Beer blues

May 31, 2010

I was trawling the entrails of a neighbourhood off-shop the other day when I came in for a mild shock. “Good shock or bad shock?” asked my wife after I returned home with a sack of bottles.

Well, surprise would be a better word. Pleasant surprise was what I got when I found scores of Kingfisher Blue in the shop’s fridge instead of the customary Haywards and Sandpipers.

This was the first time I spotted the brand in Delhi — I know, I am late at it — though the United Brewery Group did launch it as a ‘fresh, clean and crisp’ beer in the southern and western parts of the country more than a year ago.

After slobbering for half-an-hour while allowing the beer to chill, I poured the golden liquid into a hunky mug, purposely leaving an inch of head. It tasted unusually creamy and full-bodied, just like the head of a stout.

Another eager sip and the pleasure trip suddenly turned bitter, very bitter. “Bad shock,” I mumbled, realising this was my first beer in which the body tasted sharper than the head. In fact, it was even more repulsive than that glass of methi water all of us loved to hate in our childhood. I promptly squeezed half a lemon into the mug, poured in some Limca and somehow salvaged the evening with a rudimentary shandy.

More ale than lager (Courtesy: Flickr)

Considering Kingfisher Premium is one of the handful of drinkable Indian beers, it’s strange that the UB has gone wrong with the Blue, a costlier drink launched as a ‘premium beer’ for the ‘new generation’.

The Blue tastes way too strong for a beer positioned in the mid-segment with an alcohol content of 6 per cent: higher than the Premium’s but lower than the KF Strong’s. For one like me, who falls for smoothness in drinks, be it a single malt or a beer, it seemed from the Blue’s taste and strength that the UB has simply relabelled and marketed its equally unpalatable KF Strong as the Blue.

The pricing is another factor that goes against the latest offering from Vijay Mallya’s stable. A 650-ml bottle of Blue costs Rs 55, the same as the infinitely tastier and lighter Tuborg, a Carlsberg product. So why would I pay the same for a worse product?

Conversely, had I been younger with a tongue for strong beers — the segment that the Blue seemingly targets — I would instead have settled for Knockout, Haywards, Zingaro, Turbo or Kingfisher Strong (all Rs 45 for as rasping a taste as the Blue’s) and bought half a plate of chana with the five rupees saved on each bottle.

Even a can of the curiously named Okocim Palone, Carlsberg’s premium strong beer that contains 7 per cent alcohol, tasted better and cost less than Blue after I had bought one out of curiosity to beat the Mussoorie chill last November.

Both ways, Blue doesn’t make sense and nearly spoiled my evening.

Sipping on the KF Blue shandy, I longed for a mean Michelada — a beer cocktail bartenders in CP’s Rodeo conjure so well — or the superlative Pilsner called King’s that you sadly get only in the sun-kissed shacks of Goa.

But that’s another story.

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4 Responses to “Beer blues”

  1. Sharmi said

    Okie…this is so laden with beer jargon that I don’t quite get it!!! I guess, boys will really bond over this! But a delightful read nonetheless…Carry on mister 🙂

  2. netdhaba said

    Thank you, Madam.
    The essence of beer is simple — it’s another name of life. It should be liberally sipped on to save water in a dry place like Delhi, it’s perfect as a batter for fried fish, it’s gentle to your hair…
    I could go on and on, but then, as they say, the proof of the pudding… oops, lager, is in the sipping!
    🙂

  3. Abhi said

    Mr D. For a beer connossieur (hope I got the spelling right!) such as yourself need to get a taste of Deutchland…all the Berliner kindles, pilsners, weissers and the Becks await you:) Let’s go there together someday!

    • netdhaba said

      @Abhi: Thanks for the proposal. I will be more than thrilled to go to Germany with you, considering you are a state guest over there!
      Till then, let’s maintain our sanity in the heat by Tuborging and pigging
      😀

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