Gir | Azadi Brewing
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Going into having my first Azadi beer on our Local News show, I had no preconceived notion of what to expect from them. Upon opening and drinking Kadak, my expectations have been set. The balance between the chocolatey, roasty stout and the chai spices exceeded any notions that I had about this new brewery. It never got to be too much. So with that in mind I had to try at least one of Azadi’s other two offerings available in the market – either their Kavi golden ale or Gir IPA. I felt like some hops, so I opted for Gir, their Kesar Mango IPA. (Just checked their Instagram – Bhogate, a grapefruit gose, is also currently available.)
Azadi Brewing began in November 2020 with a launch party at Pilot Project Brewing. Azadi brews their beers at Pilot Project, a brewery incubator in Chicago. Co-founders Gator and Bhavik Modi split duties – Gator appears to handle the brewing while Bhavik focuses on the fruit, spice and any of the more culinary aspects of their beers. Their beer can be found at most beer places around the Chicagoland area – including Whole Foods.
The Gir Kesar mango grows in Gujarat, India, near the Girnar mountain. This mango received geographical indication status in 2011, which means the product (in this case the mango) must come from that region in order to be called a Gir Kesar mango (similar to lambic in the Pajottenland). The Gir comes from the name of the mountain while Kesar comes from when a local ruler saw the fruit in 1934 and said, “This is Kesar,” with Kesar meaning saffron in Hindi. There’s also a debate as to which mango is the king of Indian mangoes – Alphonso, Dasheri, or Kesar. I will not take sides in this debate until I’ve tried all three, hopefully in Azadi beers!
Gir uses Mosaic, Citra and Azacca hops along with the Kesar mango. Gir pours a resplendent orange color, with amber and honey hues thrown in as well. A finger of white head slowly recedes to a small coating. You can’t really see through to the other side of the glass on Gir. The Kesar mango adds that hazy gradient quality, as well as that lovely orange color. Gir never hits that milky white color thankfully.
Aroma on beers like this are always tricky. I don’t know if what I’m smelling is mango, but there’s mango in it so it has to be! Mango and orange notes lead the aromatic charge, followed by some grassiness and a hint of pine. There’s even a bit of mustiness, but nothing off-putting or “old IPA” about it. Some assorted tropical and citrus fruits come and go, but nothing overpowers the mango/orange aroma. If you remember when the fruited IPA craze hit in the mid-2010s, this smells a lot like those. Something similar to the fruited Sculpin from Ballast Point.
If you had any of those fruited IPAs, you know exactly what to expect in the taste. The mango shows up at the beginning of the sip. That gives way to the expected bitterness, which then in turn gets cut by the fruit. The mouthfeel gives off more of an IPA vibe, with a medium carbonation that leaves behind a small amount of bitterness and the mango. I have not had a Kesar mango before but a certain amount of spice or heat kept showing up as I sipped on it. I’m not calling it a spiced or pepper beer by any means, but the heat coming off it would make me think there was something added. A nice little bonus touch though.
Gir is extremely drinkable. That medium mouthfeel keeps the beer from hanging around on the tongue too long and weighing it down. The mango provides some juciness to the IPA, but thankfully not a ton of sweetness. It stays in that bitter IPA pocket, but never goes too big on the IBUs. That bitterness also hangs around a bit, forming a nice redrinking trifecta with the mango and spice. It’s also very refreshing and demands to be consumed on a warm Chicago day.
Gir continues Azadi’s excellence in traditional styles expertly balanced with Indian ingredients and spices. While I prefer Kadak, the fruit and the IPA qualities pair extremely well together and make for a juicy and refreshing drink. It will not satisfy those on either side of the IPA spectrum but those that prefer a little juice with their bitterness. Perfect for the patio or the dinner plate!
Azadi Brewing can be found at the source – Pilot Project Brewing – both on tap and to go, as well as most Chicagoland craft beer stores.