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Come October, I MUST send out a little something about beers. I also always mention that I know Oktoberfest happens in September. But hey, that's not going to stop me sending out an October newsletter that mentions beers, is it? And then, I was wondering if I should talk about Indian breweries/branda (apart from all that home brewing we can do) this time around, instead of the international brewery content and absurd beers content I sent out last year. In other talk, that there are numerous songs in Indian cinema around Indian alcohol is alarming (oh well, that there is nonsense about the non-Indian varieties is a given anyway).
Beer brewing has picked up over the past few years in India, no doubt. This post I'd written in 2016 when I was in Bangalore has a mention of 16 breweries in the city then! Heavens forbid, I shudder to think of how many there are now! Every major city, now, has at least 15 breweries - might I add not all are good. However, Goa Brewing Co. bottles some very good beers - the Eight Finger Eddie is a personal favourite and they have some mighty interesting small-batch seasonal brews.

Did you know Danny Dengzongpa has a brewery? Or rather, has had since the late eighties. I haven't had any of the brews from there. So I don't have a stand. But but... A Bengali friend (he was in Kolkata, visiting his parents last year) made a very random trip to Bhutan last year (okay, the winter of 2018) and then did a CCU to HYD shipment of Red Rice Lager. It was interesting. Not bad by any measure. Interesting. Anyway, we've had our fair share of Cobras and Haywards' and Kalyani Black Labels when we were younger, I'm sure.
The Drops in Indiranagar in Bangalore (and even High Notes on 100 ft Rd) had a decent selection of (albeit) Belgian beers back in 2013-14. And then the race of the breweries began. I might not be someone who can smell notes and give flavours hints and stuff when it comes to beers, but when I have three beers and I feel like shit the following morning, I know I'm not going back to that brewery (unless I absolutely HAVE to out of sheer politeness).  I've had 5 good beers and woken up with a hangover, yes, but definitely not woken up feeling sick. 

Geist was one of the first good beers that I had had when I was in Bangalore. And it makes me immensely happy to mentioned that Geist has its own brewery in Bangalore now - dine-in and all. Do take a look at more details on their Twitter page!

 
I've only started enjoying gins since a half decade or so now. Call it me being faux-posh, but I've never had a Blue Riband. There's been a handful of the better know ones - Bombay Sapphire and Gordon's, Tanqueray and Tanqueray No. 10, Beefeater and The Botanist... and the newer craft gins made in India - Stranger & Sons, Greater Than, Hapusa... personally like Hapusa of the lot. But then, to each his own, I guess. And there are a half dozen more I hear. Also, most of these are made in small batches and aren't available in several states. So then, that's that. Besides, let me just leave it out here - there's a craft gin club and they have a 101 on how you can make your own gin, at home.

But but... the more I've been reading, the more attractive Jaisalmer and Terai sound. We've been seeing how we can get our hands on a bottle these past few days. But no luck. Can anyone help? Pretty please?


Did you know Hendricks' bottles say 1886 which is the year the parent whisky (Grants) was made and that Hendricks Gin was officially sold only 2000 onwards?
Think craft gins the next obvious thought is craft whiskeys. Also, did you know that the Japanese are running out of brewed whisky? It's very easy to blame the rise in faux-enthusiasts these days, of course. That makers in Japan had not anticipated this boom is a no-brainer then. And that things will be in a better state as far as Japanese whisky goes 15 years from now is something we can definitely hope for.

I'm not a whisky drinker. But my husband is quite a snob when it comes to drinking whiskeys. He says he spent his years in college drinking some pretty nasty stuff, so if he can afford the good stuff now, it's okay to go overboard.

Rampur, Amrut, Paul John - whiskeys - again VERY selectively available - all of which I've heard some very good things about... The Amrut peated variety has some insane fan following, I am told. Something I learnt rather late in my several years of drinking - the difference between whiskey and whisky The same as color vs colour, sigh.
I've also read about whisky aged in rum barrels. No brainer, then, that I should talk a little about rums at this point. I think rum and I think Old Monk. I've had Khoday's XXX (and made one of those I-quite-regret-this mistakes because I got too drunk). That and reading about Khukri Rum from Nepal made me dig a little deeper into the whole XXX thing behind rums. The number of "X"s represented the amount of duty paid, with "XXX" being the highest. The duty-due was judged on the alcoholic strength of the liquor and so strong drinks like rum would have attracted the highest taxation, hence the barrels would have been branded with three crosses using a hot iron. How cool is that! Of course, the XXX is more of a printing thing now and not so much of a 'branding' thing, but knowing that that's how it started is pretty amazing!

