Tag Archive: India

Cerana: Bira 91: White (India: Belgian Wit: 5% ABV)

Visual: Dark cloudy lemon juice. Large yellow white bubbled head.

Nose: Orange zest. Lemon cream. Vanilla. Creamy. Quite sweet. Lemon curd.

Body: Lemon curd. Wheaty. Orange zest. Vanilla pods. Peppery. Grapefruit.

Finish: Wheaty bitterness. Sour lemon juice. Peppery. Grapefruit. Dry lemon.

Conclusion: This is the best Indian beer that I tried during my holiday in the north of India! Ok, admittedly that is a low bar to clear considering that the competition has been varied Kingfisher beers and Boom Strong. So, instead of damning it with that faint praise how about we just ask the question, is this any good then?

It is sweet on the nose and fruity, which resulted in me expecting a very Hoegaarden like sweet and heavy wit beer – however what I got was a body that leans more toward a traditional wit with drier lemon and lightly peppery touches. Interesting.

There’s some orange zest, which is not unexpected for a wit, but it goes into light grapefruit notes which is a bit more new hops than I would expect. Nice touch and it takes it a touch tarter and sour at times, refreshing, but always returning to that dry lemon base.

It is very slightly rough edged around the wheaty and peppery notes, but generally pretty decent, if still on the lower half of Belgian style wits. It isn’t bad – and if fact if you are looker for a non lager beer in India this is a pretty inoffensive one. It is just it is nothing special compared to the wide range of awesome wits out there.

Does the job though.

Background: Found this one near the end of the holiday in India, a few days after being violently ill which seemed to be the common tourist event for our group in India. I had been wandering and spotted an alcohol store. As always there were not many local beers, but they did have this from Bira 91, and since it is not part of their Boom line I had hopes it would be more interesting than that, cheaper, more mainstream aimed, line. I had been hoping from something from a brewery I had not tried yet but ah well, ya can’t have everything.

Cerana: Bira 91: Boom: Premium Super Strong (India: Strong Pale Lager: 6-8% ABV)

Visual: Pale banana yellow. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Clear. Rapidly descending large loose white bubbled head.

Nose: Clean. Brown sugar. Vanilla. Custard slices. Malt biscuits. Soft peach.

Body: Smooth. Vanilla toffee and vanilla custard. Slight wet cardboard. Golden syrup. Banana. Palma violets. Peach.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Slight hop character – hop oils and low bitterness. Slight liquorice touch. Wet cardboard. Light chalk. Fluffy popcorn hops.

Conclusion: First non Kingfisher beer of the India trip has been found! And it isssss … fairly nondescript actually. It definitely has more character than Kingfisher by a mile, but that isn’t really saying much.

It is smooth, while being thicker than the average lager and more malt led, but thankfully doesn’t really show any alcohol burn considering the abv. Whatever actual level that abv is.

On the downside there is that slight wet cardboard, slightly muggy hop rough edge that tends to come with the more dull lagers, and it has a slight artificial feeling touch to it despite that lack of alcohol burn. So, imperfect but not overly harsh, just unrefined.

There are hints of palma violets and hop oils that call the German and Czech noble hops styles. Even smaller hints of peach and banana that call to the fruitier American hops. Nothing too well defined, but hints that it is trying for something more than the most standard lager.

Over all nothing stand out bad, but just generally sub average. The slight rough edges and lack of stand out character means that it doesn’t rise to be recommendable – just generally inoffensive.

Not worth hunting down, and considering where I was in India I had to really hunt for non Kingfisher beers not worth that hunt. Sub optimal but not horrible.

A bit meh and hard to find for that meh.

Background: So the full name is Bira 91: Boom: Premium Super Strong Rich and Malty Munich Lager. So, Cerana is the contract brewer, Bira 91 the beer company, boom the sub category for their more mainstream line so the beer name is? I dunno, Munich Lager? Super Strong? Don’t mix up your descriptions and beer names people, it makes things complicated for me! Similarly, while I tend to go for the description the brewers use, Munich Lager can fall under a bunch of categories, – due the beer strength just general Strong Pale Lager seems right as it doesn’t seem to have characteristics of a dopplebock or Imperial Pilsner despite its strength. Life is pain. Also the can lists the strength as 6-8%. Fucking helpful. Anyway, first non Kingfisher beer I found in India, so grabbed it do notes. Simple. Being on holiday I had to use what glassware I could find.

