Bottoms up! A good head for craft beer
We're all familiar with connoisseur-speak when it comes to cuisines of the world, bespoke fashion, lifestyle and art. When it comes to alcohol, the expert talk is either among the wine-swirling cognoscenti or the Scotch-toasting epicureans. But that's about to change.
And I say this with some pride: beer appreciation is the next major thing for us to be making brazen discourses of. Fortunately, it's not likely to sound too studious and tiresome. There's no two-ways about it – if it's a great beer, that's exactly what it is!
As a Certified Cicerone® myself, I firmly believe that you don't need to be a certified expert to enjoy a fine brew, or for that matter, to distinguish a pale ale from stout. Or to tell what eats work well for an afternoon out with friends and six-packs.
In its elements, beer is as natural as it gets – combining water, malt, hops and yeast. What is tricky is the art of its tasting, as beer is not normally associated with exaggerated lingering, and deliberated acts of degustation.
We all know beer for its sophomoric customs – you glug, belch, relieve yourself and get right back to it. (Tub thumping, anyone?) So it might seem a wee but awkward when I begin telling you about aspects of aroma, mouth-feel and aftertaste, when it comes to enjoying a beer.
Clearly, there's a lot more going on in the world of beer!
Since the first ones opened in the early-2010s, the micro- and craft brewery concept has finally boomed in India. In 2016, Bira and White Rhino opened their own units in Indore and Gwalior respectively, giving us two of our own 'Make in India' craft breweries.
While artisanal brewing has existed in Europe for many centuries, estimates claim that there are over 10,000 craft breweries in the world today. The majority of these are in the USA (around 4,300). India isn’t even on the map, with just about 50 craft breweries across the country. But there are more opening every other day. Our per capita consumption is low, at around 4 litres, but it is growing fast.
With an anticipated growth of up to `20,000 crore by 2020, the craft beer scene is fast catching on, and certainly here to stay. It's up to us to learn how to appreciate it, and enjoy it responsibly. Then again, that's probably why you need a certified expert!
George Jacob is a brewing consultant, certified in Craft Beer by Brewers Association, a Cicerone® certified Beer Server, and a Certified Beer Steward by the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, London.