Introduction

November 28, 2019

 

Copied with permission from https://www.arishtam.com/product-page/aristam-homebrewing-guide and https://www.amazon.in/Arishtam-HomeBrew-Probiotics-Indias-homebrew-ebook/dp/B07WSXSCQY

 

The two biggest oxymoron in Indian market are IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) and Blended Scotch. Nobody is sure what is Indian and what is foreign in IMFL. Blended scotch can have any amount of imported liquor, domestic liquor and cheap molasses. In Feb 2017, India’s leading weekly Outlook magazine, ran a cover story: “The 41,000 crore trick called IMFL” to reform some of the questionable, yet permissible industry practices but met with little success.

 

Molasses, a black tar like residue, is an industrial waste and a byproduct from sugar processing. It is the main culprit for the hangover one gets after consuming cheap liquors, yet there is no mass movement to regulate it.

 

Goût de terroirs, the French word that talks about the natural harmony of climate, soil, water and the people from a region is completely missing in Indian food and beverage industry. Even today, most of the microbrewery hire foreign staff and import their entire requirements of hops, malt and yeast. By constantly judging our product on western standards, we kill the possibility of innovation & freedom of expression.

 

Twenty years ago, when I first made my batch, there was very little information and awareness about fermentation at home. Fancy words like home-brewing were not even coined and the customer preferences were shifting from heirloom traditions to packaged food and beverages. This book is a small attempt to reverse this trend.

 

कर्म कर्ता क्रिया ||

 

This book is an effort to answer the reader: What, How, and When of home-brewing. This step by step practical guide is a mash-up of history, science, logic and simple common sense. Firstly, a bit of history, background and culture to create inquisitiveness. Then 25 simple recipes to reassure the reader that the process is easy, simple and fun. Finally, a lifelong quest to master the art of balancing the delicate sensory tastes and aromas. The science of, creating an impact on the final product by small tweaks in process or ingredients. Unlike a typical recipe book, designed for instant-noodle-chefs where readers measure-mix-brew, this is more like a guided journey to self-discovery. The readers should scientifically understand what they are doing and why. Enabling the readers to devising new ways to perfect the craft, innovate and revive a food tradition is the motivation behind this book.

 

About the Author

 

 

My first association with fermentation started twenty years ago, when I made my first batch as part of a high-school project in 1999 and has stuck with me ever since. Under graduation from IIT Kharagpur allowed me to work cross-disciplinary and spend a lot of my time fermenting & trying to recreate Vedic brews. Masters at IIM Lucknow and overseas semester in France gave me an opportunity to interact with various artisans, winemakers, pastis (fermented meat spreads) and other artists. Subsequently, I travelled to over 20 countries to gain exposure to various cultures, traditions and choices made by locals there. All this helped me with a unique blended approach to food-craft which keeps them contemporary and yet in harmony with the culture and heritage.

 

My lifelong quest is revival of our long forgotten Indian heritage, traditions and restoring them to its rightful place. Here, in this book, we do not bombard the readers with jargons to make them snobs. Unlike food labels, there are no confusing terms or esoteric ingredients. The book tries to crystalize the ancient knowledge into simple crux and then scientifically analyze the impact of each of the actions, processes and ingredients. The goal is to enable the readers and to aid their food experiment by utilizing the available and affordable equipment and resources.

 

From France, I understood the value of tradition and presentation. Italy taught me the concept of wine of natural harmony that occurs in a geographical biome. Germany taught me the subtle differences between the various spices and hops. Americans inspired me to be bold enough to take brewing not as a hobby but as a profession. South Korea with its kimchi, miso, and kombucha taught me the value of fermentation beyond recreation. China & Japan have perfected the art of honoring the traditions and blending them into something that the modern generation will revere. Enumerating further, Rwanda & Uganda taught me that using traditional rudimentary process & equipment should not be a matter of shame but a badge of honor worth flaunting.

 

Nothing could have been achieved without the support, pep talk and assistance of my family. My father has been the constant beacon in my life, guiding and challenging me all the time. My wife quit her job, so that we could balance our social commitments. She has been the moral compass, which helped me to stay focused on long-term vision. The path of self-discovery we chose was filled with challenges and perils.

 

Throughout my life, I have tried to absorb these nuggets of wisdom like a sponge. I have met people from different walks of life, learnt from their experiences and tried to incorporate them in my life. I still call myself an artisan, a learner, rather than a master.

 

The name of the book Arishtam (freedom from injury/ disease) is borrowed from Vedas. Our Vedas and ancient literature describes fermentation at great lengths. They detail out ways to extract the essence from the herbs, ensuring that the nectar reaches every cell & rooh (the spirit) of the recipient without being denatured in the process. The western medicine typically boil the herbs in order to extract its essence and then use a sugar syrup to mask its harsh tastes. Presently, homeopathy and many western medicines are altering their recipes to incorporate the tinctures. Like the Vedic Arishtam, they have discovered that alcohol is a good solvent capable of extracting the medicinal properties most efficiently from the herbs and has an uncanny ability to make the taste more palatable.

 

www.arishtam.com is a small initiative to enable the fellow hobbyist perfect their quest of this ultimate expression of one’s individuality. This book is especially for those readers who understand the harmful effects of dyes, molasses, chemicals and additives. Today the industry is laden with so many buzzwords and confusing marketing jargons that people get lost and end up over-complicating their consumption patterns. We will try to bust some of the myths, beliefs and use a scientific process to help in making a more informed and balanced choice.

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