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India’s Love Affair With Strong Beers


 

India’s cumulative Beer sales are dominated by “Strong” lagers with United Brewery’s Kingfisher Strong leading the sales by volume.

Strong beers account for 80% of the volume of overall volume of 300 million cases (source: Economic Times).

UB leads the country with a market share of 52% and to combat a 2% drop in volume in FY17, they have introduced a new premium Strong Lager, Kingfisher Storm to battle rivals brand Carlsberg’s portfolio – Tuborg Strong, Carlsberg Elephant and the newly released Tuborg Classic.

KF Strong Range Liquor Store

Strong Beers at the Liquor Store

 

Strong High Gravity brews are not something you’ll find in our fridges at any point of time but we like covering all things Beer and decided to pit the Kingfisher (KF) Storm against the existing KF strong beer portfolio – The KF Strong entry level strong Beer and the premium KF Ultra Max to see how this new beer compared.

We jokingly refer to KF as Uncle Mallya’s Beers and we wish him the very best.

Joining me in on this taste session is Akash, one of the co-admins of our recently created “Friends Of Froth” spin off Facebook group for die hard Beer drinkers across India.  Feel free to join the group if you feel compelled to do so.

Let’s see if the Storm took us by Storm or did it result in an All Out? (See what we did there!)

 


 

Taste Test

 

The 3 Musketeers

 

All 3 Beers were stored at the same temperature and poured at the same time into 3 glasses and we took turns taste testing these 3 beers.  All 3 beers were 500 ml cans.

Production Dates:

  • KF Strong – April 24, 2017

  • KF Ultra Max – February 27, 2017

  • KF Storm –  April 24, 2017


KF Strong | 8% ABV | MRP 95 (Karnataka)

Ingredients: Water, Malted Barley, Sugar, Rice/Maize/Millet/Corn Syrup, Hops & Yeast

 

KF STrong

Gold/Straw colored and pours with a foamy head that dissipates quite quickly, high carbonation.

On the nose, malt and corn/rice notes mixed in with a high dose of fusel alcohols and some sweetness coming through.

On the palate, crispy, light bodied with plenty of warming notes, sweetness and a rather unpleasant lingering bitter/sweet finish.

Overall, a Beer that is much easier to drink when super chilled but quite tedious to consume as it warms up.


 

KF Ultra Max | 8% ABV | MRP 115 (Karnataka)

Ingredients: Water, Malted Barley, Sugar, Rice/Maize/Millet/Corn Syrup, Hops & Yeast

 

KF Ultra Max

Gold/Straw colored and pours with a foamy head that dissipates quite quickly, high carbonation.

On the nose, malt and corn/rice notes mixed in with a slight dose of fusel alcohols and some sweetness coming through.

On the palate, crispy, light bodied with subtle warming notes, sweetness and a smooth short finish.

Overall, a Beer that is much easier to drink compared to the KF Strong – definitely a lot more refined. On warming, the strong alcohol content is present but manageable.


 

KF Storm| 8% ABV | MRP 100 (Karnataka)

Ingredients: Water, Malted Barley, Sugar, Rice/Maize/Millet/Corn Syrup, Hops & Yeast

 

KF Storm

Gold/Straw colored and pours with a foamy head that dissipates quite quickly, high carbonation.

On the nose, mild malt and corn/rice notes mixed in with a mild dose of fusel alcohols and some sweetness coming through mixed with a few floral notes which is quite different from the Ultra Max.

On the palate, crispy, light bodied with subtle warming notes, less sweetness and a smooth short finish.

Overall, a Beer that is clean and crisp and actually reminded us of a normal lager- definitely a lot more refined. On warming, the strong alcohol content is present which is why this is best consumed at the typical lager serving temperature range 4-7 Deg C.


 

Overall Impression

 

The Lineup

 

How does the new Storm fair? Based on our preliminary taste test against the others in the UB strong portfolio, the Storm is a marked improvement but we cannot seem to fathom its product placement. At just 15 rupees cheaper than the Ultra Max and with a slightly better taste profile, will this mean the end of the Ultra Max or is the Storm being positioned for a different market altogether?

We’d love for UB to chime in and tell us or we shall be forever in the dark. Uncle are you listening?

Like we mentioned before, Strong Beers are not our go to Beers and we would rather put our hands around a regular lager with adjuncts if no Craft Beers are present.

What baffles us is why there are so many lager variants and we can only think of one thing – High Gravity Brewing – something several commercial breweries use and to a certain extent production Craft Breweries in the West.  The principle is simple – brew a higher gravity (strength) brew and then dilute as necessary to create a new variant that can be color and flavor tweaked.  Doing this gives you better equipment productivity but the disadvantage is that you can only experiment with one style of Beer – does that ring a bell?

Is this practice right or wrong? Well, you get what you pay for. Think of this like processed food vs organic. You can do the rest of the mathematics.

If we had to choose between a regular commercial lager or strong one, we would pick the former. A sessionable lager without the intent of getting buzzed seems to be more in line with what a seasoned beer drinker would choose.

Honestly, we would rather sip on a hand crafted brew any day even if it meant shelling out a few more bucks.

If you’re out just to get smashed, pick up a quart of your favorite spirit, a bottle of water, club soda or a cola! You can figure out the rest.

Until then, always remember to stay ahead of your Beer and always say out loud:

Cheers and Stay Frothy!!!

JJ The Keg


All Images: Courtesy Tales Of Froth

 

 

One thought on “KF Storm: Taste Test

  1. Pingback: The Rumor Mill | TaLeS Of FrOtH

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