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Friday, 28 September 2007

Counterfeit Beer!!

Always avoid cheap beer that is readily available on the stands near railway stations in India. Judging by the number of small shops full of neatly stacked colourful beer bottles, I am guessing there are quite a few.

A sign that reads rock bottom prices enticed me towards one such stall conveniently located to the railway station gate. The vendor was more than enthusiastic to open up a bottle, even though I just happened to inquire upon the types of beer he had. So, I ended up with a bottle of beer that I supposedly ordered. Moreso, it was shoved into my hands along with a plastic cup and I am guessing I was supposed to sit on a plastic stool near the road and start drinking it all by myself.

I saw more people quietly sipping the brew and I said to myself, "What the heck, I am a foreigner here!" and poured myself a drink only to find the brew has no lather in it. On taking a sip, I realised that the brew had a distinctly watered down taste. I took another gulp just to reconfirm myself, and asked the guy what percentage of alcohol this beer had. He gleefully answered, "2 percent." I took just one sip more, trying to find a hint of the stellar taste of beer that I felt accustomed to.

A lightning bulb struck; I checked the label -it read "Thundervolt" and then I slowly read out the ingredients on the back label. This is when the moment of revelation hit me. The brew, to be precise 650 millimetres of it contained -Citric acid, sugar and carbonated water. I reread the label just in case I missed out the important ingredients like hops, barley or malt. Sadly I saw none.

My friend, I had just been had. I paid about INR 35 (roughly the equivalent to the US dollar) for water that may not even have been boiled before bottling. Bottles of "Keemfisher" and "Haward's 5000" were also being sold, both brands knockoffs of popular beer brands "Kingfisher" and "Haywards 5000".

Morale of the story: Never ever go beer tasting in unchartered territory!!


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