When Bina and Raj Sharma started serving Indian meals to Mainers at Brunswick’s Bombay Mahal within the early Nineties, they needed to drive to Boston or New York to get the components. Suppliers merely didn’t view Maine as a viable market. Indian-made beers, like Taj Mahal or Kingfisher, have been equally troublesome to wrangle. At this time, the Sharmas now not must endure these lengthy journeys to make their dishes, they usually can get beer specifically designed to enrich their meals in state, because of their sons, Van and Sumit.
Working with Maine brewing legend Alan Pugsley, the youthful Sharmas crafted Rupee, a beer particularly designed to pair with the spicy, hearty delicacies of India. It’s a helles lager made with malted barley, rice and maize (typical of Indian beers), and three sorts of hops – Hallertau, Saaz and Saphir. Golden-colored and medium-bodied, its aromas are fruity and earthy. The sweetness of the malt and corn is tamed by the hops, offering a balanced end. Rupee’s full mouthfeel distinguishes it from extra effervescent, mass-produced Indian lagers. And at 4.75% ABV, it’s made for “simple quaffing,” as Pugsley places it.
Pugsley is British by beginning, and thus is not any stranger to Indian meals. When Van and Sumit have been searching for a brewer to assist them develop their beer, they related with Pugsley, who lives down the road from their mother and father’ residence.
“What Tex-Mex is to America, Indian delicacies is to the UK,” Van Sharma notes, and so a British brewer would know “what we have been making an attempt to do with beer and curry.” Pugsley can be, as Van places it, a “legend within the beer enviornment.” Certainly, he was there on the very introduction of craft beer in Maine as the unique head brewer at D.L. Geary Brewing Firm (which served its first beer 35 years in the past, virtually to the day), and shortly thereafter was a co-founder of Shipyard Brewing Co.
Pugsley joined the Sharmas on the household restaurant, the place they experimented with a spread of beers and Indian meals of various types and spice ranges. After nailing down the recipe, they went searching for a accomplice to contract-brew the beer in Maine. This proved difficult, nonetheless, due to the pandemic. In the end, they discovered a keen accomplice in Boston’s Dorchester Brewing, which contract-brews extensively.
The Sharmas named their beer after the foreign money of India as a result of it “helped inform the story we needed to inform,” aligned with “the imaginative and prescient we had for creating an Indian beverage model, which is a part of our tradition.”
They’ve world ambitions for his or her beer, befitting the household’s world historical past. The brothers keep in mind moments from their childhood, visiting their Punjabi grandfather, Pritam-Dass Sharma, a part of a four-generation farming household in India and a homebrewer of rice- and maize-based alcohol. Their father, Raj, grew up in India; their mom, Bina, hails from Kenya. After intervals residing in Cologne and London, they moved to Maine after visiting a household good friend right here, having been impressed by “the pure magnificence and in addition heat of the folks,” based on Van.
However rising up in Maine within the Nineties wasn’t all the time simple for the brothers. “Being the one Indian youngsters in class had its ups and downs,” he recollects. “Individuals had bother saying our names and confused us for being Native American Indians, as you study native Indian tribes in elementary faculty throughout that age.” The truth that “our household owned Indian eating places made us stick out much more.”
The brothers attended school in Boston. Sumit, now 28, then moved to Colombia, the place he taught English, earlier than relocating to Melbourne, Australia, on the onset of the COVID pandemic. Van, 31, lived in the UK for almost eight years, working in gross sales and with a London-based restaurant and lodge startup. Their mother and father had been hoping they’d return to Maine, and through the pandemic, the brothers obliged. Van remembers serving to his brother ebook one of many final flights from Australia earlier than its borders have been closed.
As soon as again in Maine, the brothers had the chance to pursue this concept – tailoring a beer particularly for Indian delicacies – that they’d been harboring for a while. They returned to a state that was extra racially various than the one they’d left and awash in craft beer (although that racial variety is barely evidenced within the craft beer world, significantly in Maine).
With age, in addition they had acquired a distinct perspective of their very own historical past. “As you become old,” Van observes, “you turn out to be far more pleased with your origin story.”
For the Sharmas, it’s a narrative that’s without delay world and native, anchored in Maine, the place as of this fall you will discover Rupee at beverage shops and Indian eating places throughout. And like several beer, Rupee expresses an invisible historic geography, stretching throughout area and time: a beer impressed by German brewing custom and Punjabi homebrew, devised with a British-Mainer, and designed for Indian meals.
Ben Lisle is an assistant professor of American Research at Colby School. He lives among the many breweries in Portland’s East Bayside, the place he writes about cultural historical past, city geography, and craft beer tradition. Attain him on Twitter at @bdlisle.