Art of Darkness or Victory V-Twelve, they're not exactly terrible. In fact, when I'm dining at an Indian restaurant, I'll generally order an Indian beer (especially if I've never had that particular one before). For me, it's just a part of the overall experience.
My favorite Indian restaurant in Columbus is the excellent Aab India in Grandview, near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Grandview Avenue. If you enjoy Indian food and haven't made the trek to Aab India yet, let me urge you to make it a point to get there. For now, let's get back to the beer.
Haywards 5000 Super Premium Lager is brewed by Shaw Wallace and Company in Mumbai, India. It's a malt liquor, with a fairly strong 8% alcohol content.
Poured from the bottle, it's a clear yellow color with virtually no head. The beer leaves behind no lacing in the glass.
The flavor is mild, malty, and slightly sweet. The hops presence is minimal at best. This combination alone would get it a 7 out of 10 on my rating scale. The fact that its flavor is an excellent complement to the flavors of Indian food (washing them down without competing with them), solidify that ranking.
Since that rating is pretty high, I feel it's important to qualify it. Haywards 5000 is not one of the beers I'd want to be stranded on a deserted island with. There are probably a dozen others that would come to mind first. On the other hand, it's definitely the best of the Indian beers I've had so far. If I was stranded on an island and a load of it washed ashore, well... let's just say it wouldn't go to waste. I can't say the same for, say, a load of IPAs.
The Beer Advocate crowd definitely disagrees with me on this one, and I respect their reasons. They rate it "poor" or 64 out of 100. Reviewers commented that "something metallic and medicinal is present" (I didn't notice this) and "it is what it is - not that bad... not that great either". Most admitted that while it wasn't their favorite, it wasn't bad.
My rating: 7/10