Cheers to Goa: The Frothy Tale of Beer in India
Imagine sipping on a chilled beer under the sun-kissed beaches of Goa, with the gentle sound of waves in the background. Ah, bliss! But have you ever wondered about the fascinating history of beer in India? Let's take a journey through time and hops to uncover the frothy tale of beer in the land of spices.
Ancient Brews and British Blues
Beer isn't new to India; in fact, it's been around for thousands of years. Back in 1500 BC, our ancestors were brewing up a storm with fermented barley and rice-based concoctions, jazzed up with local fruits and spices. These ancient brews still exist in some nooks and crannies of the country. But hold on, this wasn't the beer we know today, with its malted barley, hops, yeast, and water.
Enter the British. In the late 1700s, they brought their ales to India. You might be wondering why they didn't just brew beer in India. Well, it turns out that the Indian climate wasn't very beer-friendly, and the journey from England to India took a whopping six months, complete with two equator crossings. A brewer's nightmare, right?
IPA: India Pale Ale Takes the Stage
The British craved their Pale Ales and Porters while in India. However, the long journey took a toll on the beer, leading to the birth of a new star – the India Pale Ale, or IPA. This beer had higher alcohol content and a distinctive hoppy profile, and it quickly became an icon.Sadly, the IPA's fate was sealed long before the British departed. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, opium, brandy, claret, whisky, and gin started to overshadow beer. When the British bid adieu to India, the IPA followed suit. The brewing scene in India then shifted towards pilsners and lagers, leading to the rise of companies like Mohan Meakin and United Breweries.
From Lagers to Strong Lagers
Local breweries began popping up all over India, resulting in a wide array of lager variants and strong lagers. These strong lagers, with their 6-8% ABV (alcohol by volume), offered a mix of malted barley and adjuncts. The result? Sweet, malty notes with a whiff of alcohol and, sometimes, a dash of harsh bitterness. These beers became Indian favourites, known for their bang for the buck.
The Pub Culture Emerges
Fast forward to the early 80s, when United Breweries introduced the concept of draught beer in Bangalore. This marked the beginning of India's pub culture. By the early 90s, Bangalore was crowned the 'Pub Capital of India,' and the rest of the country soon followed suit.
Indian palates have a soft spot for sweetness over bitterness. Unlike European lagers, our brews tend to be sweeter with lower IBU (International Bitterness Units) scores. It's a sweet affair for our taste buds!
Beer Stats and Beyond
Now, here's a head-scratcher. India boasts a population of 1.3 billion, but our per capita annual beer consumption is a mere 2.6 litres per person per year. In comparison, China guzzles down around 50 litres per person per year. Are we missing out on the beer party?
Goa: A Hub for Brewers
When it comes to beer, Goa is making waves of its own. Alongside its culinary delights, this coastal paradise has become an alco-beverage hotspot. Picture hipster bars, craft beer taprooms, local gins, and rums – Goa has it all. With a slew of breweries setting up shop in this picturesque state and brewing their way to glory, Goa is now the epicentre of beer renaissance in India.
So, the next time you raise a glass of your favourite brew in Goa, remember that you're not just toasting to a fantastic vacation; you're also celebrating the rich history and evolving landscape of beer in India. Cheers to that!