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For the people who’ve met me, know of my absolute love for Beer. There are wine enthusiasts, Single Malt Aficionados and then there’s me who considers himself a huge lover of Beer. From going off in talks about the intricacies of Beer to explaining to people about the different kinds. My love for Beer can be seen on my wall, where I proudly display my Beer Crown Collection on a plaque of the different kinds of Beer that I’ve had during my travels.

So you should be able to understand my elation of when the State Govt. of Telengana allowed for Microbreweries to be set up in Hyderabad. This was a first step which was going to change the Beer drinking culture in the state. Now it’s been more than 3 months with 4 breweries having already opened their doors and many more opening in the next few months. In this post we shall take a look as to how the 4 breweries have fared.

Micro-Breweries (6)

HyLife Brewing Company – The first Microbrewery to open it’s doors was HyLife. The moment you walk in to Hylife, the space is absolutely massive and lots of room to take a seating of your choice while you gulped a cold one. The first week of it’s launch, I truly liked the Lager (Drunken Monk) and Wheat (James Blonde). It was perfectly matured and had all the makings of a great beer. But it’s been a downhill from there. At no moment of time, they have any of the beers of tap available and also the food choices on the menu are terrible.

Micro-Breweries (3)

Prost Brew Pub – Prost had opened it’s doors first in Bangalore and finally now in Hyderabad. Located on the Jubilee Road No 45 stretch, it’s an exquisite property. From outdoor seating to lively indoors, Prost has got it all. The Brews at Prost have also been consistent. Prost is probably the only Microbrewery to have Stout available most of the time. The Wheat Beer is best among the 4 breweries as of now but the Apple Cider falls way short than intended. Prost is strongest in it’s huge choices in food that it serves. From the Bacon Wrapped Prawns, truly good pizzas and Kerala Style Beef. The food at Prost pairs great with the Beer that they serve.

Micro-Breweries (8)

Micro-Breweries (1)

Over The Moon – To be honest, I had been a bit skeptical of how the Brew Pub at OTM (as it’s affectionately called) would turn out. But it had to chew my own words in this regard, coz this for me is probably the best Micro Brewery in Hyderabad right now. The Ales are beautifully crafted (Both the American and Amber). The German Hefeweizen is the stuff of legends. The Stout though at OTM isn’t heavy and will be liked by light beer drinkers. I much prefer my Stout with a heavy body and loads of flavor unlike the one at OTM. The White High (Belgian Wheat) too is amazing and do request a slice of orange in the Wheat to bring out all of it’s robustness.

Micro-Breweries (3)

Micro-Breweries (5)

Zero40 Brewing – The newest entrant into the Micro-Brewery scene is Zero40 Brewing in Rd. No 10, Jubilee Hills. They are fairly new and the beers still do need a bit of time to mature. The names of the Beers are catchy and the food menu is beautifully crafted. I liked the flavors in The Ex (IPA) but it still needed a bit more of the crispness which comes with maturity. Considering that no other Brewery has brewed an IPA till now, this is a first and they’ve done a good job with it. They also serve a pretty decent Robust Porter.

Micro-Breweries (7)

The brewery scene is still picking up in the city which sure is going to change for the better in the coming months once the new entrants come in. There’s Olive Bistro and Heart Cup too which shall be launching there’s too in the near future. Tell us in the comments of the best ones that you’ve enjoyed among the four Micro-Breweries.

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As I sit down to pen this particular article on Scotch Whiskey, I can’t help but recollect the words of the famous novelist, Raymond Chandler. “There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others.” So we were off, enjoying a glass of refreshing Moscow Mule cocktail made from a base of Johnnie Walker Red Label overlooking the lake of Taj Banjara.

Art Of Blending By Diageo (2)

This is in fact my second time at ‘The Art of Blending’ session by Diageo and also a second time around interacting with Mr. Hemant Mundkur, the Brand Ambassador for United Spirits Limited, who conducts the  Scotch whisky appreciation sessions and makes it as interactive as it can be. As we seated ourselves, five golden liquids awaited us for the night ahead with ingredients on the plates to identify the tasting notes.

