The six-pack culture in India has long been dominated by crisp, refreshing lagers. However, more recently, the complex stout – featuring notes of chocolate, coffee, and caramel – has found a place in the drinking habits of beer aficionados especially in India. Here’s looking at a few that we’re cracking open this weekend.
Easily distinguished by its deep, dark colour – stout beer’s origins lie in 18th century England and Ireland. Several reports state that this style was first popularised by the evergreen Guinness, and was then understood as a beer with a high alcohol percentage. Over the years, it has evolved. Today, it’s characterised by roasted malts which give way to a complex, decidedly intense flavour and creamy texture.
With producers experimenting with barrel types as well as ingredients like cacao, coffee, oats, and milk – every sip can present notes ranging from baked bread to dark chocolate. The brewing process further determines the ABV (alcohol by volume). This versatility in mind, there’s a bottle for every occasion and preference – in part why stout beers have quickly gained steam in India. And if you’ve got a beer ritual scheduled for the weekend, our ready reckoner of the best of these styles in the country will not disappoint.
These bottled stout beers in India are guzzle worthy
One of the most popular beer brands in the country – Simba holds the reputation for producing quality malts. It’s also known to be the first to bring bottled stout to the country. Their easy-drinking rendition pours an ebony and is robust and bold. Every sip is reminiscent of caramel, espresso, and dark chocolate. Creamy, low in bitterness, and bursting with flavour – this one’s a classic option.
ABV: 5 percent
Price: Rs 175 approx. (330 ml)
Bira 91 Malabar Stout
Coffee aficionados – this one’s for you. Popular craft beer brand Bira 91 – known for its innovative brews – is the name behind one of the most exciting stout beers in India. Their rendition – in collaboration with Blue Tokai – uses coffee beans sourced from the Malabar Hills (hence the label). These are then combined with roasted malt, oats, and lactose. The payoff? A beer that pours amber and is reminiscent of a refreshing cold brew. Every sip also evokes notes of chocolate and nuts. Light on the palate, high in bitterness – this one’s a must try.
ABV: 4.2 percent
Price: Rs 170 approx. (330 ml)
Guinness Draught Stout
We’d be remiss not to list the iconic stout beer that truly paved the way for the style across the globe. Featuring a toasty aroma and midnight ruby hue – this Irish malt has stood the test of time. The draught was first brewed in 1959 to celebrate the 200-year anniversary of Arthur Guinness embarking on his malt journey with the St. James’ Gate Brewery. Creamy and rich, it has hints of roasted coffee and chocolate on the nose. Every sip, meanwhile, is reminiscent of milk chocolate. Smooth – with the perfect balance of bitter and sweet – you can’t go wrong with this choice.
ABV: 4.2 percent
Price: Rs 500 approx. (440 ml)
Igloo Heavy Hitter: Russian Imperial Stout
With brews that come with the promise of high-quality ingredients, Igloo is at the forefront of the craft beer revolution that’s sweeping the nation. Their stout beer lives up to the reputation and is a nod to a version of the style that was originally brewed for the Russian Czar. Dark and intense in flavour, every sip is reminiscent of coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt. The bitterness is high with this one, which makes it a bold choice. Not to mention, it’s quite strong as well, so be sure to drink in moderation.
ABV: 8 percent
Price: Rs 600 approx. (1 l)
Goa Brewing Co. Breakfast Cereal Stout
Known for its unique, non-conformist beers – Goa Brewing Co. truly captures the spirit of India’s sunshine state. Their Breakfast Cereal Stout is packed with Sleepy Owl Coffee, cornflakes, oats, and milk sugar. It’s then matured on single-estate cacao nibs. The payoff? An indulgent, creamy sip that’s reminiscent of bitter chocolate and a warm cup o’ Joe. Not to mention, the flavour combinations are quite nostalgic, especially if you grew up eating cereal for breakfast. If you’re in Goa, don’t miss out on this one.
ABV: 4.5 percent
Price: Rs 200 approx. (330 ml)
Coopers Best Extra Stout
Rounding out this list with a punch is this popular stout beer that hails from Australia. Coopers Best Extra Stout is an all-malt creation – particularly roasted black malt – that’s naturally conditioned in the bottle. The payoff? Rich fruit and chocolate flavours, complemented by bitter hop notes. The complex and creamy brew also has hints of black currant and coffee. Best part? There’s no additives or preservatives in this one. If you’d like a classic stout, this is the beer to go for.
ABV: 6.3 percent
Price: Rs 695 approx. (375 ml)
All images: Courtesy Shutterstock/Brands
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India
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