Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  King’s beer comes to Mumbai

King’s is much more than just a light beer, it’s an open invitation to the Goa state of mind. Whether you frequent the coastal paradise for work or pleasure, there’s no escaping the charms of Assolda-based Impala Distillery & Brewery Ltd’s King’s Black Label Premium Pilsner, the distinctively stubby, dimpled, 325ml brown bottle. And no matter what you think of its simple contents (water, malt, maize flakes and East European hops), your first sip makes you the sunshine state’s loyal lover. With a King’s in hand, you can point and laugh at honeymooning couples and tourists who still dine at Brittos on Baga. There will be nothing mainstream on your itinerary once you’ve downed your first pint.

The latest news of King’s launching in Mumbai on Monday (we called the brewery to confirm it) could either kill or resuscitate my love-hate relationship with the beer.

The King’s appeal can be attributed to four factors. First, its exclusivity, since it’s available only in Goa—currently at stake as the brewery’s owners plan to launch it in Mumbai next week. The second is its ability to transform from a below-average beer to a superlative beachside companion when served chilled. Most lagers taste better when served ice-cold. There is a direct correlation between higher carbonation at a lower temperature of the beer and the drinker’s ability to drink more of that beer. The last is the sense of community you get from being a regular King’s drinker, just like you would if you own a Harley-Davidson motorbike or an iPhone. And finally, it is much more accessible than feni, Goa’s other popular home-brewed spirit.

My first encounter with the brewski took place exactly six years ago, on my second trip to Goa to attend a cousin’s “destination" wedding. As a teenager growing up in Mumbai, the only other time I visited the neighbouring state was for my class x field trip, during the course of which the only alcohol I downed was India’s favourite alcopop, Bacardi Breezer.

On my sophomore adventure, I spent the first two days in Goa with a friend’s uncle in Panaji drinking Kingfisher at Dona Paula and Mum’s Kitchen before a cousin picked me up to take me to the “cooler" part of north Goa—Calangute. To celebrate the family reunion, he stopped his rental Honda Activa at a roadside chemist somewhere between Baga and Calangute to buy beers. Obviously impressed with his knowledge of hidden beer shops in the state, I joined him on the shopping spree. When he paid just 100 for five bottles of King’s, I first turned up my nose at his “cheap" taste but ended up hiccupping on an empty beach just an hour later with all five empty bottles by my side and a thirst for more of this light and refreshing lager.

I’ve been going back to Goa every monsoon since but it took just three consecutive annual vacations to different parts of Goa for me to realize that maybe I am in love with the idea of King’s and not the beer itself.

On our first return trip, my sister, some cousins and I were still smitten by the thought of getting a beer bucket with half a dozen King’s for breakfast at Infantaria at Calangute for just 100. After all, drinking King’s helped us save tons on the holiday budget. The following year, I ran away from home with a boyfriend and once again, King’s was the tipple of choice—our love of King’s and all things left of centre is what brought us closer together in the first place. Plus, saving on alcohol again meant we could splurge on five-star hotel breakfasts and go-karting races at Arpora.

This trip also came close on the heels of a family vacation to the land of great beer—Germany. With a more sophisticated palate now, I began to choose imported beer over King’s after the first few days of our week-long getaway. At first it seemed that like the more I fought with my real-life lover, the more distant I grew from King’s. I began to wonder if I was drinking other drinks only to make a point about how different my boyfriend and I were, but by the time I returned home, my love affair with King’s (and the boy) turned torrid.

On my most recent trip to Goa this March for a friend’s bachelorette, my girlfriends and I drank nothing but Carlsberg. In our defence, our first celebratory drink outside the airport was still King’s, but since it now costs almost as much (or just 15-20 less) than the Danish alternative, there was no reason for us buy any more of the local brew.

When I find my friends swapping their Kingfishers for King’s at a local bar, I fondly remember how I introduced so many of them to the charms of this brewed-in-Goa, “small-batch" pilsner before they discovered “craft beer" in the city on their own, and how King’s showed me the slightly more alternative side of Goa. But mostly importantly, I will feel a sense of pride in knowing that a King’s is best enjoyed ice-cold with the wind in my hair and sand at my feet at a not-so-hidden, but “underground" enough beach, within walking distance from my branded five-star resort in south Goa.

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