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.
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. [/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.
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.