree blind mice :-O Just kidding. Strangest has to be Chilly

Favourite beer town isNamma Bengaluru \m/

People who complain about hoppy beers should beGiven less hoppy ones. Beer for one, beer for all

As a brewer my number one asset is myCreativity 🙂


The only thing people take for granted more than beer isMilk 😐

Something a brewer should never do isPay for beer 😀

The beer I love which everyone else hates is …. The one with the three blind mice. They say its ratty… I love a smooth American IPA

My desert island beer is ….. Desperados, for sure desperadosRohit J. Parwani

Beervana – Oktoberfest Origins – Part II

Jan-Feb-March-April-Oktober-Nov-Dec

The author explores why the weather gods snipped the “brewing” calendar which fortuitously led to the phenomenon of the Oktoberfestbier

The Duke of Bavaria was apparently quite resolute in solving the problem of bad quality beer in his kingdom. Several problems had arisen due to use of harmful, toxic substances which were used instead or alongside hops. In 1516 to make his intentions clear he issued what is today the oldest still valid food law on the planet: The Reinheistsgebot or the Purity law which stipulated that only barley, hops and water would be used to make beer. Yeast somehow does not find mention since it was not clearly deciphered at that time.

Further not content with the quality of his Kingdoms beer, Duke Albrecth the V in 1553 announced a ban on summer brewing. From spring to fall, brewers had to seek alternate employment (and the luckier ones could go on vacation!). As pointed out in the previous article this was in order to make beers less susceptible to contamination in the warmer degrees of summer. This event has been described by some historians as the most under reported event in brewing history. It led to the great divide between north and south German brewing styles, the latter relying on the winter-suited bottom fermenting yeasts whereas the former on the warmer top fermenting yeasts.

Bottom fermenting yeasts finally found perpetuity in the cold climes of Bavaria. Winter beers were anyways being fermented by bottom fermenting yeasts and the clean palate of these beers was appreciated as being “pure”. These bottom fermented yeasts were present in the Bavarian and Czech regions but where did this strain originate? Hold your breath! The latest evidence points out that these yeasts travelled all the way from the Patagonia forests in southern Chile and made their way into a fermentation trough somewhere in the 14th century!

Already a few years before the summer brewing ban, a different strategy to overcome partly the problem of high summer temperatures has been devised. Deep cellars were dug where it was noticed that temperatures were a couple of notches lower. Not only cooler, these cellars were also insulated against changes in weather conditions above ground. Ice from the winter gone by would be used in these deep cellars to provide lower temperatures. To appreciate this effect drive into one of those deep trenches called “parking” under your favourite shopping mall! Secondly, beers started being brewed stronger to withstand the higher summer temperatures. As an outcome beer in summer was almost twice in price to winter prices to compensate the stronger brew (more grain) and longer storage time.

The ban on summer brewing sounds counter-productive since summer is the peak time for consumption. Although the seasonality in consumption would have been lower than it is like in a country like India it still would have meant an overdrive in brewing activities end summer in order to stock up on beer to last until the brewing season recommences in fall. Simply put a bountiful quantity of beer would have to be brewed and then stored in the labyrinth of cellars. And that’s exactly what they did. Scores of tunnels were dug in the outskirts of the cities and towns to store beer. Large chestnut trees planted above the cellars with their shady overtures acted as sun screen further shielding the beer from the soaring mercury. The spirit of beer prevailed when refrigeration led to the obvious disuse of these cellars but the chestnut trees & the area surrounding them evolved befittingly into beer gardens!

The mass produced beer typically produced towards the end of March to provide supplies all through summer came to be known as Maerzen, the German word for March. To remind you again, this beer was brewed stronger to overcome the long summer storage period in deep cellars. Eventually in September by the time fall was fast approaching and the brewers could get back to their grind, the barrels were needed to be consumed in a hurry which evidently led to the arduous task of decanting the beer barrels into beer bellies! Consequently the public in general took upon this onerous responsibility which resulted in a “fest” like atmosphere. Maerzen = fest bier.  The turning point came on October 12, 1810 which was the day, the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The generous newlyweds decided to organize a grand wedding revelry for its subjects on some grazing land in the outskirts of Munich. That meadow was then given its current name of Theresienwiese (Theresa’s meadow), in honour of the Crown Princess. King Ludwig organised a public celebration anniversary of his nuptials which evolved into the Okteberfest: perhaps an equivalent in the beer world of the monumental expression of love of Shah Jahan for his better half. To this day, the Theresienwiese (now known in local vernacular as just the “Wies’n”) is still the site of the annual Munich Oktoberfest

