The Indian beer industry is booming, and a visit to India wouldn't be complete without trying some of the top Indian beers on offer.
Beer was introduced into India by the British, who eventually set up a brewery that produced Asia's first beer -- a pale ale called Lion. However, these days, lager is the only type of beer you'll find available in India. It comes in two strengths -- mild (around 5% alcohol) and a generous strong (6-8% alcohol). Depending on the place, a large 650 ml bottle of beer will cost you between 50-70 rupees ($1-1.50) at a liquor store, and double or triple that at a bar.
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Kingfisher, "The King of Good Times", is India's most recognized and widely available beer. Its name has been associated with sports, fashion, and even an airline. The beer itself is a light tasting, easy drinking beer with plenty of malt. It goes down really well -- if not a little too well at times! Kingfisher Strong, containing around 8% alcohol, is fast growing in popularity and has more flavor than the regular Kingfisher Premium, which has 4.8% alcohol. Another variation is Kingfisher Blue, marketed at the young and trendy. This is also a strong beer with around 8% alcohol but it has a very light watery taste. Distinctive and full-bodied Kingfisher Ultra, made from imported ingredients, is the newest label to hit the market.
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Haywards beer is light bodied and watery tasting, so definitely not recommended for those who prefer beer with bite! The brand is most well known for its Haywards 5000 label -- a top selling strong beer that contains 7% alcohol. Haywards also produces Haywards 2000, a mild beer with 5.5% alcohol, and the rarer super strong Haywards 10000. Lovers of stout beer may be interested in Haywards Black -- India's first genuine stout beer. It's a strong dark colored beer, with 8% alcohol, and a heavy sweet malty taste that apparently hints of caramel (personally though, I'm not a fan of stout and haven't tried it).
3. Royal Challenge
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Royal Challenge Premium is a mild beer containing 5% alcohol. It's most popular in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Orissa. The beer has a long brewing cycle, giving rise to its slogan of "Brewed Longer, Brewed Better". In comparison to many Indian beers, it's quite a full bodied and tasty beer. It's not as flavorsome as the Kalyani Black Label, but is still distinctive.
4. Kalyani Black Label
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Kalyani Black Label is one of India's oldest lagers and is particularly popular in eastern India, in cities such as Kolkata
, as well as Delhi
. It comes in both premium and strong varieties. The strong beer is described as "a smooth, mellowed brew with an extra bite". Its alcohol content, at 7.8%, packs quite a punch, along with its sweet aftertaste. If you like a beer with flavor, go for Kalyani.
The beautiful beaches of Goa
and Kings beer go hand in hand. This beer, which unfortunately is only brewed and sold in the state of Goa, is a highlight of any trip there. The Kings Black Label premium pilsner is a very light tasting, pale colored, beer that's known for its smoky malt aroma. Its got an alcohol content of 4.85%, and is priced very attractively. A small 375 ml bottle will only set you back around 35 rupees (75 cents) at most beach shacks, and half that at a liquor store. No wonder Kings remains a fond memory for many people long after the vacation is over!