The freshest beer made by Doollaly, available at The First Brewhouse, is an English bitter that’s not really English. The main flavour is essentially Indian — it’s jaggery! Unlike other beers on tap here, this jaggery ale doesn’t come from a brew master or from a traditional recipe, but from Anuj Mundi — a beer enthusiast, home brewer and just another Punekar.
|Anuj Mundi with his Jaggery Ale
Oliver Schauf, co-founder of and brew master at Doolally, is always ready to make a uniquely Indian beer. “I belong to an Indian craft brewery. It’s not my job to copy classical Western brews, but to represent an aspect of India in a bottle,” he says. Anuj has a similar philosophy. “I wanted to use ingredients that are common in Indian cooking, but radical in beer making,” he said.
So, when Anuj went over to the brewery with a home brewed jaggery ale, they decided to collaborate.
Anuj made another small batch and they all had a tasting session to decide which flavours to enhance or suppress. “It’s not that easy to convert a home brew recipe to one for 700 litres — if you make one good cup of tea for yourself, it doesn’t mean you can make the same for 5,000 people,” explained Oliver, simply.
When they finally successfully convert the formula and get all the right ingredients together, Anuj spent the day at Doolally making the beer.
Anuj started home brewing while working in Silicon Valley, after he realised the need for a hobby to balance out his professional life. “My wife and I chanced upon a home brew shop, this one time. We browsed around there and found enough items to make our first batch of beer, a Dark German Ale. This was in December 2006,” he said.
|Doolaly founders Prateik, Oliver and Suketu (L to R)
Anuj started brewing more and more, visiting breweries, reading literature — the hobby evolved. “We then decided to come back to India. I was then 2009… we quit our jobs and returned. The brewery in Pune launched just a few months after that and I went to meet the guys. We chatted, became friends and I started home brewing again… and experimenting.”
“I made an ‘English bitter’ — which is one of the best beers for Indian tastes and climate. Though we have only lagers here now, English bitters used to be as easily available at one point of time.
Post World War II, after the German Industrial Revolution, manufacturers of beer found German lagers much more efficient to produce on a large scale. Once all the big breweries started making only lagers, it became something of an icon for most beer drinkers.
Adds Anuj, “I added gud (jaggery) to my brew of English bitter. It’s like the kadgud we have during the festival of Makar Sankranti, where the earthy flavour of jaggery balances out the bitterness of the neem.
The combination turned into a very nice beer! I told Oliver and the others at the brewery that they just had to try it. They did and we decided to get together.” Now, beer enthusiasts can head to The First Brewhouse to lap up this fusion-style brew.
“As a a crafts brewer I want to create beers that are interesting in the way they look and taste, and also tell a little story,” says Oliver. “Globally, crafts brewers collaborate closely with home brewers. It’s a nice thing to provide malt, share recipes and techniques.
But it must also be noted that hobby brewers are at the very edge when it comes to innovation. I need to make beers and then sell them. A home brewer just needs to figure out whether something will work. They really experiment! As a result, some home brews have become huge brands in the US.”
He added, “I hope more people take up this fringe hobby and I can work with more enthusiasts. At Doolally, we want to provide support and collaborate to make great beers!”
The Jaggery Ale has a deep amber, almost ruby like color and an exceptionally full-bodied, complex character, imparted by its star ingredient – Kolhapur jaggery. Generous quantities of noble hops (an element used to ‘stabilise’ a brew) like ‘Saaz’, combined with the tropical effervescence of jaggery gives the pale ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor.
A gulp, and the earthy aromas and warmth of alcohol on your palate transports you to Cane Sugar plantations – you are unfortunately transported back as soon as the clean and bitter hop character overcomes your palate.
Color: deep amber/ ruby
Mouthfeel: full bodied, creamy, warm, clean hop bitterness
Nose: earthy, caramel, molasses