Othe Desi Beer Co.‘s Dishoom! IPA takes its name from the Indian slang word for the sound of a punch in a Bollywood movie. This is appropriate, because the beer packs a touch of flavor. Light, thirst-quenching tropical flavors of mango, cantaloupe and, most importantly, coconut combine with a backbone of hop bitterness, creating an immediately pleasant and distinctive brew. I fell in love on the first sip.
Bringing distinct flavors to beer is part of what inspired owner and brewer Ravi Patel to launch Other Desi Beer Co. in 2019. “I’m South Asian and not many of us brew beer. I only found about six, ”he says. “The idea when I started was that I wanted something that represents me and my culture. I try to incorporate some kind of aroma from my childhood or now that I enjoy – lots of candy, fruit. or spices.
Patel beers are brewed under contract to Thimble Island Brewing Company in Branford and distributed statewide. A specialty beer, 3 Ranis (“queens” in Hindi) is a sour beer made from hibiscus and guava. “I love guava. It’s one of my favorite foods since I was little, and I really wanted to create something unique with it, ”he says. A stout specialty, High Chai, puts the flavor of the chai at the forefront. It’s also brewed with Parle-G cookies, which Patel describes as a tea cookie, and it’s a practice that Patel says is unique to his operation.
While craft beer is booming in India, even the breweries in this country don’t incorporate the traditional flavors to the extent that Patel does in their beers. “They’re getting into a lot of classic lagers and classic beers, as well as hazy IPAs,” he says.
Patel’s parents immigrated to the United States from India in the mid-1980s, shortly before Patel was born in 1988. His parents own Grog Shop of Meriden, and when Patel was old enough to work in the store. , he became fascinated by the origin story of each type of drink sold. He asked his parents how brandy, wine and beer were made, but they didn’t have the answers. Eventually, he would find out – at least as far as the origins of beer were concerned.
While studying at college and majoring in economics at Eastern Connecticut State University, he discovered the nearby Willimantic Brewing Co.. “I’m like, well, if these guys can do it, I’m sure I can do it.”
After extensive research into the brewing process and brewing activities, Patel decided it was too expensive to open his own physical brewery. Instead, he took the contract brewing route, paying to produce his beer at an existing brewing facility. When he launched his brand two years ago, he became one of the few non-white brewery owners in the state, but he believes more owners and brewers of color are on the way. “We are slowly seeing more diversity happening,” he says. He adds that it’s not just about creating opportunities in the industry for people of color, but that a more diverse representation will help expand the craft beer customer base. “You get more people who want to drink craft beer, instead of a regular domestic beer that you might see,” he says.
As for his brewery, Patel donates 5% of all profits to charity. The practice was inspired by his parents. “If you come to my parents’ store, any customer will tell you, they’re there from opening to closing,” he says. “They work very hard and they also like to give back. “
While Other Desi Beer Co. was still newly formed when the coronavirus hit and plunged the brewing industry – like many others – into disarray, the company weathered the storm. Its beers are distributed throughout the state. You can find a list of liquor stores currently carrying the brand on the brewery website. Patel hopes to open a bar in the future to serve as a permanent home for his beer. In the meantime, you can still find it at the Grog Shop in Meriden.
When customers turn to one of Other Desi Beer Co.’s products, Patel’s parents try to play cool. “If a random new customer picks it up, he doesn’t tell her anything about the beer,” Patel says. When that customer inevitably returns and raves about the drink, Patel’s parents respond, “Yes, it’s our son’s beer. ”