You might raise your eyebrows when I tell you that Oktoberfestbier is not the beer style served at the greens of the “Wies.’n”. Originally the beer that was a stronger or fest version of the then predominant beer in Munich: the Munich Dunkel. This beer style graced the grand occasion in 1810. However in 1841 there began to be a change in the recipe which started to use a paler type of malt called the Vienna malt. Therefore the beer lightened in colour to get an amberish hue. Then around 1870 came the moment when the Spaten brewery commenced to use a new type of malt:”Munich malt”. This malt was darker than the Vienna malt but lighter than the erstwhile dunkel fest beer. This resulted in an amberish-orange hue in fest beers and this is also when the beer was explicitly marketed as an Okotoberfestbier, a rare time marker to the exact origin of a beer style.

When I visited the fest a few years ago I was expecting to drown in this amberish nectar but was surprised to see a rather deep golden looking brew in my MaSS (one liter beer mug) Apparently to make the festival beer more drinkable and by that inducing copious consumption, the style was adapted to the Helles (=light in colour in German) style which Munich became famous for since the late 19th century. This event happened somewhere in the 1970s and since then the beer served at the Oktoberfest is not actually the Oktoberfestbier style but rather a stronger version of the Helles beer brewed to fest strength. I admit candidly that it doesn’t really matter which beer style they serve at the Oktoberfest.  The gates will open at 9 am and youll be sitting in a huge beer tent in company of thousands of strangers from all over the planet who instantaneously turn into friends on first glug. And that’s the real spirit of the Oktoberfest!

(The author has visited the fest in 2009 & recommends frugality to the readers for the next few months. Visit the Oktoberfest from 20th of Sept till 5th of October 2015)

Ashish Jasuja

Beervana – Oktoberfest Origins – Part I

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Jan-Feb-March-April-Oktober-Nov-Dec

The author explores how the weather gods snipped the “brewing” calendar which fortuitously led to the phenomenon of the Oktoberfestbier

If you were a brewer in 16th century Baviaria you could have had the enviable luxury of a 5 month vacation between April and Oktober. But mind you, not before you’ve had to endure long double-shift workdays in the months of March & April. Just how could a brewer enjoy the privilege of a near-perpetual vacation? Who would then brew when the brewer was away? Well worry not, the answers lie in degree Celcius or Farenheit, take your pick!

As a backdrop, it’s fundamental to understand that beer is a living product since it contains living yeast cells (and sometimes other microorganisms!). In testament to the relativity of things, what we simply call beer is a vast universe for the microscopic living creatures. It was only until a century ago that thermal & filtration related techniques along with some fancy chemistry were applied with the aim of creating stable products. Todays mass produced modern bottled/kegged beers are pasteurised & packed inert thereby killing all the “living” part of beer. These techniques altered the beer landscape unimaginably since they led to the creation of products that were consistent in quality & taste but nevertheless “dead”.

Yeast, the main protagonist in the process of fermenting sugars into alcohol, is quite fussy and works only in limited temperature ranges. The two broad categories of yeast are

  • top fermenting yeasts: usually finish fermentation in 3-4 days operating happily between 62 F- 69 F (17 C – 21C), produce estery/fruity flavours.
  • bottom fermenting yeasts: take about 10 days to complete fermentation working best between 39F and 48 F (4-9 C), produce fairly clean tasting & crisp beers.
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Oktoberfest

It’s therefore intuitive to conclude that before the advent of refrigeration the former worked best in summer and the latter in winter. Brewers of yore didn’t exactly know this. It wasn’t until the 19th century that brewers, aided by scientific advances in microscopy, would begin to understand the intricate working of yeast and therefore would be able to identify & isolate them to ensure consistency in product. By isolating them and storing them meticulously it was possible to “fix” certain yeast in the recipe which played a major role in ensuring a consistent flavour profile. Different subtypes of yeasts were eventually profiled and today’s brewer has the option of choosing from slew of little creatures wanting to munch on those malt sugars.

