Beer in Goa is a strange creature. As observed before, most local brews here taste all similar due to preservatives added to ensure a longer shelf life in the tropics.
Unfortunately this spoils the taste of a beer completely, even for normal beer drinkers with more insensitive tongues.
Luckily there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can buy unspiked beer in Goa, if you know where. And for the adventurous thirsty traveler, there is even a method to separate beer and preservatives from each other.
Let’s first clarify, that all local and foreign brands which are *brewed in Goa* carry glycerine as a preservative.
Correction, most aren’t actually brewed in Goa, but in Maharashtra, the neighboring state. Some of the Kingfisher is brewed in Bangalore. But they are only allowed for sale in Goa, as Goa has one of the lowest alcohol taxes of India.
Beer and other spirits are usually much more expensive in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi or elsewhere in the country.
Glycerine-spiked Beer is the standard in Goa
So far in my 2-month-lasting quest to find a pure beer, here are the common brands, you can find everywhere all around Goa. So far I tried:
- Kings (local brand)
- Kingfisher (local brand)
- Kingfisher Strong (local brand)
- Belo (local brand, very light)
- Budweiser (American-owned)
- Tiger (Singapore-owned)
- Fosters (Australian-owned)
- Haywards 5000 (SABMiller-owned)
There is no difference if you buy small bottles, the larger ones or even tap beer of local brews. If you buy any of the above brands in a shop, beach shack or restaurant – it’s all similar and they are all locally brewed. When produced with the label “For Sale in Goa only’ they all use Glycerine as a preservative.
So what to do?
As of today, I can see only 2 options to get unspiked beer in Goa.
1. Buy imported Beer
That’s the easiest, yet slighly more costly way. Imported Beer is available in many supermarkets or convenience stores around Goa. Although most of the imported beers come rather canned than bottled.
Initially I was about to especially recommend Newton Supermarket in Candolim. It’s very popular with tourists and Expats alike and until recently, they had a great selection of imported beers from over a dozen countries for reasonable prices (around Rs 50-80 per small can). I don’t know what happened. Maybe most people felt similar about glycerine and bought more imports than the local brews.
So when I checked back to take a picture of their broad offer (above), things looked different now.
Besides pricey Corona (Mexico), Leffe (from Belgium), San Miguel (the beer of the Philippine), Becks (Germany, actually the most un-German beer in my eyes) and Hoegaarden (white beer from Belgium) – all in bottles – most canned (and therefore cheaper) versions of imported beer have all but disappeared.
See the upper-right part of the 1st picture to the left (click on the picture to see a bigger version).
The middle and lower part now only have cans and bottles of the local brews – Kingfisher Draught, Fosters, Haywards 5000, normal Kingfisher, Carlsberg, Tiger, Budweiser and Kings.
Luckily – other supermarkets still sell most of the cheaper or no-name imported brands. Some of the cheaper beer sold there are Oranjeboom, Meister, Phoenix, Royal Dutch, Anchor (see 2nd picture to the right). Most of them taste rather good and you don’t have to deal with glycerine.
2. Separate Beer and Glycerine manually
There is another way to get your favorite juice unspiked. See the step-by-step instructions to the right.
You will need a half-full glass of water and your bottle of local brew (Figure 1).
Bring both close together in a 45 degree angle each (Figure 2). Now comes the trickiest part, just be quick to do it. Turn the bottle upside down into the glass (Figure 3) and hold it just below the water surface for a while (Figure 4).
The glycerine is in compressed form in the beer, but luckily it is heavier than water. So it will slowly sink through the neck of the bottle into the glass below. You will notice the leaving glycerine at the bottle opening as a thick, wobbling substance, looking similar to a sugar solution (Figure 5).
The whole exercise will take about 30 seconds.
After the successful experiment, your water glass will be fuller than before and your bottle will have lost about one quarter to a third of its content.
But the beer tastes better now, most of the bitter aftertaste is gone.
Although traces still can be felt, it gives a much better and cleaner experience than with the full glycerine.
Voila! Enjoy your drink!
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