Sorry for the delay, It took some time to find Indian beer believe it or not. In this country, dominated by Hindus and a minority of Muslims, beer, and any liquor for that matter, is a difficult thing to find. Still, I’m an intrepid beer explorer, and even here, in the Pink City of Jaipur in Rajasthan, I have found beer.
I just want to reassure all of you that I am safe. Many have inquired about my safety here in India, and I am among friends in a country that loves Americans very much.
After the terrorist activity in Mumbai, my sister and I canceled our trip there. We were supposed to stay in the Taj Hotel, the very epicenter of India’s 9/11.
Instead, we went hiking in the hills above Jaipur, to the ruins of the old Nahargharh Fort that stands above the city like a sentinel still waiting for some approaching army.
In the cool of a shaded courtyard, I saw a uniformed waiter serving beer in amber bottles. Without asking which we would like, he poured us a Royal Challenge Premium Lager. It was crisp and cold, a perfect thirst quencher on a warm Indian fall day.
We drank it quickly with vegetables fried in chickpea flour, another great beer snack I found.
After looking around again and realizing that everyone was drinking from bottles with a red label, we called our waiter back to our table and inquired about the difference. “Oh, you wouldn’t want this beer, it is a strong beer.” I was offended, and nearly stood up to voice my displeasure at his arrogance, but my good friend stayed my impetuousness and told the man to, “just bring the beer, man.”
At eight-percent ABV, the Godfather 10,000+ Premium Strong Lager was delightful. It added the heady experience to a relaxing chat after a long and arduous day of shopping in the bazaars of Jaipur. Both beers were light-colored lagers with a lot of barley flavor. The malt was evident, but not too forward as in continental European beers. Indian lagers seem to have more in relation to Canada’s famed strong lagers than any other country I’ve so far visited.
I’ve still to try Kingfisher beer, one of India’s favorites, and I’m on the prowl for other interesting beers from this big and loveable country.
It’s 5 a.m., and I’m in Frankfurt, in the heart of the one of the most dedicated beer countries on earth. I see a guy drinking a huge stein of something pilsnery looking, and I’m conflicted. I’ve just flown from Denver to Frankfurt, and I’m about to board a Boeing 747 to fly over who-knows-how-many war zones on the way to India. I need to sleep, but should I pass up having a beer in Germany. Every beer lover should do that given the chance.
Ah, the good thing for me is that I have a longer layover in Frankfurt on my return flight. I think I shall delight in a Germanic brew upon my return and save my taste buds for whatever India can throw at me.
Next post from India!
I’ve had the great privilege of visiting many of the renowned brewing states that can truly say they fathered a certain style of beer. Perhaps no other place is so romantically connected to beer as India.
The men and women of the East India Company whose thirst for a tasty brew lead to the creation of the India Pale Ale are forever to be thanked for their contribution to the pantheon of beers.
In two days I’ll be in India looking at the roots of IPA. Well, I’m not really going just for the IPA, though that would be really cool. I’m actually teaching journalism at a school in the city of Jaipur. But you can be sure I’m going to have a look around at what constitutes the beer scene in Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai.
To find a legendary IPA as produced in Britain for the long transit to the subcontinent would be the fullfillment of a dream.
At any rate, I’ll be out of the office for the next two weeks. I’m going to post as often as I can, but do understand if I miss a day or two in between, and keep checking back for updates.
We beer lovers can get to feeling pretty bad about our situation here in Montana, so it is good to sometimes walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, or, maybe, drink a beer in their state.
This little reminder from an Alabama reader brings the point home:
“antiquated beer laws”…Well, you don’t know how bad they can be…I’m in Alabama with a 6% cap on alcohol by volume (I’d love at least a 8.75% cap) and a limitation on bottle size of 16 oz. – so no bombers, no growlers, no 750 mls… Plus if you want to have a brewpub, you have to operate in a Nationally Historical Registered Building and are not allow to bottle your beer, but if you want to bottle your beer, you can but can’t serve any on-site plus the 6% cap is inforced…and of course, home-brewing is illegal, too. One bright spot…you can buy fortified wine and low gravity beer in the grocery store on Sunday and you can make your own wine! If you want to know all the details of Alabama citizen’s efforts to get their laws changed, then visit http://www.FreeTheHops.ORG … and if you feel very sorry for us living in Alabama, we will be happy to let you join our “Alabamians For Specialty Beer” cause and get a T-shirt for $25!