Art Of Blending By Diageo (7)

Art Of Blending By Diageo (6)

I’ve been to quite a few events by Diageo earlier and also enjoy a drink or two of the regular malts by them. The story as told by Hemant is quite intriguing from the different regions of Scotland to how each grain, landscape can influence the whiskey and it also differs from one another due to the work of the Master Blender. What I’d like to focus on this post is the work of the Master Blender which I’ve been quite reading up on after each event.

 

Art Of Blending By Diageo (8)

Art Of Blending By Diageo (5)

The most important objective of the Master Blender is to provide a consistent product of high quality with specific taste. As a blended whiskey is, quite simply, a mixture of two or more different whiskeys with one of them being a grain whiskey. The important skill then has to be to mix and blend the different whiskies to create something unique.

Art Of Blending By Diageo (1)

The top blended whiskeys showcased at the ‘Art of Blending’ event were

  1. Vat 69 – The most widely consumed malt whiskies, it has a hints of spice and caramel with a woody and spiced finish.
  1. Black & White – Sold originally in a black bottle with a white label and hence the name. The Black & White has a bit of rough taste of the grain alcohol with a hint of honey.
  1. Black Dog Triple Gold Reserve – The Black Dog Triple Reserve has been a bit of favorite of mine with a smoothness of vanilla, butterscotch, cinnamon and subtle hints of citrus. The taste lingers on the throat with a woody finish.
  1. Johnnie Walker Red Label – Having a sip of the JW Red Label is like Christmas in the mouth reminiscing about Plum Cakes of the holiday season. It has a smooth finish of smokiness with a hint of oak.
  1. Johnnie Walker Black Label – One of the most famous blends put together, the JW Black Label is a blend of almost 40 whiskies. Soon as it touches your palate, it’s quite rich and full with citrus, spices, barley and toffee notes. A very fruity finish at the end.

Every time someone has asked me why you are a Whiskey person and I have that one answer always. Whiskey is a complexity which demands appreciation. You longingly gaze at it, appreciate it’s color and glow and the first sip that touches your throat. That’s when you know what godly nectar felt like.

Art Of Blending By Diageo (4)

Note : Drink responsibly to enjoy and not to get drunk.

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India has primarily been a Whiskey drinking market or is considered to be but they still do keep a special place for the beers. There are amazingly lots and lots of Indian beers to be had as your travel the length and breadth of the country. During our travels we saw that that beers were taken as a drink that can be guzzled at one shot than actually sitting down and enjoying one during the hot summer days. Hence when I’ve asked for a beer in quite a few places, people have actually commented “Yeh light wala bandha hai. Beer se kuch nahin hota” (He’s a light-drinker. No high happens with drinking beer.) Beer culture has now evolved and is slowly giving us more options to enjoy a good brew.

Most of the Indian beers have been subjugated to being strong lagers. The good ones have been relegated to being metropolitan drinks while the most common ones found across India are all Strong. That doesn’t mean that all of them are bad. I’ve had actually had some great ones from among them.

The below beers mentioned have not been rated in any particular order and have each been tasted by us. Below is a list from our travel diaries of the Indian beers that one must definitely try.

