Craft Beer in Bangalore

IPA beka?

IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Blonde, Hefeweizen, Maibock, Pumpkin Ale, Belgian Tripel, Classic Pilsner, and such: all on tap.

Moving back from the US in 2012, one worrying thought at the back of my head was — where do I get good beer in Bangalore? Back in the late 90’s, I often drank unnamed beers on tap at Purple Haze, Guzzlers’ Inn, Pecos, Tavern at the Inn, and similar places. But now, where do I find the fresh hoppy lip-smacking taste of a good IPA? Or a thick syrupy malty Imperial Stout?

Well, Bangalore happens to be the craft beer capital of India. And nothing is more fun than asking “Yeshtu ee beer ABV?” and hearing “Aaru vare” from your bartender.

Here’s my list:

Windmills CraftworksEd Tringali is the brewmaster at this fantastic brewpub located in the EPIP zone in Whitefield. Their IPA is always on tap, and they have some special seasonals that come in during the right…er…seasons. Their Christmas Ale was mindblowingly good. It’s somewhat of a library bar with a Jazz music scene. But I go there strictly for the beer. But it is dreadfully out of the way for your Whitefield-free average Bangalore beer drinker.

Arbor BrewingGaurav Sikka is the man behind the scenes here. His story on how he brought Arbor Brewing from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Magrath Road, Bangalore is for the ages. Their IPA is hoppin’ hell great. This is my favorite brewpub in town. Actually, in the world. Logan Schaedig, their brewmaster, experiments all the time. Rye IPA, Espresso Stout, Saffron infused lager, Beetroot in Beer (!), and a few others that have all turned out great, if you ask me.

Toit: This is my least favorite of all the good brewpubs in town. Mostly because of how bad the service is, and how they never fill their pint glasses fully. There is always an inch of room above the head. Just skimming a bit of cash from customers. The redeeming thing about Toit was the Pumpkin Ale. Their regular Dark Knight stout is spectacular as well. Conveniently accessible under Indiranagar Metro station.

The Biere Club: Derek, the general manager is a great guy and has been around the Bangalore fine-dining, clubbing, and pub scene forever. The beer is good — though sometimes you might get served a great Belgian Tripel in a old-school German Stein (mug). But they do have the good glasses for more discerning beer drinkers. Bang in the middle of Bangalore ‘downtown’, probably the most accessible of all the brewpubs.

Punjabi by Nature: More of a food place than a beer place. And it shows. The ales are ok, the pilsners are fine, the stouts are passable. Only if you are in the Koramangala area. Not worth going out of your way — at least for beer.

Barleyz: They have the usual collection of Mild Ale, Indian-Craft-Brew-Staple Wit beer, another Wit beer (yes. They have two Wit beers), and something called the Jaggery Ale. The place looks a bit like NASA (Church Street), and is again, worth visiting only if you are in Koramangala.

A few others are waiting to open their beers to us, but are held back by licences, and other such crazy laws of Karnataka. It always makes for great storytelling: to hear about how the brewpubs got around Karnataka liquor laws to just brew beer and get people who love beer to drink it.

I, for one, am happy that they did it.

Favorite Hotels in South Bangalore

1 – Suprabhata Coffee Kendra: This won’t get figured in any top-list (other than mine, of course). They serve the best coffee in town, and probably the best sambhar as well. It’s one of those pre-darshini-age standing hotels, and is very popular among our auto rickshaw drivers. It’s on the diagonal road connecting Sajjan Rao Circle and Minerva Circle; just before the second hand two wheeler market starts. The good thing about this place is – you get coffee in the afternoons.

2 – Brahmins’ Coffee Bar: Idli, vaDe, khara bath, and kesari bath – not to mention the chutney. Don’t be too demanding at the counter; you might just have to deal with some polite rudeness from either of the Adiga brothers who serve the food. But the food is worth it – so worth it.

3 – Vidyarthi Bhavan: The story goes that it was started to cater to National College students in the early 50’s and some of those students still make it a point to come back (and in some cases like mine, very frequently). The trick to getting serviced here quickly is to know their static dose routing algorithm. Here’s how it works: You need to walk up to the kitchen and see which of the servers is getting ready for the next batch, and try to find a seat in his serving territory. If that’s not possible, the next-in-line server’s territory. Another tip would be to ask for ‘less oil’ – brilliant dose (crisp on the outside and soft on the inside), and that uddin beLe chutney makes me forgive all of Bangalore’s traffic woes. If you can’t handle the crowd, just walk down DVG Road to Mahalakshmi Tiffin Room, and you’ll do just fine.

4 – Hotel Dwaraka – It’s a pity they had to change their location from Bull Temple Road to Tyagarajanagara now, and become a semi-Darshini (of all things!!). But the khali dose still remains as soft and as tasty as ever. I would recommend some palya as well – just to make it a set. Enough has been said about their ‘yeraDu dosege mooru baari chutney koDalaguvudilla’ notices – and now that those notices are gone 🙁 they do serve chutney thrice 🙂

5 – Upahara Darshini – Shavige bath, with it’s unique chutney.

Before Bangalore became the restaurant city that it is now, it used to have hotels – and I am glad that most of the classic hotels have survived, and thrived. I will write more on this when I cover the Majestic area and Malleshwaram hotels.