However in earlier times brewers had a cursory idea about what yeast did but they could not fathom what exactly it was and how it performed the magic that produced elation (=alcohol). Forget being selective about yeasts the brewers didn’t have control over the type of yeast that beatified their beer. Most times it could be safely assumed that both bottom and top fermented yeasts along with some possibly gate-crashing wild yeast were operating in beer.  Obviously yeast strains were a matter of happenstance and would depend to a great extent on the ambient temperatures. Nature played its role: bottom fermenting beers would take prevalence in winters and the top fermenting species ruled the roost during the warmers summer months. But there was a problem in summer a host of other micro-organisms could also find the cozy comfort of beer bubbles in such sultry temperatures. Such unintended infusions of wild strains of yeast and other bacteria would heighten during the hot summer months which made production unreliable. Typically this caused “infections” in beer which made them go sour or develop horrible off flavours. In such weather one could not also dare to store beer for longer time frames since spoilage was accelerated.  While it might not be a completely apt example, think about the odd flavour of the jug of milk you accidently left outside the refrigerator after a late night hot-chocolate-driven hunger pang.

Oktoberfest 2
Oktoberfest

Consequently, many European towns had the highest output of beer in springs in the months of March &  this dropped through the summer months and then picked up again in November and December. One cannot discount the significance of the invention of refrigeration to beer: refrigeration provided the “invention of the wheel” moment in the life of beer.  If refrigeration existed it would have been possible to regulate beer temperature in the range that kept out unwanted micro predators, thereby improving quality and palatability. Further it would have made possible to ferment in either the bottom fermenting or the top fermenting yeast temperature ranges. However much before Mr Linde could work his trick with ammonia, beer and brewing in summer were relegated to being a dubious proposition. To quote an example, the British navy was a huge consumer of beer but they too were troubled as can be garnered from the innumerable instances of the Naval Victualling Dept. receiving letters of complaint about soured beer that had been brewed from May to September.

Although limited by exacting knowledge, brewers and market regulators devised several strategies to overcome the risks of contamination during summer:

-Start work earlier in summer to avoid exposure higher temperatures as the day wore on. In summer it was often necessary to mash-in (dissolve the ground malt in water) at night, when the air was cooler. At Haarlem in Holland for example a typical day of work started at 5:30 a. m. in winter but 4:00 a. m. in the summer. The earlier hour was to keep the beer from being exposed to sunlight and heat.

-Hops do act as a preservative with anti-bacterial properties. Hence it was not uncommon to use higher hop rates in summer in order to enhance keeping qualities. Brewing a stronger beer that could provide more protection by higher alcohol content was a similar strategy.

-Beer according to many town regulations was made to sit in the brewery to make sure that it had been completely fermented before it was left out in the market. But these regulations were relaxed in the summer times. In Amsterdam for instance it was mandatory for beer to sit in the brewery for four days before it could go on the market, but only three days in the warm months of June, July and August.

– Storing beer after production in deep cellars to lower the temperature influence on beer

But the Duke of Bavaria had a more radical solution: a blanket ban on summer brewing. The official brewing season was, therefore, restricted to between St. Michael’s Day (September 29) and St. IMG_0200George’s Day (April 23). It was a regulation that would have immense effect on how South Germany developed its beer styles and also how the Oktoberfestbier went eventually on tap. I also hope that explains the title of this article! We continue on in Part 2 of this series in our next issue..

Ashish Jasuja

Beervana – 3..2..1.. Launch – Bira 91

The name Bira evokes different things to people from different part of India. If you’re from Punjab, then you’ll probably equate it to “big brother” and if you’re from the west of India, then it’s also a slang which you might relate to. What it does however definitely stand for is well crafted beer, imagined in India and made with Belgian beer making prowess. It’s apt therefore that we’re at the residence of the Belgian ambassador to India, Mr. Jan Luykx and his wife, Mrs. Raka Singh (the marriage being another example of a Indo-Belgian partnership that has worked!) to celebrate the launch of Bira in India.

Ankur Jain of Cerana (left) and Mr. Jan Luykx, the Ambassador of Belgium (on right)
Ankur Jain of Cerana (left) and Mr. Jan Luykx, the Ambassador of Belgium (on right)

The full name of the beer is Bira 91, and the 91 signifies the India country code. The logo itself is that of a playful monkey, with the monkey signifying the playful and youthful nature of the brand, as well as personifies the intelligence which you’d associate with monkey’s.