Amrut: Naarangi (India Single Malt Whisky: 50% ABV)

Visual: Deep honeyed gold. Slow thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Sugared oranges. Trifle and brandy cream. Subtle oak. Shortbread. Light bay leaves. Lightly earthy spice. Water adds some vanilla. Tinned tropical fruit. Rose wine.

Body: Dry red wine. Earthy spice. Sugared orange. Shortbread. Dry oak. Water adds treacle. Orange peel. Dry plums. More orange. Rose wine. Vanilla.

Finish; Ovaltine. Dry oak. Dry red wine. Chilli. Tannins. Dry tea bags. Orange peel. Dry plums. Slight trifle. Water brings out turmeric.

Conclusion:This is about as different as you can get from from a whisky – an experiment that could not be done in Scotland and one that brings a very different experience with it.

There are so many different elements in the different moments of this journey – Initially sweet orange mixed with herbal dry notes, it provides a contrast of sweet taste matched by a dry feeling body. Lots of dry red wine notes come out from it, emphasising the spice which seems to be a popular touch in India whisky in my limited experience.

Water makes such a difference in what you get – bringing out vanilla and tinned tropical fruit that calls to more traditional whisky character that you would expect from a bourbon ageing, but still moves out into contrasting dark fruit notes and more dry red wine notes.

More water changes it again to bring out a lighter rose wine character, something that calls to more unusual barrel ageing against the still present sweeter notes. The contrast from sweet aroma into dry spice meets orange aroma now with a good range over the dry backing.

Very different, red wine and spice with great variety around that core. Sweet, warming spice, definitely not the traditional whisky experience while still definitely being whisky, not a liqueur.

Very much worth trying.

Background: This was the second of five whiskies at Independent Spirit‘s Uber whisky tasting. I love those things, a chance to try five whiskies I might not otherwise get to try. Why no first set of notes? The first whiskey I had already done notes on in the past. So, the first set of new notes is this very unusual one from India – a whisky aged in oloroso sherry casks, which had been filled with orange peel packed wine. Not something that would be allowed to be called whisky in Scotland, but in India – experiment away! As always with tastings like this, it was in a social environment so I may have been influenced by people around me and the notes may be slightly shorter than usual. Hope you still enjoy.

Amrut Fusion

Amrut: Fusion (India Single Malt Whisky: No age statement: 50% ABV)

Visual: Custard gold.

Viscosity: Quite thick streaks, hard to tell on the glass.

Nose: Vanilla. Noticeable alcohol. Custard. Pencil shavings. Light apple. Water adds grass fields and sweet lemon.

Body: Smooth. Toffee. Barley biscuits. Pleasant oak. Malt chocolate. Fudge. Some alcohol. Water smooth and adds sweet lime.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Oak. Malt chocolate. Raisins. Water adds a dash of lime and more toffee. Some dry turmeric (Only noted after discussion with staff).

Conclusion: So, my first review of a whisky from India. I was discussing this with staff in the pub, and they considered Amrut to be distinctly a distinctive whisky in itself, which separates it from, say, Japanese whisky, which very closely emulates the Scottish style. Now it could be because this is their Fusion whisky, deliberately mixing in Scottish traits, but I found it quite close to the Scottish regions, and my first wondering was what region would it be best to compare it to.

For this I would say it reminds me of highland whisky. It has a slightly heavier body that most speysides, but still has that sweetness and a robust barley influence. It is very recognisable in the elements you get, toffee, lots of barley influence and some oak and malt chocolate. It is very refined, and reminds me of some of the vatted malts in how smooth it is. The higher than norm alcohol does give it some burn but a small amount of water soon soothes that.

After my discussion with the staff (see background for more info) I started noticing some slight turmeric in elements that I had previously thought of as dry oak – this could be entirely psychosomatic based on our chat, but by any interpretation there was that dry and more grounded character there.

So, to my eye, not that different from the Scottish character, though it does have a few more grounded notes. What it is however is a very proficient malt that shows a lot of smooth style. It will definitely appeal to fans of vatted malts, and those who prefer less sharp edges as this keeps itself very smooth. In that it feels it does not take many risks, but is still a highly competent whisky.

Background; My decision to review this may have been influenced by the chance to add India to my beer and whisky map. Anyway, found at Brewdog Bristol (Their whisky selection is getting seriously good), this is called Fusion as it uses a mix of Scottish and Indian Barley. I was discussing with one of the staff members and he commented that he found it quite spiced, with a lot of Indian spice influence, including cinnamon. I didn’t get a lot of that myself (See notes in the review) but thought I would mention as it never hurts to give you lot more info.

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