3 Bottles + a Book: Harrington’s “India Style” Lager, “Secret” Altbier and Texan Cocktails

Today has gotten away from me and time is a-wasting, so let us leap straight into the bottles.

East IndiesHarrington’s East Indies Lager, a 5% alcohol “Indian style” lager from New Zealand, presents itself in what seems a beer marketer’s package, complete with obscure references (what is an Indian style lager, anyway?), vague flavour promises (“distinctively smooth”) and predictable food pairing suggestions (“enjoy with spicy foods”). So let’s see if there is anything more to it than that.

Bright gold and faintly hazy, it has a mild, dry graininess to its aroma along with mild nutty notes and some hints of fresh hay. On the palate, it’s somewhat like the lighter Saddler Lager from the same brewery, with a dry and lightly bitter body showing some caramelly malt on the start and a more bitter dryness on the finish. All in all, a decent lager with just a touch of serious hoppiness, but not something I’d associate with India per se.

More readily identifiable in its inspiration is the new Sticke Alt, part of Beau’s All-Natural Brewing’s “Wild Oats” series of special releases. This reddish-amber altbier from Ontario’s easternmost brewery is lovely to look at and interesting in its aroma, with earthy malt and woody, almost peaty notes. (This confused me at first, until I read the neck tag and found that there is some oak aging involved.) The body certainly doesn’t speak of the wood, though, or at least not much, with instead a sweet and faintly chocolaty front leading to a drier, hoppier middle, with mild notes of raisin and date and a growing bitterness, even a hint of citrus oils, that reaches a crescendo, albeit a rather reserved one, on the finish.

Designed after the famed twice-a-year “secret” (sticke) altbiers of Düsseldorf, I’d say this is a fair homage, and a nutty, earthy, greatly satisfying brew I could grow quite used to drinking.

Today’s last bottle is perhaps the best-named double or Imperial IPA ever: 6-4-3 Double IPA, from baseball-themed Ontario contract-brewer Left Field Brewery. On the nose, this hazy gold, 8.4% alcohol brew is almost sticky in its resinous aroma, with notes of slightly spicy pine and citrus oils mixing with a faint hint of rosebud and lavender. The palate is actually relatively mild in comparison, with some peachy fruit leading off and a big bowlful of citrus-accented fruit salad batting second, followed by some herbaceous notes to draw a walk and load the bases. Alas, in this case, our clean-up hitter doesn’t make the Grand Slam, but rather chips a double play ball of aggressive and unrestricted bitterness in the finish, scoring a run but not giving the beer the support it deserves. Still, what we have here is a decent enough late-night hop bomb, more than satisfying but a trifle less than impressive.

Given that there were no spirits involved in today’s bottles, I thought I should choose something boozy for the book, specifically Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State by David Alan.

Now, I actually quite like regionally-themed cocktail books, especially when they have a healthy dose of history to them. But this book strikes me more as regional for the sake of it, even to the point of hampering the reader’s efforts to make some of the drinks! For example, I give you the Texas Mai Tai:

  • 1 ounce Treaty Oak Platinum Rum
  • 1 ounce Treaty Oak Antique Rum
  • ½ ounce Paula’s Texas Orange
  • ¾ ounce Orgeat
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Fresh mint, for garnish
  • Lime wedge, for garnish

Now, I like a good Mai Tai, but without knowing the qualities of the two rums and the Paula’s Texas Orange, I’m at a loss as to what I should substitute! Flip to the Margarita recipe and I find that it’s an equivalent to Cointreau, which I had sort of figured, but should I really need to hunt for such info?

Bottom line, if you’re a serious Texas-o-phile and /or have access to a whole bunch of Texas spirits, this book might well please you. But if not, there are many superior books to guide you through the rudimentaries of mixology.

One Reply to “3 Bottles + a Book: Harrington’s “India Style” Lager, “Secret” Altbier and Texan Cocktails”

  1. Good notes on the Sticke Alt, and Beau’s is definitely hitting its stride with this flavourful, well-balanced beer. I had Uerige’s sticke once, in Baltimore, it was flown over in wooden kegs the week before for a special event and this is very close.


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