Beers On A Plate

International Beer Day

ibd cover


Guest Post | Ram’s Top 10 Picks

It’s always a pleasure when you meet like minded individuals over a Beer who share the same passion you do. Ram Vaidynathan and I seem to be cut from the same cloth – well almost.

Ram Profile Photo

We both have engineering backgrounds and have worked several different jobs and love sales & marketing but that’s not the end of it.

Our choices in music are similar with our roots firmly based in metal, we both play musical instruments and have played in bands, traveled and lived in other countries and we both share an obsession with Beer.  (Yes, I’ve played rhythm guitar for years now and most recently used to play in a pub band in Canada for fun. My Les Paul is gathering a bit of dust but perhaps Ram may pick up his bass again and I might just have to restring that Les Paul and plug it into my 100 W studio amp and shock all of you folks).

Ram’s obsession with Beer spans several years and unlike me, he took the time out to document the many hundreds of Beers from around the world he’s tried over several number of years.  He’s also the co-founder of the Yeast India Companywhich specializes in Import Beer distribution that he started with Riday Thakur (who now runs the company on his own).

I asked Ram to dig through his memoirs and pick out 10 of his all time favorite beers for this post specially curated for International Beer Day.

Before we get into his article, a few facts about International Beer Day!

Cheers and Stay Frothy!

JJ The Keg


What Is International Beer Day?

 

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http://internationalbeerday.com/about-international-beer-day/

International Beer Day (IBD) is a global celebration of beer, taking place in pubs, breweries, and backyards all over the world. It’s a day for beer lovers everywhere to raise a toast to our brewers and bartenders and rejoice in the greatness of beer!

Facts

  • International Beer Day takes place annually on the first Friday in August
  • First celebrated in August 2008
  • August was chosen for its summer weather and distance from other beer celebrations
  • Celebrated in over 200 cities globally

The Purpose

  • To gather with friends and enjoy the deliciousness that is beer.
  • To celebrate the dedicated men and women who brew and serve our beer.
  • To bring the world together by celebrating the beers of all nations and cultures on this one remarkable day.

Raise your glass to celebrate the heroes behind each tasty brew. Cheers and Happy International Beer Day!

Quick Facts


  • International Beer Day takes place annually on the first Friday in August
  • First celebrated in August 2008
  • August was chosen for its summer weather and distance from other beer celebrations

When?

August 4, 2017

 

(Excerpts from The International Beer Day Website. )


 

Beer on a Plate: 10 Standout Beers From My Travels Around The World

By Ram Vaidyanthan

Beer choices

I’m not usually a fan of doing “best-of” lists. They’re really difficult to narrow down, and you always end up regretting the omission of something. Also, despite being generally subjective, I’ll get a whole lotta “BUT HOW COULD YOU LEAVE THIS OUT OMGWTFBBQLOL??!?” so I’ll start with a disclaimer that this list isn’t exhaustive – it could easily have been 30 or 40, but 10 is a nice, listicle-sized number.

Another disclaimer: I’ve had the pleasure (and in very, very few cases, the misfortune) of sampling over 800 beers from around the world and many of them have been interesting, from a purely conceptual point of view rather than from a purely qualitative perspective e.g. Wyntroop’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout made with bull testicles. That list, of the most unique and innovative beers, will come soon. This list is all about the most flavourful, balanced, delicious beers that I would try again and again whenever I can find them. I’ve always maintained that the best beers in the world are the ones that don’t forget to be sessionable while still pushing the envelope.

So, in no particular order, here we go!


 

  • Tripel Karmeliet

01 Tripel Karmeliet

Brewer: Brouwerij Bosteels

Type: Belgian Tripel

ABV: 8.4%

Country of Origin: Belgium

Appearance: Gorgeous golden orange, with big, frothy head

Aroma: Summer fruit, yeast, spice, bread

Taste: Fruit, caramel, citrus, clove, esters

Palate: Medium body, high carbonation, dry finish

Largely, the fun of writing listicles like this is in referencing the obscure – that single barrel Imperial aged porter from a micro in Finland, or that elusive once-a-year rare hop double IPA from New Zealand – but sometimes, the most obvious choices are the most beautiful ones. For me, there can be no more obvious choice than the Karmeliet. Tasting this for the first time was like tasting ice cream for the first time as a kid, knowing instantly that this was love. Three grains – barley, oats and wheat – and a 300-year old recipe, laden with every ounce of goodness from the greatest beer nation in the world. This is a perfect beer.


