I Hate Craft Beer and I Cannot Lie

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I Hate Craft Beer and I Cannot Lie

Illustration: Mandar Mhaskar

I

thought I hated beer.

My first experience with total blackout drunkenness happened when two days before my 15th birthday, I came into possession of a princely sum of 500 rupees. I decided to throw an early birthday party by buying a case of London Pilsner Strong beer. Priced at 55 bucks a bottle, a case cost 500 bucks, perfect for bingeing on a budget. My parents were at a relative’s house, leaving me lord and master of our 100-sq-foot kingdom. I got to work, inviting the four friends I had and acquiring cigarettes and some pornography. We were going to party like it was 2005.

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I can’t remember when it happened. My usually super accurate memory is fuzzy as heck when it comes to this particular moment – but it must have been during the climax of a porno named Short Skirts Wide Girths or some such that I realised that I had somehow ended up in a puddle of piss, with half my face caked in vomit. I’d thrown up on my parents’ bed and the sofa. My head felt like it was constantly being kicked around. I felt, for the first time in my life, the urge to simply stop existing. Long story short, my parents came home to furniture that looked like an early Jackson Pollock painting and me shivering under a bedsheet like the runt I was. Beating ensued, my meagre allowance of ₹50 a week was rescinded. Beer did it and I hated beer for it.

By 17, beer began to have the same effect on me as a possible date telling me, straight off the bat, that she’s got a mild case of chlamydia. I’d begun to mock the very notion of drinking beer and made fun of people who did. Beer was the swill children and pregnant women drank. I was too classy for that shit.

My friends, eternally empathetic to my plight, then invited me into the world of craft beer. There I discovered what true hate is.

Craft beer comes to you from “microbreweries”, which are essentially swagged-up 1980’s filmi daaru ki bhattis with nuclear reactor-esque fermentation tanks. The names of the beers will usually be the conjunction of two random words, one of which has to be an animal’s name, such as Queefing Koala or Pandering Anteater or Howling Chinkara.

And you, dear paying customer, you just paid a premium for what is essentially mango-flavoured water.

These places usually feature a three-page-long beer menu in utter seriousness, with options like chocolate oatmeal stout. The more serious players will sometimes name the beers after women. So you could be presented with a menu that lists names such as “Maria”, “Preeti”, and “Mahima”, all of whom the “brewmaster” never got past second base with. Hopefully one of them walks into this bar, sees this tribute to herself, and then proceeds to run into the arms of the “brewmaster”, ignoring his yeasty, hops-scented BO, and proceeds to rock his world in the back. All this while men with man buns, and generic 2017 “man looks”, discuss the merits of a Kolsch versus a Hefeweizen, while looking pensive in a corner and earnestly puffing on a vape.

It wholly escapes them that they are all Indian, not beer-chugging, lederhosen-wearing Germans, who wouldn’t know a Berliner Weisse from an Eisebock if it came and kicked them in the ass. In the land of WEH and JVLR, these are the folks who think they’re on the Autobahn.

Some of these people will be maintaining little diaries with tasting notes on their favourite craft beer like it’s a 100-year-old wine that has taken the work of generations to arrive at your table instead of being bubbled up near the bathroom behind you with water from septic tanks of the city.

The craft-beer drinker is deeply appalled by words such as Kingfisher and Budweiser, and people who drink such mass-produced brews that stink of rampant consumerism. Craft beer for them, therefore becomes a means of sticking it to the man. A form of silent, foamy protest, a way to show the world we’re willing to fight for better quality. When you look at pictures of protest on the internet, you’ve got self-immolating monks, that dude at Tiananmen Square who stared down a tank, the hippie chick placing a flower down the barrel of a loaded gun. And then there is the indie-music-loving, jhola-toting, Murakami-reading hipster who probably drinks craft brew at his favourite “brewpub” or “microbrewery” or “gastropub” as a form of silent protest out of what once used to be a Horlicks jar.

It’s your life at the end of it all, you can choose to drink craft beer, root beer, or any other foamy alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink that merits multiple trips to the men’s (or women’s) room. You’re probably doing it because you believe that this beer is made in small batches, locally, and is better. That’s not always the case.

All you need to remember is, the beer you’re drinking, and whose hoppy finish and deep caramel top note you’re probably pontificating about, is at best, a product that has stemmed from one dudebro saying to another, “Bro we’re out of ideas, wanna try adding those leftover mango peels to the tank?” The other guy goes, “Yeah bro, it’s sustainable, waste negative, and is more biodynamic.” All of which is pretence-ese for “Aam ka chilka daal be bhenc**d, paisa bachega.”

And you, dear paying customer, you just paid a premium for what is essentially mango-flavoured water – probably the same water your bai used for last night’s dal – with hops and maybe barley. All of this was likely sourced from the same place Budweiser and Kingfisher buy their stuff from and then fermented with a strain of yeast from halfway around the world. So the next time you crave a “craft beer”, you might as well just go drink a pint of dishwater. It may not be as classy, but it’ll probably taste better.

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