My fiancee treated me to a birthday dinner last weekend in the very tasty Monty's Nepalese restaurant in Dublin's Temple Bar. Being fully cognizant of my beer predilection, she joyfully informed me that Monty's stocked its own lager specific to them and brewed to complement Asian food. I have never really understood the notion of beers brewed to suit particular food types. Some are better than others, but most beers work quite well for me. With respect to spicy Asian dishes, I would much prefer something with more flavour than the light lagers that are invariably paired with it.
I was certain that Shiva was contract brewed for the restaurant and likely farmed out to any other number of establishments with differing labels to suit the marketing needs of the buyer. The label boasted of the sole use of malt, hops, water and yeast with no GM ingredients. I'm not too hung up on GM food and the all malt grain bill was promising. I was happily surprised to see a deep golden hue when I splashed the beer into the glass which dispelled my preconceptions of this being a light bodied beer in the predictable Asian lager genre.
The nose was rich in malt, and the first mouthful was promising with a fullness likely derived from Munich or Vienna malts. The hop bitterness was restrained, but a tell tale tang on the swallow indicated that all was not well with the beer. It took me a few moments to pinpoint it as my palate had been somewhat assaulted by some spicy tidbits provided by the waiter. After a second mouthful I had pinned the flavour down as green apples, the telltale sign of excess acetaldehyde stemming from poor fermentation control or insufficient lagering. The beer was all but undrinkable within half a glass, resembling cider after 30 minutes of sitting on the table. It was a shame because the hue and initial malty note was very promising. Despite the unfortunate off flavour the beer was rapidly appearing on tables around the restaurant, though M did note that it was subjected to a thorough sniffing by quite a few diners, and I wondered if they too had noted the fruity nature of the beer. Perhaps it was merely a batch issue and I may well risk this beer again if I revisit Monty's in the future.