Tulleeho's Rakshit Khurana leads media representatives through a tasting
Tulleeho’s Rakshit Khurana leads media representatives through a tasting

Bira 91 marks Cerana’s evolution from an importer of specialty beer to a brewer. Ankur of Cerana felt that the time was right for Indian consumers to pay a premium for a young Indian brand of beer. It’s been positioned as “the first craft beer with a youthful Indian identity, a brand that is trendy, fun, social, smart and unconventional.”

There are two variants being launched to start with, the White, which is a wheat beer and the Blonde, which is an extra hoppy craft lager.

An IPA is scheduled for release for the summer of 2015. Cerana is brewing these to their specifications in Belgium, and shipping them over to India and Ankur doesn’t rule out local production in time to come.

Bira is (or will shortly be) available both on tap in bars as well as in bottle, in major retail outlets, in NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata.

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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

Beervana – The World’s most popular Beer style

Pilsgate

It took a brave heist and a handful of serendipities to brew the world’s most popular beer style

India’s most familiar beer style is actually India’s least available beer style. Confused? Well let me explain, the beer world is dichotomised by the riotously fecund yeast strain used for fermentation. There is yeast that merrily rises to the top of the fermenting vessels to produce ales or top fermenting beers and then the other types mellow down & sink to the abyss thereby creating lagers or bottom fermented beers. Generally speaking ales are fruitier and less cleaner/crisper on the palate as compared to lagers.

The Indian beer market is predominantly a lager market and from the multitude of lager brands the one style that every Indian beer drinker worth his hops can name is the Pilsener or simply Pils. Blame it on the empty, stunted Kings beer bottles that adorned your Goa beachchairs or perhaps the tiny, cramped tables in those seedy South Bombay bars which could never make enough room for the London Pilsners after an evening of post work debauchery. But were these quenchers really what they claimed to be? Well I’m not a purist but then again I’m not a big fan of cover bands too! Will the real Pilsner please stand up?

The story traces back to the year 1839 in a namesake town called Pilsen (Plzen) in the Czech Republic. The bourgeois from this town were devising plans to open a nonchalant cooperative brewery with the worthy aim of improving the general beer quality in town (and also apparently competition from beer imports into Pilsen). Little did these fortuitous souls know that they were on the verge of creating beer history. What transpired in the creation of the phenomenon Pilsner:

  • Bavarian “Influence”: Generally speaking at that point of time all beers in the area that we know as the Czech Republic today were ales but the neighbouring Bavarians had by then mastered the art of lager fermentation for almost three centuries. A brewmaster named Josef Groll was hired by the Pilsen cooperative and it has been postulated that he arranged to smuggle the sought after Bavarian lager yeast to Pilsen besides bringing Bavarian brewing techniques to the brewery.
  • H2O: The water around Pilsen was very soft as compared to other famous brewing centers and this helped in a way to reduce the accentuation of bitterness of the beer which we will see is curiously interlinked with the hop profile of the beer.
  • Lightness: The Czechs had started to understand at the same time better kilning techniques in order to conjure up malts that were light in colour. In general beers were were much darker at that time since kilning methods were a lot harsher due to technological constraints. And thus was created arguably the world’s first golden lager.
  • Goblets & Pilsners: We from this generation would find it hard to imagine but in the early 19th century clear glasses to savour our beers were a prerogative of the rich. It was around the same time the wise men of Pilsen were brewing history that glasses were started to be produced in droves for the common junta. No prizes for guessing the effect bright golden colour of the Pils had when seen through these glasses.
  • The “scent” of Hops: The area of Pilsen is in proximity to get world class hops and malt, the yin and yan ingredients of beer to balance the sweet with the bitter. Hops were sourced from a nearby region called Zatec which is renowned for aromatic, almost perfumy hops which complimented the soft water in a manner that the bitterness was subdued (still quite bitter really!) compared to the bouquet of aromas from the hops. The malt from the Moravian region contained low protein thereby contributing to clarity in the soon to appear mass produced beer glasses.

