Blast with Beer

With several fun activities designed around it,the beverage is becoming popular with all age groups

Written by Afsha Khan | Published:May 21, 2012 1:37 am

With several fun activities designed around it,the beverage is becoming popular with all age groups

Ketaki Shah doesn’t know if she’s a runner with a drinking problem,or a drinker with a running problem. But the 55-year-old doesn’t care to get to the root of it since she enjoys both these facets of her fun-loving personality. She,however,knows that it began in 1993 when she and her husband,Shailesh,read about the ‘Hash House Harriers’ — a concept that was formulated in 1938 by “bored British soldiers” in Malaysia who met for runs followed by beers at a bar called the Hash House. The couple found the concept fascinating. They started a similar club in Mumbai that year.

Now,the club has over 250 people on their mailing list,the oldest being an 85-year-old,while the youngest is only eight. The group meets on every other Sunday in different parts of the city as well as on the outskirts for runs as long as 10 km. “There’s nothing like a chilled glass of beer after a gruelling run. You don’t have to be an athlete,or a drinker to join the group,” says Shah,who is known as the “Hash Mistress” on the group’s website.

Today,the Hashers are known to be one of the first groups in India to follow this ritual around beer-drinking. However,over the last two years,they have found company in similar activities. Clubs,restaurants and five-star hotels have started hosting Oktoberfest spin-offs. Often the months of October and November are spent sampling different beers. Recently,Bistro Grill,Juhu,started Beer Bladder Blast on Fridays where groups are given unlimited beer for Rs 550 until one of the members needs to use the restroom. Add to this the Beer Olympics at Pune’s micro-brewery Doolally last weekend where winners of games such as beer pong,beer relay and beer chugging were crowned.

“Beer is a casual beverage that has been popularised in pop culture—especially movies—as a fun drink,” says Suketu Talekar,one of the co-founders of Doolally which saw a turn-out of over 500 people for the Beer Olympics. “You can take anything from board games,even the three-legged race,and throw beer in. Suddenly,it becomes a lot more interesting.”

Restaurants too are coming up with packages around beer that offer something more interesting than ‘Happy Hour’ prices. Bistro Grill’s Beer Bladder Blast has met with great response. “You’d be surprised how many people are passionate about this concept. It helps us get the crowds between 7.30 pm and 9 pm,” says Vikram Bawa,the owner of Bistro Grill.

Fun activities apart,beer spells series business for restaurants and hotels. Taj Lands End’s current promotion of international beers—Brewery Voyage—has takers among those looking to sample stouts,ales and trappist varieties. The first Mumbai International Beer Festival in 2011,saw people turn up for lessons in brewing their own beer,taking part in a themed quiz and of course,sampling different varieties of the beverage. The beer tasting sessions at Woodside,Andheri,in association with All Things Nice that helps beer lovers cover the finer points of beer — history,trivia and brewing techniques— on a monthly basis.

“Beer as a beverage appeals to a lot of people in India. Because of Indian climate,it’s a great drink to have on a hot day,” says Pankil Shah,co-owner of Woodside franchise that hosts an annual beer and burger festival around July. “That apart,there are a lot more variety in domestic and imported beer markets,people know that there’s a lot more to the drink and want to learn about it.”

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