It appears that Old Monk beer has been around for a little while, but for me this was a revelation and apparently for many others too.

It had been a couple of months since I had my last sip of beer. Working from home and venturing out only when absolutely necessary meant that I had to limit my spirits with whatever was left in stock in my cellarette.

The other day, when I had to go out to get some dawa, I took a quick turn to a nearby wine store to check on some much-needed daaru as well. And to my surprise, gleaming from behind the glass door of the refrigerator, was a familiar face – that of a monk with a contented smile. “What’s Old Monk doing inside a refrigerator?” I thought. Then I noticed that it wasn’t a big fat bottle but a can. A can of Old Monk Super Strong beer!

Achcha hain!” the salesman recommended. A bit unsure, I picked only two cans along with a bottle of the good ol’ rum and headed home.

It appears that Old Monk beer has been around for a little while, but for me this was a revelation and apparently for many others too, as I got to know when I tweeted about my “discovery”.

Before I get you sipping on the review, I want to first clear some froth.

Many of us have been told that Old Monk, as all Old Monk bacchantes will agree, is not just a rum, it’s an institution. You don’t drink Old Monk, you experience it. However, I discovered the buddha sadhu a little late, Christian Brothers Rum being my choice of poison for long (even got bottles from my hometown Shillong as I didn’t find it in the cities education and jobs took me to). Even today, if given a choice, I would pick Christian Brothers over Old Monk.

Also with regards to beer, my choice usually has differed from many of the people I have been drinking with. I grew up in Shillong where alcohol was cheap. So cheap that they didn’t sell any quarters. Only half bottles or more. A bottle of beer in my college days cost Rs 18 at a bar (about Rs 65-70 in today’s currency). And for us, beer was of only one type – strong. In fact, for quite a while, many of us were not even aware that other milder variants even existed. I never had much of a taste for fancy beers. My choice of beer: Haywards 5000!

Two cans of Old Monk beer (Photo:Soumyadip Choudhury)

Now that I have got this froth away. On to the Old Monk beer review.

I put on a movie – A Beautiful Mind (2001) – I had long wanted to watch but couldn’t for the last two decades, spread some chakhna on a plate and hesitatingly took a can of Old Monk beer out of the fridge. Was it going to make the leisurely Sunday afternoon worth it?

I popped the can open and took a small sip. “Umm!” Coming from a strong rum brand, I expected this strong beer to have the bitterness that we often associate with stronger beers. And this while tasting strong, the flavour was smooth. Took a bigger sip to double-check – and the result was affirmative. And no, it doesn’t taste like rum 😉

One can down. I grabbed the second one. And by the time I was through with the second can, I wasn’t even halfway through the movie that I wanted to watch for 20 years! Also, I was feeling a bit drowsy. This was indeed a strong beer. My kinda beer. And cannot imagine Old Monk beer to be available in any avatar other than Super Strong.

At Rs 140 a can here in Uttar Pradesh this is in a similar price range as other beers such as Carlsberg or Kingfisher.

Can Old Monk beer aspire for an Old Monk-rum-like cult following? Too early to say though. The beer holds promise. The taste is smooth and I see myself buying more than two cans in the future to stock in my cellarette. But then legends don’t get made in a day or by downing two cans.

The makers of Old Monk, Mohan Meakin, have been in the business of beer for quite some time – their other beer brands include Golden Eagle and Asia 72. And this experience reflects in the taste of Old Monk Super Strong beer.

PS: Consumption of alcohol is injurious to health. Be safe – don’t drink and drive.

Categories: Reviews Shillong