PUWith all the pre-conditions in place the beer from Pilsen began to flow in 1842 and very soon the beer style aptly named the Pilsner arose. Eventually a brand appropriately called the Pilsner Urquell was born, the word Urquell roughly translates to “the original source”. Many tried and still do but once you’ve tasted the original the imitators leave much to be desired. It’s not surprising that even to this day the Pilsner Urquell brewery churns out magnanimous volumes (around 10 million hectolitres from one brewery or half of India’s total brewing capacity from more than 30 breweries!) that flow through worldwide distribution of the “real” thing. Many breweries rode the Pilsner bandwagon & produced imitations which were eventually tailored to suit production budgets and local ingredients. Somewhere the essence of the real Pilsner is lost in these vagaries.

The differences between the Indian Pils and the real Pils are easy to tell: the real Pils only uses 100% malt whereas the Indian version use other grains besides malt (so much less body in the Indian Pils), the bitterness/hopping rate of the Indian beers is much lower than the Pilsen beer, the aromatic properties of the Pilsen beer are much more pronounced and authentic giving the beer a much more delicate & aromatic profile. The difference my friends lie in the pedigree.

So the next time you head out to that fancy liquor boutique try your luck for the legendary Pilsner Urquell. Remember, if it’s a Pils it’d rather be from Pilsen.

Ashish Jasuja

Navin Mittal – Co-partner, Gateway Brewing Company

Name : Navin Mittal

Designation : Co-partner

Corporation : Gateway Brewing Company

I’m sitting with Navin at the Starbucks located right behind the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai.

One thing you’d like to change about the Indian market:

From a consumer perspective, at least the import duty structure, so that a lot more varieties and brands can be imported. Obviously that will come at at cost to the local industry, so we need to weigh benefits and disadvantages. The benefits are of course, that the consumer will have more choice. If the consumer has more choice, there’s also more competition for the local producers, and we can expect more variety of beers which are flavourful and have character. The duties especially in Maharashtra are very very high. I wish that would change. From a micro brewer or small brewer perspective, I wish the policy was such that it would encourage people like us to set up small units. We are an SSI (small scale industry), but our cost structures are high and disparate compared to those for a large brewery.  Also, we can only sell in kegs and not in bottles. Whether we make money or whether we survive after 2 to 3 years, is all up in the air. If the government is preaching Make in India then they should help us make good beer also.

Who do you think sets drinking trends in India?

Most of the large commercial breweries set the trends. Say UB (United Breweries) with an Oktoberfest, will pull crowds and get mind share. Specialised whisky, wine or beer players operate in a very small segment, they are not in any position to set trends.

Navin Mittal
Navin Mittal

What according to you is the most overrated drinking fad / drink in India at the moment?

I don’t think there is anything which is over rated. It’s how you perceive things at a particular point in time. You might even think that wine, craft beer, single malt are all fads at different points of time.

I do think that what should not happen is that people guzzle on cheap booze, and get drunk and fall down. Instead of that, the message should focus on responsible drinking. “Drink something which tastes better. ” Because of internet there is increased exposure towards craft beer, good wine, good whisky and a lot more people are getting exposed.

What’s the next big thing for India?

Make in India – Indians can make great beverages – why should we think that something which is overseas is the best. Look at the Japanese and the whisky they are making. Look at IPA, a beer made for India, which India has forgotten.

Which is your favourite beverage brand ad campaign?

There are some beer ads I like, although I don’t remember which brands. I also like what Sam Adams does online in terms of  its content.

Which is your favourite Bar in India and why?

Woodside Inn in Colaba is a great bar for a beer drinker and the Harbour Bar at the Taj Mahal hotel is a great bar for the occasional visit.

One fictional character that you’d like to share a drink with?

Iron Man! – I’m a superhero fan. I’d love to sit down with him and drink some concoction which possibly gets some Adamantium into my body. I’d love to sit down with the Avengers and have a drink with them

If you were stranded alone on a deserted island, what’s the one drink that you’d long for?

Any lager which is not watered down, or an ale, which is light but flavourful. For the evening a cocktail like the White Russian, but made with coconut milk not cream.

Beervana – Craft beer in Mumbai

Gateway at Bonobo

2nd Floor, Kenilworth Mall, Phase 2,
Off Linking Road, 33rd Road, Bandra West,
Mumbai
022 2605 5050

Don’t go by appearances. The roads dug up and a mess, the hawkers are teeming around, and next to the Bonobo sign on the rooftop is the outline of a water tank and a satellite dish. Certainly not the best omens for a rocking bar to visit. 2 flights up, however the situation is transformed, and you get an open, buzzing rooftop, with a long bar down one side, and seating scattered around under the stars, with a “party hard” soundtrack on. Bonobo has been around for a while, and its good to see a bar sustain. They must be doing something right.

