Jan 13

Newton Supermarket Candolim, now limited beer offers of imports, only locally brewedBeer 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

Choice of imported beers in Luwande Supermarket CandolimThat’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.

How to get Glycerine out of a Indian BeerYou 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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written by Chris



24 Responses to “The Secret of getting pure Beer in Goa”

  1. JurgenNo Gravatar ITALY Says:

    Great, so you finally tried the old Lonely Planet trick… :)
    How about hangovers with this purified method? I remember getting big headaches the morning after an excessive glycerine beer drinking night…

  2. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Oh yeah, the trick was in the Lonely Planet? Didn’t know that. Regarding hangovers, luckily never had one so far here, but then I don’t drink so much these days anymore. Although they have some nice offers here, 5 Kings or 5 Fosters for only Rs.100 in Infantaria Restaurant in Calangute/Baga. In December it was even 6 bottles for Rs 100. That’s only about 2 Dollars. But inflation probably looms everywhere. ;-)

    By the way, I found another site with some more information regarding the glycerine additives, it can be found here. Interesting read.

  3. jimNo Gravatar VIET NAM Says:

    what if you’ve got cans???

  4. JurgenNo Gravatar ITALY Says:

    Yeah, it’s been in the Lonely Planet and I suggested it already a couple of months ago here in your original post #17 , don’t you remember? :-)

  5. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Jim, the cans of local brew include glycerine as well, no difference here to the bottles. Only when imported, then not.

    Jurgen, guess I’m simply getting old. ;-)

  6. Buy Flowers OnlineNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    :-? Great Man,,, i was not aware about refining the glycerine. I will definitely use this trick at the time when i drink.

  7. Teeth WhitenerNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    ;;) This procedure is really good. There is mixing in everything and i don’t know that how much this glycerine is effective for our heath..??

  8. Traveler DarrenNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Is Kings the beer in the dark (maybe black) bottle? I am sure that didn’t have glycerine in when I was visiting Goa a few years ago. It’s such a shame that they add the nasty stuff. The same happens in Nepal as well.

  9. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Yup, that’s Kings. Small very dark-brown bottle with black label. Sorry to disappoint you, but this one has now plenty of glycerine it it. Maybe they changed the formula?

    One more thing I found out about Kingfisher: the small 330 ml bottles (bottled in Bangalore) have much less glycerine than the big 660 ml ones (forgot where they bottle this one). The difference is really dramatic, when you drink a small one and a big one right-after, it tastes like from 2 completely different planets. So if in doubt and without water glass, the small Kingfisher is better tolerable. :-?

  10. Traveler DarrenNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Probably less glycerine in the smaller Kingfisher bottles as they are quicker to chill. Shame about Kings….. I hope you’re enjoying Goa. Am off to Thailand, and then Indonesia in 3 weeks.

  11. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Sounds like a great holiday, Traveler Darren. Enjoy your trip and plenty of Beer Chang and Bintang! :D

    And yes, so far Goa is alright, needed a bit longer to adjust than other (South East Asian) countries, but it’s possible to survive here in an easy-going, affordable way.

  12. MirkoNo Gravatar SINGAPORE Says:

    Hi Chris, interesting that I find this glycerine “experiment” on your blog. Now this is one of those stories that you tell each other after having 3 or more large Changs in Thailand or elsewhere! But I didn’t expect it to be on your blog. This has got to do nothing with separating the glycerine from the beer (but no doubt that some breweries add it to their beer). Rather the osmotic pressure is mixing the water in the glass with the beer. Result: your beer becomes watery and thus might even taste better. You would get the same result with adding ice cubes (which is what the guy in the link you provided is doing). Think about it ;) cheers, mirko

  13. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Maybe Mirko. I’m certainly no expert in chemistry. The only thing I see, is that the bottle is actually more empty and the glass more full after the above procedure. The taste of the beer in the bottle is way better and it for sure doesn’t taste thinner.

    So I would say – if at all – not much water went into the bottle by osmotic pressure. And ice cubes in a beer have a thinning effect, but this procedure has not.

    And yeah, I tried it when being sober. :D

  14. johnNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    The enthusiasm; vigour and vitality that this place has is truly unparalleled. My friend went crazy for Hayward beer.

  15. DaveNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Actually, glycerine is completely soluble in water (and ethanol) at normal temperature and pressure. See Figure 3:

    http://webserver.dmt.upm.es/~isidoro/bk3/c07sol/Solution%20properties.htm

    In other words, the glycerine isn’t sitting in a layer at the bottom of the bottle; it’s dissolved in the beer. All you’re doing with the “Lonely Planet trick” is dumping out some of your beer and diluting what’s left.

  16. Glycerine as a preservative in tropical beer. - Home Brew Forums UNITED STATES Says:

    [...] Glycerine as a preservative in tropical beer. Wasn't sure where to post this so here it is as it relates to beer available commercially in India. This is the first time I have come across the mention of glycerin to "preserve" beer. Also I am scratching my head about the "method to remove glycerin" – isn't glycerin fully miscible in an aqueous solution? http://www.nomad4ever.com/2009/01/13/the-secret-of-getting-pure-beer-in-goa/ [...]

  17. goksNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    i have met quite a few brewmasters in India and broad and they tell me its a misnomer that glycerine is used in making beer.. a bio-chemist once told me glycerine is however generated during the initial fermenation process but is mostly further broken down during downward process.. also the heavy viscocity that you see when beer in dipped in water is due to the fact that beer body is heavier than water :)

  18. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    goks, what did those brewmasters say what they use instead of glycerine then? Because all beers in India have a similar smooth-bitter side or aftertaste. You don’t have that affect in other countries, so there must be something added to the beer.

  19. JamesNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    My Keralan friend loves Marstons Pedigree- he says it’s pure as the driven snow compared to beers back home.
    In Kerala beer is often served in teapots to circumvent strict state licensing laws- is it polite under these circumstances to request “no glycerine”?

  20. ThomasNo Gravatar TAIWAN Says:

    I almost always know when the beer has preservatives, because I get an allergic reaction. Thank you very much for the info on how to separate the glycerin from the beer.

  21. tonyNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Your first and fifth paragraphs are strangely contradictory. The bottles are labelled for sale in goa only as India maintains a maximum selling price policy and each state has its own tax system therefore as you correctly state Goa’s low tax is reflected in the price printed on the bottle. The for sale in Goa only label is to prevent an inter state black market trade. Glycerols are added to all beers throughout the tropics to prevent over fermentation due to the heat. If your theory is true then why is truly imported booze without any added Glycerol so much more expensive in high tax states than in a low tax state such as Goa.
    Cheers.

  22. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hi tony, it might look contradictory, but as everyone who’ve been to Goa will tell you, beer is unfortunately not pure there. You can try it for yourself, when you are there. Drink a few bottles of different brands and you will notice that they all taste very similar from the additives. The import/tax system has nothing to do with it.

  23. amitNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    hey, m in goa from 27th for a week, ny one wants to join??

    hey do temme some place to njoy nightlyf other then tito’s…

    cheers!!!

  24. DougNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    how long has King’s Black Label Pilsner been made in Goa?

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