It's ale and hearty

Updated: Jul 28, 2020, 11:31 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

No clue what a growler is? We sampled craft beer, now allowed bottling and delivery across the city

Beer being poured from tap into a growler
Beer being poured from tap into a growler

This paper had spoken to stakeholders in the beer industry during the height of the lockdown in mid-April, to understand how they were coping at a time when their perishable stocks were gathering dust in warehouses. A clear narrative that had emerged then is that craft beer manufacturers wanted the state to legalise the sale of growlers. These are certain types of bottles (you can even call them jars) that are in vogue in the West to transport beer on tap from a pub or micro-brewery to a person's home. And the good news is that the authorities have acceded to their request. Breweries can now retail craft beer filled in growlers from gastro-pubs, bars and taprooms in the city. The service isn't available at regular wine shops yet. But even then, we can still look at the mug as half full, instead of half empty.

Two such places from where you can lay your hands on these bottles — which have never been seen in Mumbai before — are the Woodside Inn outposts in Colaba and Andheri. We have a couple from the suburban branch delivered to our building's gate. The first tip is to be careful while handling them. These are stout, bulky, one-litre bottles that fit only into a big palm. Plus, the moisture on the exterior increases the risk of them slipping out of your grip, and the last thing you want to do is break your growler even before you have put it in the fridge.

Beer being poured from tap into a growler

That's the second tip; the beer is meant to be chilled for at least two hours before consumption. But we go a step ahead and leave it overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, we try Great State Aleworks's Hazy Daze first. The black cap that protects the beer cracks open with ease. But then there's a further plastic plug that you have to prise out, and the pop that happens on doing it gives us quite a start, to be honest. That startling sound is followed by the soothing melody of all the embedded fizz being released. It's a healthy sign, and one sip confirms that the brew is as crisp as a currency note that an ATM yields.

The beer itself is a New England IPA, with a palatable bitterness that is characteristic of such concoctions. But being more inclined towards a straight-up lager, we look forward to Gateway Brewing Company's White Zen. This one's a German hefeweizen, where the focus is on the maltiness of wheat, and again, the freshness of the beer is intact. That shows how growlers do the job that they are supposed to. The pandemic had pulled the plug on tap beer. But now, tipplers can again access artisanal brews, in the comfort of their homes. The credit for this should of course go to the breweries and establishments that have made growlers available to Mumbaikars for the first time. But let's also put in a word for the authorities here, who have finally heard the pleas of alcohol manufacturers, and not looked at them merely as participants in a 'sin industry'.

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