And one of the things they’re doing right is the reason we’re here, to taste Gateway’s craft beer. Navin Mittal, the beer geek and co-founder of Gateway Brewing Company, pointed us in the direction of Bonobo, when we asked him for good places in the neighbourhood to buy his beer.

The Gateway 3 headed tap is a prominent fixture on Bonobo’s bar counter, and we see quite a few people with brimming beer glasses in front of them. A taster sized portion of the Doppelgänger, the White Zen and the West Coast IPA (India Pale Ale), help us decide our starting order. A pint of the Doppelganger for me to start with and the White Zen for Sweta, with some bite sized snacks to accompany.

I love the full bodied taste of the Doppelgänger, which is inspired from a classic German dunkelweizen (dark wheat) and this is definitely a beer which I could have 2 to 3 of in the course of an evening. The White Zen is a play on the German word Hefeweizen, which is their classic style of wheat beer. Regular wheat beer and dark wheat beer have worked very well as styles for imported bottle beers and are a smart choice for Gateway’s first brews. Gateway’s third beer is a West Coast IPA (India Pale Ale), a rare category of beer which owes it’s parentage to India.

Back in the days, when Great Britain held sway over India, the Britishers in India needed their beer, and regular beer shipped over from the UK, lost its zing on the 12,000 mile sea journey over. So the then beer geeks came up with the India Pale Ale, which was brewed with higher gravities and hops content (Hops are plants whose cones add aroma and flavour to beer; and in the case of IPA, protect it from infection.). In fact a Britisher called Pete Brown, recreated the sea journey taken by the original IPA and compared it with a batch which was flown over to see if the sea beer passed muster.

Back to the West Coast IPA, which owes its origins to the USA where the West Coast IPA is a well recognized style. I find the beer a little on the bitter side, but I’m willing to give it another chance the next time I’m back. I recommend it to a visiting friend from Delhi, who loves his IPA, and he pronounced it as “the highlight of his Mumbai trip”.

My colleague, Sweta on the other hand loves her White Zen, and follows it up with a Doppelgänger.

In conversation the next day with Navin, he reveals that they plan to introduce 1 to 2 new styles shortly, so a Porter or Stout could be on the way, and it would replace one of the 3 beers on tap. Loyal fans of the displaced beer will have to wait till it’s back on tap, and in the craft beer industry, sometime creating this scarcity, is a great marketing ploy for brands.

Marketing ploys are however the last thing on our mind, as the last sip of my IPA goes down my grateful gullet. Gateway has forged a difficult path on its way to being India’s first microbrewery, which doesn’t have it’s own bar, but instead supplies it on tap to bars across Mumbai. Search them out when next in Mumbai, you won’t be disappointed.

Gateway Co-founders
Gateway’s co-founders, from left to right, Rahul Mehra, Krishan Naik and Navin Mittal

SABMiller India launches Miller ACE

India Hospitality Review: 17th September 2014

SABMiller India, the Indian arm of the global brewing giant SABMiller plc., has launched Miller ACE above its milder variant Miller High Life. Miller ACE comes with a bolder taste and a higher ABV (alcohol by volume). With this launch SABMiller India forays further into the fast growing premium beer segment and will address the increasing consumer demand for world class quality premium beers in India.

William Grant & Sons acquires Drambuie

Drinks International: September 8th 2014

William Grant & Sons has announced the acquisition of the Drambuie Liqueur Company.

The family-owned company says Drambuie – a blend of aged scotch whisky, spices and heather honey – is a natural addition to its portfolio of premium brands including Glenfiddich and The Balvenie single malt scotch whiskies.

William Grant & Sons’ chief executive, Stella David said: “We have a passion and a reputation for nurturing and building brands. Drambuie has a very rich history and a great story to tell and we are delighted to be in a position to start to re-engage with existing drinkers and to connect the brand with an entirely new generation of consumers.”