  1. King’s Beer – Goa’s very own pilsner. If you’ve been to Goa even once, then you definitely know the worth of this beauty. The design of the bottle is unique and the taste is crisp. It has a malty zing and evaporates off your tongue soon as it hits it. Now that King’s is available in Mumbai and Bangalore too, but consuming one there just doesn’t have the same charm as drinking one in Goa.King's Beer
  2. Kingfisher Red – This variant of Kingfisher by United Breweries is even stronger than their usual Kingfisher Strong. Available right now mostly in North and East India, the beer pours a rich deep amber color. The taste was surprisingly clean and the alcohol hit quite fast too.Kingfisher Red
  3. Kingfisher Blue – If you’re one who loves spicy food, this beer will give you amazing company alongside. It has a hint of caramel and also grassy bitterness if you appreciate that kind of beers. But this is the perfect one for those lazy and hot days to chill with.Kingfisher Blue
  4. Royal Challenge – Chicken Tikkas and Royal Challenge. I remember many of my college days were spent having Royal Challenge while my other mates smuggled in Kingfisher. It pours a pale yellow and is quite watery too. It has a light body and gives off fair amount of carbonation with a fruity, malty taste.Royal Challenge
  5. Knockout – I still remember the first time I had Knockout. I was in my teens and scared that I might just be knocked out by the name itself. The Indian beer brands have never had a great history with naming their products. And Knockout too went down the same road. I’ve had quite a few times now and even shared one while sitting under a tree in complete darkness with a couple of local villagers with only crushed garlic as ‘chakna’ For the uninitiated to Indian drinking lingo, chakna is our version of alcohol accompaniments. This is mostly famous in the south of India.Knockout
  6. Haywards 5000 – There was a time when I had moved on to the imported beers. Then for research terms alone was the time when I ventured on to Haywards 5000. It has a huge carbo-head, white and bubbly. One of the better ones of the mass produced Indian beers. There is also the Haywards 10000 which is quite a rare find and is even stronger than the Haywards 5000.Haywards 5000
  7. Haywards Black– If you can get your hands on this one, then you should definitely grab hold and pick them. India’s first and ONLY stout beer, the Haywards Stout is hard to find. It’s a light stout and has a light smell of cocoa and coffee. A welcome change by SABMiller to be introducing this and also it’s categorizes itself as a strong one with an ABV of 7%.Haywards Black
  8. Hunter – This was the first beer in India which introduced the concept of strong beers. It’s the flagship brand of SOM Distilleries and Breweries Limited.Hunter
  9. Maharani Blue Lable – Notice the misspelling of ‘Lable’ instead of ‘Label’? Yes Maharani describes itself as the Queen of Strong Beers. I was absolutely hit after having two of them. I might not be a seasoned alcohol drinker, but it does deliver a hard alcoholic punch.Maharani Blue Lable & Kalyani Black Label
  10. Kalyani Black Label – The Kalyani beer is one of the bestselling beers in India made by United Breweries, the same guys who produce Kingfisher. It has a watery yellow look with a disappearing white head. It’s full, smooth and gets the job done without any of that dirty aroma.
  11. Maharani Red Lable – I guess all the products of M.P Beer Products Ltd love to display the wrong misspelling. But this was actually one of the best Indian beers that I’ve had. Have it absolutely chilled and the golden amber color is the best looking stuff that I’ve seen among Indian beer products. This is a must try if you can locate some of the Indian states selling these.Maharani Red Lable
  12. Dansberg – The Dansberg has acquired cult status in the north-east India. Brewed by Yuksom Breweries which is owned by our very own Bollywood baddie, Danny Denzongpa. It’s brewed using Sikkim’s spring waters and is actually pretty nice.Dansberg Beer
  13. Godfather – If Francis Ford Coppola put the thought of Marlon Brando as Godfather in the American heads, the Godfather beer does likewise in to our Indian bodies. Like most beers brewed in India, it’s a strong lager available in North, East and West of India.Godfather
  14. Indus Pride – I had picked these up from a liquor outlet in Bangalore just coz of the uniqueness of flavors. Aside from their regular lager, they have three other variants of Cardamom, Coriander and Cinnamon. Not many beers produced in India would pride themselves in selling such flavors.Indus Pride
  15. Palone – This is a pretty amazing beer to get your hands on. In fact the Palone brand was the very first beer that was launched by Carlsberg when they ventured into India. That itself speaks volumes about this beer though it’s hard to find it nowadays. It has a dark almost mahogany color with a nice big and fluffy head.Palone
  16. Hercules – The Greeks have left their mark in India too. The first time I had this beer, I found it a tad too sweet and was actually one of the better ones. It almost has a white grape flavor and finishes fairly dry.
  17. Cobra – It’s easier finding the Cobra beer in London than here in India. I had the Cobra beer in a suburban Indian restaurant in London and have since then not been able to locate it in India. It’s light on the palette and quite smooth. If you’re lighting up a BBQ, don’t forget a Cobra alongside then.Cobra Beer
  18. Concorde – When in East India while driving through villages, I couldn’t help but notice the Concorde brand proudly across many of the liquor shops. For a brand I had seldom heard off, this kind of marketing took me by surprise and I had to try it. Purchasing one, I was sent two floors underground to sit and drink. It was and still will be one of my shadiest experiences till date. I couldn’t have more than 100ml and I gave up after that. But this beer shall go down as one of the definitive experience in my beer drinking adventures.
  19. Hit – The Hit series again comes from the house of Yuksom Breweries. Yep the same guys whom I had mentioned in my Dansberg descriptions. While I had one standing by the shop, this drunk comes along and says “Hit bahut hit karta hai” (The Hit beer gives you a hit quite hard) which it truly did.Hit Beer
  20. Kotsberg – The Kotsberg beer comes from Devans Breweries, the same ones who are famous for their Godfather brand of beer. The packaging is almost made to international standards and priced in direct competition to Carlsberg and Budweiser Magnum. But did it match up in quality too? For people who love the taste of strong lagers, this might. But for me it just didn’t.Kotsberg

