Here Are 9 Of The Best Beer Brands In India
The first time I truly appreciated the taste of beer was at Oktoberfest in Munich, where I tried some of the best lagers in the world: light in colour and body, with a crisp and refreshing flavour. On my return to India, I gravitated towards similar lagers brewed by craft beer brands such as Bira 91 and Simba. The more I tried, the more I realised that I loved experimental beers with unique flavours, like Bira 91’s Malabar Stout or Kati Patang’s Bareilly Bold.
We’ve come a long way since 1,500 BC, considered the origin of alcoholic beverages in India. The origin of beer can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, which brewed "Shara" or "Sura", made using barley and wheat. The British founded the first Indian brewery in 1757 in Kolkata. In the 19th century, many breweries were set up in India, and beer became a preferred beverage among the British and the Indian aristocracy.
After India gained independence, the government imposed high taxes on beer, which resulted in the decline of its consumption. However, with the launch of mass-produced, affordable beers such as Kingfisher and Haywards, followed by the explosion of the craft beer scene, led by microbreweries like Bira 91, the Indian beer industry has come of age. Presently, the country boasts several top-notch craft beers. Moreover, with the continuing rise in popularity of craft beers, we only see this blossoming further.
So whether you like the taste of traditional European beers or are more inclined to unconventional brews, you’re in the right place. Here are nine of the finest Indian craft beer brands.
Established in 2015, Bira 91 is credited with kickstarting the Indian artisanal craft beer scene. The name Bira 91 is an ode to 1991, the year India liberalised its economy. The brand features fun and quirky marketing targeted at young consumers. Bira 91 beers are available in several flavours, such as white, blonde, light, strong, and IPA. This brand’s IPA is one of the best in the country and has a cult following. Bira 91 Rise, a rice lager, is dry, light on the palate, packed with subtle lemon citrus aromas, and pairs well with Asian cuisines. Bira 91’s limited releases, such as the Malabar Stout and IPA Brewed with Pomelo, are also excellent.
Launched in 2013, White Owl is a leading microbrewery offering beers brewed with all-natural ingredients that are fermented using a traditional brewing process. The brand’s beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized, which sustains their natural flavours and aromas, resulting in drinks that pack a punch. White Owl retails beers in numerous styles, including Irish Ale, Pale Ale, IPA, Stout, and Porter. Their Irish Ale (Diablo) is one of the best-selling craft beers in the country. In addition, the brand is currently promoting their newest offering, Boss, which is a strong lager.
Goa Brewing Co.
Founded in 2016 by Suraj and Nikhil Shenai, Goa Brewing Co. is renowned for its unorthodox beers. This nonconformist brewery became popular with its distinctive beer offering, Eight Finger Eddie, an IPA brewed with eight different hop varieties. This beer is an intensely hoppy oat cream IPA that pays homage to the free-spirited lifestyle of the 1960s. Additional top beers by the brand include Saint & Sinner, Breakfast Cereal Stout, Wheat Ale, and People's Lager. Moreover, we highly recommend taking a tour of Goa Brewing Co.’s microbrewery, which is situated in a charming 250-year-old Indo-Portuguese villa.
Kati Patang was launched in 2018 in Delhi by Shantanu and Lata Upadhyay. The brand that brews its beers with Himalayan spring water has made a name for itself with experimental beers with an Indian twist. Their flagship beer, Zesty Amber, is a rich amber brew with a subtle caramel flavour accentuated by light citrus notes. It is complex yet very smooth on the palate. In 2021, Kati Patang launched a strong lager beer, Bareilly Bold. This light-bodied yet bold brew features earthy notes of the spring Indian flower palash.
Offered by DeVans Brewery, Six Fields is an award-winning Belgian-style wheat beer. Their primary offering is the Six Fields Blanche, a light-coloured Belgian-style brew that is smooth, zesty, easy to drink, and has nuances of orange and coriander. This beer is a fantastic introductory brew for non-beer drinkers. Six Fields’ beers are perfect for a humid summer day!
Simba was the first Indian microbrewery to introduce bottled stout. The brewery’s Wit, Lager, and Strong are also crowd favorites. Simba’s stout has a dark brown appearance and a rich, roasted flavour with hints of chocolate and coffee. Their witbier has a cloudy appearance and a slightly tart taste, with a touch of orange peel and subtle hints of lemongrass. Simba’s beers are brewed with natural ingredients, including malted barley, hops, yeast, and water.??
One of the newest craft breweries, MAKA di crafts unconventional beers. This Goa-based brand’s best beers include the Bavarian Keller, Belgian Blanche, Honey Ale, and Belgian Tripel. The Belgian Tripel is an ale crafted in partnership with Lupulus Brasserie in Belgium. The Belgian Blanche has notes of coriander and cumin, which are sourced from Karnataka and Maharashtra. Furthermore, MAKA di’s Bavarian Keller is a unique unfiltered beer that follows the ‘Reinheitsgebot’, the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, which allows only water, hops, malts, and yeast to be utilised in brewing.??
BeeYoung is a craft Indian beer brand. It was introduced in 2021 by Kimaya Himalayan Beverages LLP, one of the most well-known companies in the Indian beer scene. BeeYoung’s signature beer is the BeeYoung Crafted Strong Beer, made using imported hops and malts. This beer has an alcohol content of 7.2% and a strong hoppy flavour with a citrus aroma. We also love its Instagram-worthy, vibrant yellow packaging!??
The name Susegado is Portuguese for peace. This microbrewery was established in 2015 by two friends, Aditya Challa and Nikhil Bhandari, who wanted to create a beer that reflected the laid-back lifestyle of Goa. Aditya Challa learned to brew in Scotland and co-founded Singapore’s first microbrewery before moving to Goa. The brewery's offerings include English Ale, Vanilla Porter, American IPA, Dortmund Lager, and Kokum Gose. Our favourite is the Kokum Gose, brewed with kokum, a sour fruit native to Goa. This distinctive brew is perfectly tart, light, and refreshing!??