Punching Above Their Weight: The Best Local Beers In India
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Craft beers made locally in India come in a wide range of styles and flavors and are made using a variety of traditional and contemporary brewing methods. Local craft beers in the country are a world away from the mass-produced brands we find in liquor stores. Both large chains like the Bira Taproom and small-scale operations like Goa Brewing Co. produce exceptional beers that are truly distinctive, even on a global scale, made with masterful technique and the best endemic ingredients. There is an Indian beer to suit every taste, from crisp lagers to rich stouts. In this article, we examine some of India's top regional beers and the stories that surround them. So grab a cold one, settle in, and prepare to discover more about the amazing beers made right here in India.

Indian breweries make beers in a variety of different styles; for the sake of convenience and availability, we’ve picked out a few good brews under the most popular styles.


We're sure you've seen the word everywhere, from pints of UB Export to cans of Bud, but just what does it mean? A lager is a bottom-fermented beer that is made using wheat or malt and is considered to be one of the beverage’s purest forms, since there are comparatively fewer elements and processes involved with the making of this beer as opposed to any style associated with the drink. Water, grain, yeast, and hops—that's all there is to it. Lagers are characterized by a bitter taste, defined by the hops used in the preparation of the beverage. This is probably the most popular style of craft beer in the country, or in the world, for that matter. Read on to learn about two brews that have defined the style in the Indian market.

People’s Lager: Goa Brewing Co.’s take on lager is a breath of fresh air in a market that is saturated with wheat lagers that all more or less taste the same. The familiar sweet and nutty malt flavor of this beer is offset by the sweet, treacly notes of Goan ukdo rice. A pint of this lager will set you back 125 rupees.

Basmati Blonde: This pilsner contains a large proportion of basmati rice in the mash, which is responsible for the beer's aromatic nose and pale color. The rice is complemented by European malts and noble hops, which make for a light, easy-drinking beer with a faint basmati aroma. This beer has a clean palate, which is defined by sweet notes of malt, typical of pilsner beers that feature the addition of rice. One can find a glass of this pilsner at Toit’s in Bangalore for as little as Rs. 160*.

Ales and IPAs

Ales are a type of warm, fermented beer distinguished by a full-bodied, fruity flavor. These hearty brews tend to have a higher percentage of alcohol and lower amounts of carbonation in contrast to other styles of beer. Ales are often strongly flavored with hops, in addition to other flavorants such as herbs and/or fruit.

The most popular sub-class of this style is the IPA, or Indian Pale Ale. We've all heard how the first barrels of the hazy brew arrived in India on British cargo ships before becoming the bane of every cicerone since. IPAs are characterized by the heavy use of hops, which give them a pronounced bitter flavor and hazy appearance. IPA has been one of the most popular styles in the craft beer scene for a while now. Here are two of the best representations of the style in the country:

Bira Gold: Bira’s take on the weizenbock (German wheat beer) is characterized by a cloudy appearance and pronounced flavors of citrus and honey. This beer is sold unfiltered and is probably the best commercially available craft beer in the country. This hazy ale is concocted with Indian-grown wheat and European malts, which account for its honey-like sweetness, and flavored with noble hops, which bring in notes of citrus and add a pronounced bitterness that helps balance out the sweetness of the malt. A pint of this beverage costs Rs. 110*.

Eight Finger Eddie: Another Goa Brewing Co. classic, this hazy IPA has an intense palate of tropical fruits and a soft, full mouth feel. The brew’s texture can be attributed to the use of oats in the final mash and the low bitterness to the dry hopping technique employed in the late stages of brewing. A pint of this beer will set you back Rs. 220*.


This is a style of beer that is characterized by the use of roasted malt or grain in the mash. Stout beers have pronounced notes of coffee and chocolate and rich, full bodies owing to the sediment that several manufacturers choose not to filter out. This style is also distinct in that it relies more heavily on malt or grain for flavor rather than hops. Stouts have only recently infiltrated the Indian craft beer scene. Read on to learn about two must-try stouts that define the category in India.

Simba Stout:  India’s favorite craft stout and the first to be bottled in the country. This stout has heavy notes of espresso, chocolate, and caramel, as well as a rich, full mouthfeel that stems from the use of roasted wheat in the mash. This beer is unfiltered and offers incredible bang for the buck at just Rs. 150 for a pint.

Guinness Draught: Yup, the same folks that came up with the book The first thing you notice in a can of Guinness is the smooth mouthfeel, which comes as no surprise since the brew is aerated with nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide, which cuts out the sharpness entirely. The brew has pronounced notes of treacle, milk chocolate, and coffee and is best enjoyed poured into a glass. Each can of Guinness has a nitrogen canister called a "widget" that flushes the can with gas as soon as you pop it open, giving you an authentic draught experience. This beverage costs Rs. 515* per 440-ml can.

*Bangalore MRP prices