I recently met Moses Chowdhury, the Head Brewer of the Fakir Brewing Company, from Norfolk in East Anglia.
Moses explained that he and a friend set up ‘Fakir’ with a plan to develop an Indian Real Ale – does that make it an IRA to go with the various IPAs and APAs?
He wanted a real ale that would complement Indian food.
I’ve discussed this in the past here at The Brewclub. Most Brits drink Lager with their Biryanis, it’s tradition. But IPAs work a storm with a curry, and given that there are around 10,000 Indian Restaurants in the UK – serving some two and a half million customers each week – it’s a market worth targeting.
You will, of course, be aware that a Fakir is an Indian holy man, or shaman someone who – as the brewery’s website here would have it – ‘devotes their life to spiritual discovery’, that’s as may be, it’s still a tricky beer to order politely.
Their first brew, ‘Old Fakir’s Gold’ is brewed with a combination of pale malts, Moses described the recipe as using “a small amount of Pilgrim for bittering, then a combination of Cluster, Galaxy and Stella as aroma hops. Cluster giving a citrusy tone, while Stella and Galaxy provide tropical fruity characters.” He describes it as “a golden ale with a delicate citrus-grapefruit aroma”.
Okay, so based on that recipe, I braced myself for a ‘hop bomb’.
It pours a hazy, peach colour, slightly cloudy. There’s no head or lacing to speak of, and not much nose, but I guess when your target market is curry-eaters, you’re not playing for subtlety.
And that’s evident in the flavour. This is indeed a hop-bomb! It’s not subtle; I don’t think it could even spell subtle. This beer takes you out into the car-park and beats you about the head with its hoppiness.
It’s out there in the car park now picking a fight with Brewdog’s Punk IPA!
Oh, and don’t forget the 5.5% alcohol, this is NOT a session beer – if you value your brain cells.
Okay, after a few sips your stunned palate starts to differentiate other flavours, behind the hoppy bitterness there is grapefruit to the fore, with maybe peach lurking in the background, but probably scared to come out.
I can see this working well alongside a hot curry; it’s not really a beer for enjoying on the patio in the sunshine, but with something hot, maybe a Madras or a Vindaloo, those intense hops would cut through the heat of the meals. It would probably overpower anything less potent than a Madras, but since that’s my personal preference, that’ll do.
Old Fakir are a young brewery, and their beer is already widely stocked in Indian restaurants in East Anglia, I wish them well, and look forward to trying their next brews.