Special Mention

Bira91 – I have a special place in my heart for Bira91. Made by a group of individuals who actually understood beer, India’s first hand-crafted beer was born. It’s now almost become a household name in Bengaluru and Delhi. They have two variants, the Bira 91 White and the Bira 91 Blonde. And in case you’re wondering what the 91 stands for? It’s the country code of India that it so proudly displays.

Bira 91

Do let us know in the comments of any other beers that you’ve tried. We’d also love to hear some of the experiences that you’ve encountered while having a drink or two in a bar/town or any place in the comments.

Dansberg Photo Credit – damienroue
Hit Beer Photo Credit – shankaronline

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United Kitchens of India has become one of our favorite new restaurants in the city. Don’t let the bright sign fool you, coz once inside, opens up a world of food and drinks. As you cross over the bridge to be ushered in, the interiors are quite swanky and bright. The outside cabana-styled our seating is our favorite spot. But here in this post we aren’t getting into discussion about their amazing food and ambience. It’s going to be about their Liquids. Yes, those shiny cocktails which has us going ‘Ooooo’ (minion like….) every time we order one.

Cocktails (2)

We list out below our 5 favorite cocktails off the United Kitchen of India menu….

Lotta: When it comes to Master Mixologist Sharad Arora, his legacy of the Lotta precedes him. A mean cocktail would be an understatement to describe the Lotta which has won several awards. I do love the infusion of tenderness of the coconut in the white rum. Mint Julep, Basil and Passion Fruit come together in a lotta to give it the much needed freshness. We have tried variations in dark rum too and must say, they add to the flavor.

Lotta

Gulaboo: For people who like Whiskey and yet don’t like to drink it neat, the Gulaboo is for you. Rose Water, fizz and fresh rose petals give the whiskey a slight hint of sweetness which isn’t overpowering at the same time.

Gulaboo

Espresso Martini: This classic-stylish and killer drink is a real potent drink. It has quite the kick of sweetness and rich. The Espresso Martini at United Kitchens of India adds a tinge of hazelnut to give it their own sweet twist.

Espresso Martini

Gin Fizz: The Gin Fizz is my personal favorite here. On a sunny day this should be the drink in your hand. It’s extremely refreshing and is like drops of sweet nectar going down the throat. UKI makes the Lemon Sorbet fresh with every order, so I know for a fact that I’m going to get neatly packed one in my glass. The gin is infused with lemongrass in the Gin Fizz.

Road No. 45: The Road No. 45 is United Kitchens of India’s signature drink. Named after the road they are located on i.e Road No 45, Jubilee Hills, the cocktail brings in a balance of sweet and sour with elderflower syrup, mixing together the richness of bubbly and gin.

Other notable mentions include the Sufiana, Narangi Chaska and the Twisted Mojitos which come in choice of flavors like Plum & Passion Fruit/ Mandarin/ Raw Mango/ Kiwi & Fennel/ Fig & Tamarind.

Twisted Mojitos (2)

Cocktails (1)

They also have some amazing range of Beer Cocktails if you’ve exhausted through their vast cocktail menu.