 

  • Left Hand Milk Stout (Regular/Nitro)

02 Left Hand Milk Stout

Brewer: Left Hand Brewing

Type: Sweet Stout

ABV: 6%

Country of Origin: USA

Appearance: Rich dark chocolate brown, creamy, soft but slight head

Aroma: Bourbon (the biscuit, not the whisky), Cocoa, Vanilla, Roasted malt

Taste Notes: Sweet, chocolate, coffee

Palate: Thick, creamy texture, espresso like consistency and warm, dark chocolate finish

Introduced to me by my partner in crime at Yeast India Company, I immediately fell for its unassuming, unpretentious nature – I love the “Left Hand” name and logo (It’s surprising how much these little details can make a difference to the beer drinking experience). It pours like a beautiful chocolate malt shake and is a proper dessert beer – sinfully rich, luscious and possessing that rarest of qualities – comfort.


 

  • Fuck Art: The Heathens Are Coming

03 To Øl Fuck Art The Heathens Are Coming.jpg

 

Brewer: To Øl

Type: Grisette/Saison

ABV: 5.4%

Country of Origin: Norway

Appearance: Hazy golden yellow, cloudy with a big fluffy head

Aroma: Yeast, floral, citrus, grass, herbal

Taste: Spicy, tart, herbal, citrus

Palate: Dry, minty and herbal to start, with a light body and a slight fruit/tart finish

Forget Brewdog, you don’t have to look beyond Norway’s To Øl for craft beer brewed with a punk ethic, or in their words, a gypsy ethic. Formed with the sole intention of challenging the established order of traditional European beer, they don’t own their own brewing facility and rent out spare production space from other brewers. The Fuck Art series typifies their irreverence and their approach of pushing the boundaries of beer. Listed as a grisette by some, and a saison by some others, this particular variant is almost four beers in one – such is the complexity of the flavor. An incredible sensory experience.


 

  • The Kernel Pale Ale Cascade Mandarina Bavaria

04 The Kernel Pale Ale Cascade Mandarina Bavaria

Brewer: The Kernel

Type: American Pale Ale

ABV: 5.4%

Country of Origin: UK

Appearance: Cloudy pale orange, medium orange specked head with light lacing

Aroma: Grapefruit, orange, hops, pine

Taste: Citrus, raw mango, bitter

Palate: Low carbonation, surprisingly soft body, caramel/citrus on the nose with a bitter finish

To be honest, I could have named any of the many pale ales/IPAs by The Kernel that I’ve had the pleasure of consuming. I actually went back and forth for about an hour trying to figure out which one them to pick for this article. They’ve done about 200 beers in this style by now, with a variety of different hop combinations. I picked this one because of the rarity of the Mandarina Bavaria hop – a floral, fruity, aromatic hop that made this beer stand out. Americans pride themselves on their APAs and IPAs, but this brewer from across the pond can take on any of them toe-to-toe.


 

  • Avec les Bons Voeux

05 Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux

Brewer: Brasserie Dupont

Type: Saison

ABV: 9.5%

Country of Origin: Belgium

Appearance: Hazy straw yellow, soft plume head with good lacing

Aroma: Yeast, spice, banana, guava

Taste: Mild tart, sweet, citrus, malt

Palate: Dry, almost white wine character, smooth body and spicy finish

Can you really say you’ve had a saison till you’ve had one from Belgium? In a country chock full of ancient, world class breweries that have acquired legendary status, Dupont is a fine counter-example of a younger, unassuming brewery that resembles the modern “craft” ethic, making a small but brilliant selection of beers. It seems a little callous to just call them beers – crafted fermented luxury beverages would be far more befitting. This is a ridiculously easy drinking beer for that ABV, lulling you into a false sense of security and then lapping you in its heady embrace.


 

  • Barrel Aged Näcken

06 Siren Brewing Barrel Aged Nacken.jpg

Brewer: Siren Brewing / Omnipollo

Type: Hopfenweisse

ABV: 7.4%

Country of Origin: UK

Appearance: Sulphuric hazy straw yellow, speckled off-white head that doesn’t last

Aroma: Funk, yeast, vinegar, musk

Taste: Tart, apple, grape, citrus, alcohol

Palate: Astringent, dry, with a huge sour start and a bittersweet finish

I’m a sucker for complex, sour beers. Siren, who are one of a big new rush of exceptionally talented and visionary brewers from the UK, teamed up with Omnipollo and took a perfectly normal batch of German wheat beer and let it sit in Chardonnay barrels for a year, then hopped it generously with Simcoe and Citra, loaded it with Brettanomyces yeast and created this incredibly brilliant bastard child of an IPA, wheat beer and sour that has so many levels of flavor, it ought to be served in a Michelin star restaurant. The real catch? The complexity doesn’t affect its drinkability one bit.


