If you walked into an Indian restaurant in countries like the UK a decade or more ago, there was a good chance that you would be offered a Kingfisher or Cobra beer. It was almost a thing – spicy Indian curry and Kingfisher beer. A lot has changed in the last decade. India’s beer industry just ‘grew up’. It’s no longer cool to stick with international brews when you’re out pubbing with your buddies. Check out the popularity of brands like Kati Patang, Bira 91, Simba or Lone Wolf and you know that Indian beers have come to the party and how.
A wave of micro-breweries in cities like Bengaluru has changed India’s relationship with beer. The Bira Taproom in Bengaluru is a case in point. This is not just a neighbourhood pub in Koramangala but what Bira 91 likes to call an ‘innovation hub’. The brand uses this as a testing lab of sorts, unleashing new beers – there are at least 15 beers on tap here, for the city’s self-confessed beer snobs to check out. It was these beer nerds who gave the thumbs up for the Mango Lassi ale. The bestsellers from this taproom eventually make it to the rest of the country in bottles.
Brands like Goa Brewing Co. that initially catered to their local micro markets are now going national. It all means that beer aficionados across India have more world class beers to choose from. We round up some of the best homegrown bottled beers you can buy right now.
Stock up on these for the big match weekend:
Eight Finger Eddie from Goa Brewing Co.
This is one of our favourite Indian beers. We first checked this IPA at their brewery in Porvorim. It’s also a beer with a fascinating back story – it pays homage to Yertward Mazamanian, one of Goa’s first hippies and legends in the 1960s (he had only eight fingers and hence the name). This double dry hopped oat cream IPA is dry hopped with three new world hops that lend it a distinctive tropical note. Also check out Peoples Lager from Goa Brewing Co.
White Rhino IPA
Positioned as one of India’s first craft breweries, White Rhino debuted in 2016. A tasteful, balanced and contemporary beer, this pale ale with a 6.3% ABV has a nice citrus kick with a bitter finish. We also dig their Wit – a Belgian style wheat beer that uses Indian rolled wheat with fresh organic coriander seeds.
Bira 91 Malabar Stout
This is one of our favourite beers from the Bira line-up. It’s probably where a cold brew coffee meets a traditional stout. Blended with locally sourced coffee from the Malabar region, this beer evokes nutty flavours of roasted malts and tropical coffee. It’s an easy initiation into the world of stouts; it’s lighter on the palate compared to traditional stouts. If stouts are not your thing, there’s always the evergreen Bira White.
Ready to plunge into the dark side? This is probably one of the best Indian interpretations of a classic Stout. Perfect for anyone who is willing to take on the roasty flavours – a hint of espresso and chocolate. Simba describes this as a Stout with a deep ebony colour and a voluptuous mahogany head. Simba’s Wit beer is another favourite among the brand’s cult following.
Kati Patang Amber Ale
Indian owned and bottled at the Serbhum brewery in Bhutan with Himalayan spring water, this amber coloured beer hits the right notes with its complex flavours and caramel finish. If lagers are your scene, then Kati Patang’s Saffron Lager with subtle notes of saffron and it’s clean and crisp appeal is a must try.
Maka di Honey Ale
This is our favourite from the Maka portfolio from their greenfield brewery in Goa and built on a foundation of malt. It’s hoppy, layered with the lingering essence of wild honey sourced from the Jim Corbett National Park.
Six Fields Blanche
It made a big impression at the Brussels Beer Challenge in 2022. This beer bagged the silver medal in the Dubbelwit / Imperial White category at this annual global beer event. This light coloured Belgian-style beer is smooth, zesty, easy to drink and spiced with orange and coriander.
Lone Wolf Strong
This all-new brand describes it’s strong beer as a brew for brave hearts. It’s low on bitterness with a smooth after-taste. Malted barley, rice flakes, imported hops and yeast come together in this crowd pleaser with a smooth flavour profile and a high ABV (6.5 percent).