Beer Cocktails

(Pics by FD Team – Arjun D)

 

In the video below Mixologist Sharad Arora shows us how to whip up a mean Sufiana, their take on the Absinthe.

 

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For people who’ve been following our Facebook page regularly will know of our love for SodaBottleOpenerWala, Hyderabad or as we put it SBOW. The menu is short but yet felt a little incomplete. And that has always been because the amazing, quirky drinks that we associate with SodaBottleOpenerWala had been missing to give it the major uplift.

After all a Parsi without his alcohol is no fun, and SBOW did miss it’s eccentricity without the license. Thankfully now SBOW is complete. With the government handing out alcohol licenses, the Bamabaiya cocktails we associate with SodaBottleOpenerWala of Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai are here in Hyderabad. So here we have the drinks menu of SodaBottleOpenerWala to help you choose your stuff the next time you’re there.

Majama Mojito: A Gujrati comes down to your table and you’ve just downed one of these Mojitos. The first question he asks is “Kem Cho?” And you sure will be like ‘Hic, Majama’. This is SBOW’s take on the classic Mojito with a twist. It’s light and made with fresh tender coconut water making it quite a refreshing drink to have on an afternoon.

Hello Darling And Bambai Mary Hai

Hello Darling: As we jump up in terms of concentrate of alcohol in SBOW’s menu, the next is the Hello Darling. For people who like vodka based martinis, this drink made with fresh muskmelon and watermelon juice makes for a great one to have. I like the fact that SodaBottleOpenerWala uses fresh fruits to make the concentrate rather than using the tetra-packs.

Hello Darling

Bambai Mary Hai: It isn’t SodaBottleOpenerWala if it hides it’s love for Bombay….oops Bambai. You’ve had the classic Bloody Mary and now try SBOW’s take on it using tamarind, roasted cumin and tomato.

Bambai Mary Hai

Kokum Nasha: The Kokum Nasha was the sweeter of the drinks on the menu. It might have been due to the kokum concentrate that they’d been using. It gives a spice hit with every sip at the back of your throat making sure to cut it down with lemon and fizz.

Kokum Nasha And Bambai Mary Hai

Out Of School: It’s nostalgic to remember the good old days when we would run out of school, buy guavas right outside the school premises and rub it all over with masala. Those were the times when distances didn’t matter when we had a cycle to take us everywhere. SBOW recreates that with the Out Of School with an addition of vodka.

Raspberry Breezer: For anyone who’s been to the Irani cafes of Bombay, there is no missing the Raspberry drinks with every meal. But didn’t we say before that alcohol makes stuff even better and that’s what the Raspberry Breezer does too.

Raspberry Breezer

Raspberry Shooters

Papa ne Queen: There are a few things the Parsis absolutely love. His car, alcohol, eeda and movies. Taking an inspiration off the Parsis love for movies is the Papa ne Queen. A white a dark rum based drink with hints of apple, mint and grape.

Papa ne Queen

Dikra/Dikri: This has to be the best of all the Cocktails created specially at SodaBottleOpenerWala. It’s vodka served two ways and has to be done in shots (atleast according to us). The Spiced Lemon vodka is brilliant and it doesn’t feel complete until you’ve downed the next kala khatta vodka. The next time you’re at SBOW, do make sure to create a game around this with your group of friends.

Dikra Dikri

And we have a little bit of “love is in the air” extra cuteness coming down at SBOW this Valentine. We quite like their concept of the Bambaiyya Love Tiffin Menu. A meal served in nostalgic tiffin dabbas for two.

Bambaiyaa Love Tiffin (Veg)

Bambaiyaa Love Tiffin (Non Veg)

The menu is quite unique starting off with the bhel (veg or seafood), a barley and vegetable soup with a dash of thetcha, cutlass, Chicken Sanju Baba (Yep the very same recipe by Sanjay Dutt at Noor Mohammadi) and Bambai Biryani. To close off the love affair with this food the Kala Khatta Cheesecake and Ferro Rocher Cake for desserts.

Bambaiyya Love Tiffin at SodaBottleOpenerWala-

SodaBottleOpenerWala Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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