 

  • La Chouffe

07 La Chouffe.jpg

Brewer: Brasserie d’Achouffe

Type: Belgian Blonde/Pale Ale

ABV: 8%

Country of Origin: Belgium

Appearance: Sunshine in a glass, beautiful golden orange with a massive billowing head

Aroma: Spice, orange, ripe fruit, cloves, peach

Taste: Malt, earth, sweet, fruit, ester,

Palate: Smooth, light body, loads of tart citrus sweetness upfront and an alcoholic fuzz finish

If you had to pick ONE beer with which to introduce to your non-beer drinking friends, make sure this is it. I speak from experience – every single person I know who has ever tried this beer has fallen instantly in love with it. It’s easy to understand why – I keep harping on the word “balance” when it comes to beer. You could put a photo of a La Chouffe right next to the dictionary definition. This is sunshine in a bottle, with a happy gnome outside.


 

  • West Coast IPA

08 Green Flash West Coast IPA

Brewer: Green Flash Brewing Co.

Type: Double/Imperial IPA

ABV: 8.1%

Country of Origin: USA

Appearance: Cloudy amber/orange with a massive, foamy head that dissipates quick

Aroma: Hops, grapefruit, pine

Taste: Caramel, biscuit, bitter, alcohol, citrus

Palate: Massive hop bitterness to begin, syrupy sweet alcoholic finish

Let me get this out of the way – I detest this ridiculous hop war going around the craft scene nowadays. In a bid to make the baddest, brashest brews possible, brewers are forsaking common sense and drinkability. Green Flash manage to integrate not 2 or 3, but FOUR hops (Citra, Cascade, Columbus & Centennial) into a work of supreme craft. The 95 IBUs of bitterness are enveloped by a malty, warm, sweet alcoholic blanket and the resultant mix is equal parts beauty and beast.


 

  • Don De Dieu

09 Unibroue Don De Dieu.jpg

Brewer: Unibroue (Sapporo)

Type: Belgian Strong Ale

ABV: 9%

Country of Origin: Canada

Appearance: Cloudy orange-yellow with a foamy head. Relatively high carbonation for this style

Aroma: Esters, citrus, banana, cloves

Taste: Fruity, sweet, spicy, tart

Palate: Lingering tart sweetness, subdued alcoholic warmth and almost no bitterness in the finish

For the craft beer nerd, there’s no dirtier word than “macro”. It conjures up images of big beer corporations and fat cats who peddle fizzy, insipid, tasteless garbage in the name of beer. No self respecting craft beer drinker ought to have anything good to say about “macros”, surely? I present the case for the opposition. Canada’s Unibroue were taken over by Japanese giant Sapporo in 2006, but have retained their reputation for making absolutely brilliant beers with the signature Quebecois artistic bent that pervades through the region. They’re still hipster in their own way, not retailing anywhere outside North America and producing challenging brews like the Maudite, the Trois Pistoles and my favourite, the Don de Dieu. Everything about this beer is brilliant; from the cloying fruity aroma to the heady alcoholic sweetness, to the fact that this is a rare wheat based tripel. “Don de Dieu” translates into “Gift from God”. Even as an affirmed atheist, I’d have to agree.


 

  • 2012 Vintage Oak Aged Ale (Barrel No. 170)

10 Rodenbach 2012 Vintage Oak Aged Ale (Barrel No. 170)

Brewer: Brouwerij Rodenbach N.V.

Type: Flanders Red/Brown Ale

ABV: 7%

Country of Origin: Belgium

Appearance: Amber/Ruby red, small head, low carbonation

Aroma: Cherries, vinegar, funk, wood,

Taste: Sour, fruity, hints of vanilla and spice

Palate: Medium body, lots of sourness up front and a dry sweet finish

Craft beer is now a global phenomenon – you can’t find a country where there isn’t some sort of movement taking shape. However, oblivious to all this hubbub, one nation continues to brew and drink beers the way they have for more than 700 years. More often than not, they are better than anything you’ve ever tasted anywhere. Belgium has no concept of craft beer per se, because pretty much every damn beer they make is craft.

While their trappists and wits are pretty famous around the world today, the Flanders brown/red ale is a unique, historical beer style that hasn’t caught on yet. Everytime I drink a Rodenbach, I can’t quite understand why. Their Vintage series is a limited series created by aging their unblended red ale in handpicked oak barrels for two years and letting nature take its course – a perfect example of doing simple things, but doing them perfectly and an expression of craft, art and history that is quintessentially Belgian

(Note: Special mentions to a few that JUST missed out – Duvel Tripel Hop 2015, Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA, Sankt Gallen’s Sweet Vanilla Stout, Beavertown’s Gamma Ray and Rochefort 10)


 

Thank you Ram for sharing your list with us- a lot of these Beers from around the world are on my list of favorites and now a few are on my to taste list! I look forward to seeing you contribute more articles in the near future!

Let’s go pick up those guitars, crack open a few good pints and crank those tunes out! \m/

All Images Courtesy – International Beer Day Webiste and Ram Vaidyanathan

Cover Photo: Tales Of Froth – Shot at Woodside Inn – Lower Parel – India’s Craft Beer Mecca.


 

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