Thanks for the reminder -
Probably not, so I’ll just post the picture of me shooting digital HD at Glacier Brewing Co. Look for the upcoming story in Missoula.Com magazine.
Shot by the great Michael Gallacher.
I recently got word that Topper’s Cellar in Helena was raided, and high-gravity beers were pulled from the shelves.
I spoke briefly with the owner, who only said that the store had been raided.
So, I called the Montana Department of Revenue and spoke with Jason Wood, bureau chief for the Liquor Licensing Division.
Here’s what I found out:
There is an investigation that is currently open, though Wood was not inclined to discuss the specifics until the investigation closes.
“The department does have a concern currently with products that are above the legal limit,” Wood said. “Beer can’t exceed 7 percent by by weight, and we’ve been seeing some beers in the 9-percent range.”
Most beers are marked with alcohol by volume, ABV, on their labels, and the legal limit in Montana for ABV is 8.75 percent.
Wood was kind enough to walk me through the history of that particular statute, which was made law in 1933.
“It hasn’t been amended since 1947,” Wood said.
Wood also declined to mention where the complaints about the high-alcohol beer came from, though several people familiar with the bureau’s process have said that certain tavern owners upset about what some brewers are calling rogue brewers have raised complaints against specific stores and breweries lately.
“This started out as what we thought was a really small thing,” Woods said of high-gravity beer sales in Montana. “But it has really snowballed.”
From me to you: If you enjoy a strong beer now and again, you might want to stock up on a few of your favorites. Sounds like you won’t be the only one perusing the aisles of your favorite beer store soon.
And as I’ve said, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Making people aware of Montana’s antiquated beer laws will help put the pressure on lawmakers to update them and help boost this state’s economy with beer tourism dollars.
Occasionally I come across a good article about beer. Usually these are found in some beer-themed magazine or publication, and they are about as widely read as this blog. Just kidding, some beer publications are very well read.
When my friend Cory sent me this link, to this very fine article, which you can also find here, I was astounded that craft beer has made it to the intellectual elite. A New Yorker article on craft beer, how about that?
The only thing that might anger some beer snobs is the fact that the article centers around Dogfish Head Brewing Co. But if you’re open minded, and if you’re willing to concede that we’ve only just begun to discover beer’s awesome potential, the article is well worth a read, even if you aren’t a fan of Sam Calagione’s concoctions.
I know this video isn’t really beer related, but in the spirit of trying to become more aware of locally produced foods, as well as beer, I’d post it for your enjoyment. Besides, the song in the video is addicting to some degree. Try not singing it at lunch today after you’ve watched this clip.
Olde Blue Hair Barley Wine is on tap at Big Sky Brewing Co., according to the brewery’s latest newsletter. That means that it is barley wine time again.
Perhaps one of my favorite seasonal beers, barley wine is about as good as it gets as an aperitif on turkey day or for something to poor in celebration when your team wins whatever championship it is playing for.
Beer has been made from hops grown along fences at Big Sky Brewing Co., and Kettlehouse Brewing Co. makes beers with Montana-grown barley. The water is already local, and most breweries use a proprietary yeast that is distinctly theirs.
So the idea of estate-grown beers, like their wine counterparts, is not all that far fetched.
In fact, Rogue Brewing Co., in Newport, Oregon, is planting winter and spring barley in fields on the east-side of Mount Hood to use when brewing their Sesquicentennial Ale to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Oregon’s statehood. Read the whole story here.
Here in Montana, the opportunity to brew all local beers is actually much easier. Already one of the largest barley producers around, the state has exceptional water, and hops grow well in and around Missoula and other areas in the state.
Blackfoot River Brewing Co. puts out an exceptional single-malt IPA, further proving that beer made with local or specialized ingredients from a single terroir are becoming as popular in the craft beer world.