‘Food Babe’ wins battle with King of Beers

Financial Times – June  13,  2014

She is the self-styled “Food Babe” who has taken on some of the best-known names in the food industry, forcing the likes of Kraft and Subway to remove unhealthy ingredients from their products. Now Vani Hari, an American blogger, has chalked up a victory against two of the world’s biggest brewers.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Budweiser, and SABMiller, which brews Coors and Miller, have agreed to publish the ingredients in their beers, after Ms Hari launched an online petition on her website earlier this week.

Beervana – The Taste of India – by Snoooze Mode Barney!

Tulleeho’s intrepid researcher tastes 5 Indian Beers.

How many genres of film can you name? Go ahead…Thrillers, Comedy, Musical ummm… Action maybe..and there are many more categories with names as complex as post modernist, neoclassical and several others.

Now imagine for one little moment that the earth is rattled and all that’s left in our consciousness is one and only just one genre. How boring it would be. No cinemas. No variety in emotion. No colour. Listlessness would prevail. Well the situation of beer in India is really much like the “single-genre” film world. All we got is Pilsners! Now I know it isn’t exactly that bad. We’re talking of beer here – Less variety, more variety, who really cares? But what about the predicament of someone who has to sit down and painstakingly taste these similar varieties and come back with their tasting notes – each different and unique. The pleasure of this predicament is mine and I’m going to try and do a good job of it.

The beers I tasted are the usual suspects – the ubiquitous Kingfisher, the international Fosters, the dying London Pilsner, the whiskey-sounding Royal Challenge and the latest kid on the block Cobra.

Color: All the beers are in the straw to golden colour range. Nothing really much between them. If you do have Dr. Watson’s magnifying glass you might say Fosters and Cobra are slightly darker than the other suspects. LP, Kingfisher and RC are slightly paler, more yellow and straw-like in colour comparatively speaking. But this is only just slightly and only if you’ve got superior eyesight such as mine.

Carbonation & Head Formation: The Kingfisher and the RC do a good job as “fizzies.” The head stays for long enough for you to request a song on the juke box and slowly trudge back to find the pretty white blanket lingering about the top of the glass. The Cobra is good enough to be third noticeably the bubble size (like the Fosters) is slightly bigger than the others. The heads of the Fosters and London Pilsner especially the latter prove great at the disappearing act. The carbonation too appears to be in the following descending order Kingfisher, RC, Cobra, Fosters and London Pilsner.

Mouth feel: Very little really to differentiate. However Fosters and Cobra have slightly heavier bodies. Again this is to a very minute degree.

Aroma: The London Pilsner lets out a pungent, sharp yeasty aroma. It is best to not try and sniff at it. You might even get the aroma of a barnyard on close inspection. The Kingfisher has a hoppy and almost piney sort of an aroma. Also you might sense the warmth of the alcohol in the aroma. The Cobra aroma is a lot less intense and at the same time its balanced. You don’t need to cringe while drawing a deep breath over a glass of Cobra. Hints of fruitiness also emanate. Fosters has an almost estery/sour aroma with strong hints of yeast. You may just also register the aroma of red wine perhaps.

Flavor: All the beers seem to balance maltiness with the bitterness of the hops. London Pilsener is watery bland for the first second or two and then its slightly sour (like vinegar) and then lots of hoppy flavour. The aftertaste has a hint of a medicine like/ phenolic taste and thankfully dissipates quickly. The Kingfisher has a mild maltiness with sour/estery notes in between (sour notes are in the beginning only). There are hints of a piney/wooden flavour. Then follows a long, hoppy, bitter but pleasant finish. Cobra is more full flavoured than the other beers. It does exercise your taste buds. You may also sense smoky notes in the middle. The bitterness grows slowly and finishes with hints of bittersweet fruits (pear perhaps). The finish is typically long. Lastly the Fosters left me baffled. Its quite full flavoured not so much as the Cobra but more than the Kingfisher. A fine balance between the malts and the hops. But there are hints of burnt toast and a medicine like sourness. Its difficult to put into perspective but if you will taste any other beer in conjunction with a Fosters you will know what I’m talking about.

I don’t wish to hurt the sentiments of any serious beer brand drinkers with my thoughts above. Any violent reactions to my opinions are pointless. Taste is subjective – go exercise your taste buds and you shall know. Anyways, I always believe in what some great drunk slob had muttered after a beer too many – “The best beer is the bottle in your hand”. Right on, mate. Right on.

Ashish Jasuja