Beer Review: Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer

A NEW beer turned up in the Brick Lane off-license a few months ago. Taking the spotlight from, but not replacing the colourful, mock-Bengali curry beer, Bangla Premium Beer, is another beer designed to compliment your curry. Costing a national deficit creating £2.95 pence, here is a bottle Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer bottle

Nowhere near as bright as Bangla, there’s no mistaking the India and curry connection. It might say “Premium” on the label, but it looks economy. Even so, we know better than to judge a beer by its bottle.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer neck label

The neck-label hints at why it really is “Premium”. “Slow brewed in India” is why I hope it’s going to be worth your time.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer front label

It’s called “Taj Mahal” and has a photo of said Indian landmark to prove it. To hammer home the point of this beer, the label background seems to be taken from the wallpaper from a curry-house.

Cosmetics aside, it does say everything you need it to say. It has the word “lager”, so you’ll know where to align your expectations. It’s a big 650ML bottle and the alcoholic volume is 4.5%. Normally I’d be moaning about it not being very high, but this is a curry beer. Trust me, the last thing you want to cool your mouth down with is Robinson’s Old Tom Strong Ale.

Then there’s the few more hints about why I’m hoping that Taj Mahal is going to turn out well. “Slow brewed in India from the finest malt & hops”. First, it’s brewed in India. Not a deceptive pretend-foreign beer like so many others. Second, fine ingredients are always good. There are still a lot of questions though. Let’s see what the back label has to say…

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer back label

Quite a lot, apparently. All of which I’d class as small-print. I know you love details so, (takes a deep breath), here goes…

Ingredients are “barley malt, adjuncts, hops for bitterness”. Some hoppiness is good for a lager. But what the heck are “adjuncts”? Leave a comment if you know.

It’s “best served chilled” and you need to “consume within day of opening”. Whether that means it’ll still be good to top-up your hangover with your Pot Noodle breakfast the next morning is unclear.

It is, I’m utterly delighted to report, “Produce of India for export”. It was even “Brewed under license from United Breweries Limited, Bangalore, India by Blossom Industries Ltd., Village Jani Vankad Nani Daman 396 210”.

Also on there are the details of the imported and exporter. The Hertfordshire based importer is SOP International Ltd, with a website at www.sopinternational.com and a homepage at http://www.sopinternational.com/d-chi467-taj-mahal-taj-mahal-premium-lager-beer/. The Indian exporter is UB Global with a website at www.ub-global.com and an interesting beer page at http://www.ub-global.com/beer.html.

And that’s all the small-print. So, what does Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer taste like? How does it compare to the other curry beers? Not just the against specialists like Bangla, Cobra and Kingfisher, but the ones that get it spot-on by accident, like Grolsch and Holsten Pils. It’s time to find out.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer poured into a glass

This fridge cold bottle poured so easily, not even I made it glug. Much. For those of you, like me, who don’t do Euro measuring, 650 millilitres (the size of this bottle) is more than a Pint glass can hold. As I discovered.

What does Taj Mahal look like? In the glass, it’s predictably Pilsner lager yellow. Very carbonated, yet it only manages a thin, patchy layer of foam. It really is very fizzy. So much so, the fizzing is audible.

What does Taj Mahal smell like? If you’ve ever sniffed a Pilsner lager before, you’ll have a good idea. It has that familiar whiff of malted barley. At this stage, I was hoping to smell at least a some hoppiness. But alas, I can detect none.

What does Taj Mahal taste like? The first two gulps are easy ones. Being a lager, especially one for your curry, you might not expect it to have flavour. And… it doesn’t.

A good curry beer needs to be refreshing, clean and crisp, ideally with a mild, bitterness. And a few gulps in, that seems to be what Taj Mahal is. While it’s cold, it feels refreshing, clean and crisp. But does it have the bitter, hoppy finish? It is slow brewed and even mentions “hops for bitterness” on the label. Apparently, they didn’t add all that many hops. You just can’t taste them. You do get one of the gentlest, mildest bitter finishes of any lager, ever. Will that be enough to soothe your mouth from chilli agony? Only partly, I suspect.

