Beer is the people's drink, they say and Germany, which is one of the world's biggest consumers of the alcoholic beverage, lives by that principle every year with the famed Oktoberfest. India, too, is not far behind in the festivities, as the "desi" version of the iconic volkfest is being celebrated in full swing in the national capital and its suburbs.
This year, the festival, which kicked-off mid-September and will continue throughout October, is being celebrated by several pubs and micro-breweries in the Delhi/NCR region.
Traditionally celebrated in Munich, the popular Bavarian fest is causing much intrigue among the city's guzzlers. And although Oktoberfest celebrations in India are hardly as grand as one would experience in Germany, they are at least spreading awareness here about beer festivities.
A German micro-brewery and kitchen located in the Gurgaon suburb, 7 Degrees Brauhaus is bringing the Bavarian culture to India with elan.
Brauhaus is offering traditional German brews, prepared in-house by brew-master Sagar Amol Pawale, throughout the festival along with scrumptious German dishes like Schnitzels, salads, soups, desserts and a special Oktoberfest platter created by Chef Siddharth Vasudev.
On offer are four brews - the traditional lager, the wheat bear, a ladies special lager and the dark wheat beer.
"For Oktoberfest, we are offering four brews, which includes a special drink for ladies, which is a lager with sweetness. The wheat beers and traditional lagers are our most selling drinks," Pawale told IANS.
The brewery, which strictly adheres to the German Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot), uses only water, barley and hops to brew their beers, and it shows in the organic, healthy flavours.
The Beer Cafe is also not far behind in revving up the festivities with their 'Oktobrewfest'.
Priya Vasudeva, general manager, marketing, The Beer Cafe, claims the pub has "the largest collection" of German beers in India.
"This year we're celebrating with Erdinger Weissbier, Erdinger Dunkel, Schneider Weiss, Valentins, Kaiserdom, Weizenberg, Paulaner, Paulaner Hefe Weissbier, Paulaner Salvator and Krombacher Pils," Vasudeva told IANS.
"We've also tried to recreate the Munich celebrations by adding festive tunes to our playlist, a special menu with traditional sausages and a fun photo-op area to capture the 'beery' moments," she added.
Vasudeva also highlighted the need to do away with "rigid, archaic excise laws" in order to introduce an actual outdoor carnival like the original, German Oktoberfest.
"We'd love to take the celebrations a notch higher and introduce an outdoor carnival with good food, great music and the best beers. It might be a reality soon with the NRAI's (National Restaurant Association of India's) endeavour to create a supportive industry environment," she said.
The Suryaa is taking the festivities a notch higher with their Roktoberfest, where guests are treated with headbanging rock numbers along with the German beer.
Even though German expats are more frequently attending the festivities, Indians too are enjoying, says Pankaj Mathur, general manager, The Suryaa.
"We have seen an increase in expats, not only Germans but also from other EU (European Union) countries, who regularly visit us during this time. However, we have a number of Indian guests enjoying Roktoberfest and using ongoing deals on the beer packages at our hotel," Mathur told IANS.
If you're a beer and food lover, then you really have no excuse to give the Oktoberfest a miss.
Raise those mugs high and say 'prost' - the German way to say cheers!
(Ankit Sinha can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)