Hops, I did it again

Updated: Aug 04, 2019, 08:59 IST | prutha bhosle |

A limited release of IPA and a stout by Bira 91 make for a light, crisp and sessionable affair

The Bira 91 Stout
The Bira 91 Stout

From treating craft beer as an exotic order a few years ago, to now being home to over 200 microbreweries, India has come a long way. The consumer is educated, and the industry now spoils us for choice. Bira 91 recently launched a limited release beer in cans, pints and pour: a pomelo-brewed IPA in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. In another two weeks, it will be joined by a stout brewed with cold brew coffee.

We are privy to a tasting with founder Ankur Jain and newly appointed vice president (innovations and brewing) Thomas Hartman. The IPA has a clear, orangish colour with a fresh nose of pomelo fruit. On the palate, it is light, crisp with a citrusy invitation that ends in a lingering, mild bitter aftertaste. For the IPA, two hot-selling American varieties of Hops—flowers of the hop plant Humulus lupulus that work as bittering, flavouring, and stability agent in beer—Citra and Mozaic have been used to make the beer, which adds notes of mango, pineapple and tangerine. The specialty malt adds an orangish colour and a toasty note. "Usually an IPA is 6-7 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) but this one is 4.5 per cent. We wanted it to be light and flavour-forward so that customers can enjoy a couple of rounds without getting too tipsy."

The pomelo-spiked IPA is light, crisp  and citrusy with a bitter aftertaste
The pomelo-spiked IPA is light, crisp and citrusy with a bitter aftertaste

While it is not the first tasting of the day for Hartman, he is delighted to discover new layers every time he tastes the chilled beer. For the stout, the team collaborated with Blue Tokai that made a special batch of cold brew using coffee sourced from the Malabar region. While most coffee stouts tend to be a little heavy on the palate, and pack in a punch of acidic coffee, this one is sessionable. We could rather be sipping on a cold brew if not for the aftertaste of hops. "We blended in the coffee just before packaging. This ensures it is not overpowering. Some methods add beans while boiling, but that can make the end result harsh."

In the coming months, they will open their fourth brewery in Mysore, and there is a mini brewery lab for Thomas to try more concoctions. On his mind is kokum. The two limited releases, (R160 per pint and R200 per bottle in Mumbai) will be brewed in small batches once a month. "We never want to be fully in stock," Ankur signs off.

Available at The Beer Café, The Irish House, Hakkasan, London Taxi, Bombay Gymkhana and Townhall. It is also available at select wine shops in the city.

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