Is India a beer wasteland? Beer snobs would say yes. These are the blokes (and babes) who blather on about hops and malt, about double IPAs and, these days, rye. They detest drinking beer from a bottle (you have to pour it out into a clear glass) and have a love-hate relationship with carbonations. Most damning of all, these are the people who savage a local beer company which shall go unnamed, even though it is named after a rather beautiful bird, for adding enzymes to the beer and fudging with its taste and properties. So what do you do?
There are at least 30 different beers available in India, ranging from Heineken to Hoegaarden; from Asahi to Stella Artois. If you like artisanal draught beer, however, you have a couple of choices: you go abroad and drink lots of beer or you frequent cities like Pune and Bangalore that have local breweries like Geist.
The Fizzics Waytap starts off with a provocative question: why does beer taste so good fresh from the brewers tap, but doesn’t taste nearly as good from a can, bottle or growler?’ Well, that would have to do with freshness, pressure and artisanal additions.
The Fizzics uses sound technology to give all these qualities to beer from a bottle. The actual process is somewhat obtusely described. “Sound waves convert the beer’s carbonation into densely compacted, uniform micro-foam™ bubbles, unlocking that fresh-from-the-tap taste,” says the website. Okay, but how exactly? Can sound waves convert beer into something better. That would be like saying that I can sing into a wine glass and convert the flaccid bubbles of a Spanish cava into denser, dryer champagne. See if you can make sense of the explanation below.
“Pulling the handle forward gently pours the body of the beer under pressure into your glass, controlling the flow digitally while keeping the bottle pressurized to keep the bulk of the carbonation within the beer. Pushing the handle backwards triggers the sonication process, which applies sound waves to control the process of abstracting and converting the beer’s natural carbonation into ideal micro-foam comprised of uniform-sized bubbles with the perfect density, delivering the best aroma, flavor and mouth-feel. Fizzics enhances the flavor and taste of all beer styles, including IPAs, pilsners, brown ales, stouts, porters, lagers, etc.”
In order to properly test this product, one had to engage in the somewhat arduous chore of drinking a variety of beers. The process itself is very simple. You put a bottle or can inside the Waytap, close the lid so that a straw-like tube goes into the beer. You pull the handle up and hear bubbling like a waterfall. Out comes the beer into the glass. When it is three-quarters full, you turn the handle in the other direction (push away from you). This causes the “head” of the beer to surge on top.
Does the Waytap do everything it says it would? Well, a group of beer tasters couldn’t taste the improvement in a basic Indian lager. It worked better with the more expensive beers in the market. The sonification or stirring gave the beer a creamy taste and improved aroma. When a foreign witbier and an IPA were poured through, it gave a certain depth to the flavours. The IPA tasted a tad more bitter (which I like but others may not). The Belgian witbier fared even better. Pouring it through the Waytap brought out hints of peppercorn and spiciness while preserving the lemony finish.
The local Ultra beer that we tested morphed to become the best of them all. It tasted better via the Waytap than straight out of the bottle. No matter whether you can taste the difference, the Waytap fulfils one important purpose: it gives ceremony to what is essentially an earthy “man’s” drink. With the Waytap, you have to pour, push, pull, smell, slurp and taste the beer, almost as if it were a wine. Is that good or bad? You decide.
The Fizzics Waytap is available for $129.99 and can be shipped globally.
Unless you are a bunch of folks in the middle of a rowdy keg party-cum-watching the world finals, the Waytap is a rather elegant way to pour out what used to be an inelegant drink but is now increasingly becoming artisanal-ified.
Disclosure: this product was loaned for purposes of this review.