What am I liking about Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer? While it’s cold, it is supremely easy to drink. Even not beer drinkers will be fine. It is very accessible to the curry munching masses that frequent Brick Lane every evening. If you like your lagers to be clean, crisp and refreshing, Taj Mahal fits the bill nicely. Rather surprisingly, it’s not gassy. And it’s one of the few that comes in bigger-than-a-pint 650ml bottles.

What am I disliking about Taj Mahal? That drinkability and refreshment comes at the expense of watery-ness. It is very light and watery. Normally I like that in a lager. But for something that’s “slow brewed” and so bloody expensive, you expect more than fizzy water. And that leads onto the next issue. The price. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was exclusive ale brewed with myrrh. But it’s a curry beer, to be drunk in vast quantities because your mouth is on fire. With so little in the flavour and taste department, it’s also lacking anything to differentiate it, or to add any charm. And, as it gradually reaches room temperature, which it inevitably will, it loses some of the crisp, refreshing-ness.

How can I sum up Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer? I would like to try it with a curry because it would probably do rather well. At least while it’s cold, it is crisp and refreshing enough to extinguish the inferno raging in your mouth during a curry.

Compared to my other curry favourites, it’s no failure. But neither does it win. It’s just lacking something in the taste department that the others have. Something hoppy. If you’re having a night out, need a beer for your curry and have the money to spend, Taj Mahal is perfectly fine.

Normally, I like simple, cheap, watery lagers. They’re honest and drinkable, so I rate them highly. Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer though is slow brewed and expensive. Sure, Taj Mahal is fine, but cheap lagers a third of the price are at least as good. For that, I’m rating it low.

Rating: 2.3

Have you tried Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer? What did you think of it?

Leave your comments and recommendations down here.

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9 Responses to “Beer Review: Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer”

  1. Keystone Light – Freakshow | Keg-o-Beer Says:

    [...] Beer Review: Taj Mahal Premium Lager Beer « Hywel's Big Log [...]

  2. hmmmmmmm Says:

    site is dead?

  3. mike Says:

    its now 99p in home bargains

  4. omarkalifornia Says:

    Not sure how I ended up here, but really like how you break down the label on the beers. I’m a craft beer enthusiast here in the US, will bookmark it and spend some more time here. Hope you post soon.

  5. mike Says:

    I had this beer at an Indian restaurant in Las Vegas, a few weeks later I found myself in the same restaurant -just for this beer! Even took the empty bottle home to see if I could find it in So Cal. The beer I had was fresh, maybe you got ahold of some stale Taj, this stuff was really, really good, even the non beer drinker in our party loved it.

  6. Darren Says:

    http://www.winning-homebrew.com/adjuncts.html

  7. Thomas Says:

    I think you might have been disappointed with the light body of the beer due to the adjuncts. Adjuncts are unmalted grains such as corn, rice, rye, oats, barley, and wheat that are used most often to lower the cost or to bring some type of consistence to the taste. Given where Taj Mahal is brewed, I’d venture a guess that the primary adjunct is rice. That would explain the lightness of body. You often see this in Asian beers especially those brewed in countries with a hot climate.

    Most often you’ll see adjuncts used in mass market beers. Here in the States, Bud, Miller, Coors, PBR, etc. are often called adjunct beers among beer aficionados. Bud has rice listed in the ingredients on the bottle while you can tell from the cloying sweetness that corn is being used in Miller products. I’ll have a Coors or a PBR on really hot day when the beer is freezing cold otherwise I don’t much see the point.

  8. JT Says:

    Well, though my favorite beer is my next one, I do feel that I have a fairly discriminating palate for beer. Someone gave me a bottle of it and I’m drinking it as I’m writing this and the reason why is that I am on a search for it in the Maryland/DC area because it tastes great to me. Hey, it’s a lager, though much better then run of the mill swill. I agree that it is more like a beer that one would want to consume several of. If the price is too high that could be an issue, but I’d be willing to pay a premium on occasion for a couple of them.

  9. TheBEERSgoneBAD Says:

    We just reviewed this one and this beer is basically just falvored water. I don’t what the Indians consider to be the finest malts but they def. are not transferring to this beer. BORING. Watch out video review below

    http://thebeersgonebad.com/2012/01/11/taj-mahal-premium-lager-united-breweries-thebeersgonebad-94/

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