Oh, by the way, Briggs Brewery in Bangalore uses the Khoday's premises (and some choice grains, malt, yeast and hops, even if internationally sourced) to brew beer.

There are spiced rums - Captain Morgan, anyone? But hey! You can buy some el-cheapo Bacardi white and make some spiced rum yourself! Maybe?

Other than that there's Cabo (a coconut liqueur actually and Goa's answer to Malibu rum) and Wild Tiger (I'm not too sure I like the bottle design, however well-intentioned it may have been).
My grandfather was quite the drinks-and-smoke enthusiast when I was a kid. I've grown up with fortnightly parties at my house, my grandfather smoking the choicest cigars and whipping up cocktails for the guests. One of the other fun things he let me in on was tasting liqueurs. Of course, I was only allowed a teeny tiny little sip. All Indian makes. Very very regional. And very very delicious. Pan liqueur. Chocolate liqueur. Cardamom liqueur. What not. And, of course, after having come of legal drinking age, I've enjoyed my Baileys, Amarettos and Amarulas (okay, a lot more than these three, just saying). Desmondji's in Goa makes a good orange liqueur, I hear (and also a pretty damn good tequila!) So we've got our very own Cointreau too then, I say! On that note, is feni a liqueur?

I've heard of interesting Indian liqueurs made mostly for the winter months and made mostly with spices - but I'm unable to find a link. But but, I did find a link for a liqueur called somrus (wtf, maybe? and yes, not somras from what we know of the Indo-Aryan 'nectar of the Gods') - Indian Cream Liqueur. Sigh.

Even if there isn't anything helpful I can give you for a list of liqueurs made in India, I can give you a list for a handful of regional brews - grain fermented naturally - mostly in hilly areas (presumably to keep oneself warm when it gets cold). They're an acquired taste, no doubt.
It'd be silly of me to not mention wines in India - vineyards in and around Nashik being all too common. The Sula story is definitely something I like. The founder mentions that the brand is named after his mother - Sulabha.

I'm quite a fan of La Reserve from Grover. Brands like Krsma (vineyards in Hampi), Myra (I'm married to a semi Malayali. I can't help but snigger), Fratelli (this one I haven't quite liked) and Charosa (sounds more like some part of a Harry Potter spell, if you ask me) are also picking up now, in India. And of course, there's port wine. I think port wine has its fan following and its haters in equal number. Me? I'm in the latter group. Heh.

And for anybody and everybody who likes to talk about 'honey beer' or 'oh, it's like a sweet wine,' there's mead. And the folks at Moonshine Meadery. Of course, I might be a little partial. Because I've known Rohan (one of the co-founders) from when he used to brew in 25-litre batches in his home-kitchen. Hehe. They've been doing small batches and coming up with some very interesting flavours (and also undergone THREE logo changes in the past half decade or so, shrug) - guava chilli, bourbon oaked apple, mango, garlic, coffee, and what not! But hey, it's as Indian as Indian gets! And I hear they've also been working with lesser-known bee-keepers and monofloral honeys (and not out-and-out commercial fare).
There's so many more nuggets of random information around alcohol that I've been reading and asking quizzer-supreme-co-habitant but if I can't get myself to read anything more than possibly a thousand words it's unfair of me to expect others to read long newsletter, yeah? With that, here are my book recommendations. They aren't quite for Indian liquors is not something I can help, really. But here they are anyway. And I really hope you like them.
Going to Delirium Cafe has always been one of my must-do things when I'm in Brussels. I've only been there thrice and my last time was about 6 years ago. So, I'm sure it's changed heaps since then (or maybe not at all)!

They have a menu on sale at the cafe which has a list of all the beers they have on sale (bottled, on tap, everything). I have the 2011-12 menu. And I'd urge you to take a look at this.Well, it's not a book in the truest sense of the word, but it sure is a recommendation! :D
We've ordered this book on a whim. Let's hope we like it.

From the book's description on Amazon
"... full-bodied and rich history of Britain and the Empire, told through the improbable but true stories of how the world’s favorite alcoholic drinks came to be."

Not too much that can go wrong, eh?
I just *may* have ordered an alcohol-related book for my husband. Our wedding anniversary is next month. But there's no telling, you guys might snitch on me! *peers with IMMENSE mistrust*

That said, please don't think the pandemic is over! I know things have relaxed a fair bunch! But it's each individual's responsibility to stay safe (and, thereby, also keep others safe)!

Until next time, nom nom!
- Meha

 
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And here is some interesting reading around sustainability that showed up in my inbox or my several hundred internet tabs last month - 
 
  1. There's sustainable alcohol, y'know...
  2. And sustainable beef.
  3. On the one hand, there's mylk. On the other, there's this.
  4. The 2020 Global Hunger Index.
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