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World Beers: India

For thousands of years, beer made from rice or millet was part of everyday Indian life. Indeed, a beer-like drink called ‘sura’ was said to be the favourite drink of the god Indra.

However, it was the arrival of the British that changed the face of brewing in India, demand from soldiers stationed there prompting first the importation of pale and Burton ales from the UK, then the invention of Indian pale ale and finally, establishment of breweries across the Indian sub-continent.Nowadays most of the big brewers have a presence in India, not least because imported beers can attract duties of up to 100%. Here are the top sellers to serve with Indian cuisine…

Tiger

Not strictly an Indian beer – as it originates from 1930s Singapore – nevertheless, Tiger beer is a popular accompaniment to every kind of spicy and fragrant Indian dish. Full bodied, 4.8% ABV with a malty character and crisp finish, Tiger beer is the product of a 500-hour brewing process that makes it, to many, the definitive Asian lager.

True Maharaja

Despite being brewed and bottled in Yorkshire, this 4% spiced craft beer has been especially designed to accompany Asian cuisine. Warm light amber in colour with a creamy white head, True Maharaja’s ingredients include the finest Maris Otter Malt and cardamom pods. These help the beer give the palate a short, refreshing explosion of lemon and ginger, which makes for easier appreciation of the food.

 

Bira 91

Launched in 2015 and already the best selling premium beer in many Indian city bars, the Bira 91 nomenclature refers to India’s country code, and the brand markets itself as trendy, unorthodox, fun and smart. Choose between Bira 91 White – a low bitterness wheat beer; Blonde – an extra hoppy craft lager; strong; low calorie light and Bira 91 IPA.

King Cobra

The world’s first double fermented Pilsner-style lager; this 7.5% beer is brewed in Belgium, with secondary fermentation in the bottle, following a process usually reserved for Trappist ales. King Cobra’s smooth, sophisticated taste is perfect for Indian foods, and the 750ml champagne style bottle size means it’s great for sharing.

Kingfisher

India’s most recognised and widely available beer, with a market share of around 40%. Brewed to a recipe that’s remained the same for over 150 years, this is a light tasting, easy drinking 4.8% lager with plenty of malt.

Cobra

A multiple gold medal winning premium lager, that’s vegetarian society and kosher approved too. Brewed from a blend of barley malt, yeast maize, hops and rice, this beer is double filtered, 4.8% ABV and marketed as the less gassy complement to Indian cuisine. There’s a Cobra Zero beer too.

Why not offer?

Indian pale ales are classic companions to Indian cuisine. And if you want to be different, Pimm’s No. 1 with lemonade, cucumber, strawberries, mint and ice goes brilliantly!

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