The sultry, southern Indian city of Bangalore has carved out a niche as the hub of India’s thriving IT sector, but what visitors may not realise is that it has also long enjoyed a reputation as the country’s pub capital. While other megalopolises such as Mumbai and New Delhi host a bevy of swish watering holes and cocktail dens that stay open into the wee hours, it’s Bangalore that boasts a new wave of microbreweries and a thriving, independent craft beer scene.
At the best beer venues in the city, one can find innovative pints spiked with seasonal fruit or local spices and even brewed with traditional grains, offering up intriguing flavours drinkers are unlikely to experience anywhere else. Here are eight spots to sample some of Bangalore’s best brews.
The first Indian outpost of the US craft brewery of the same name (it’s based in Ann Arbor, Michigan) Arbor Brewing Company is known for its India Pale Ale (IPA) varieties – bitter beers that use generous quantities of hops for both flavour and aroma. Beyond IPAs, they offer a wide range of other brews, from the popular, spicy Bangalore Bliss hefeweizen, with hints of banana, clove and lemon blossom, to the award-winning Michael Faricy’s Irish stout that has flavours of dark chocolate and Turkish coffee.
2. Big Brewsky
What better locale to enjoy a cold beer in balmy Bangalore than by the poolside of this open-air restaurant? The breezy venue also pulls out all the stops when it comes to finger food– from moreish popcorn prawns to green falafel pockets – that complements its brews. This pub is known for its dark and peaty beers, such as a heady coffee stout packed with chocolate and liquorice flavours on top of the coffee notes. Alternatively, try the smoky rauchbier beer that comes with a sweetish and malty tinge.
Seemingly straight out of Ireland, this tavern located inside luxury hotel The Paul boasts that their brewers make the best lager in town. While such a claim may sound lofty, their bestselling Black Beard lager is sublimely smooth and malty, carrying a whiff of caramelised sugar. The décor – all wood and leather with beer barrels serving as tables – is designed as a tribute to old, kitschy Irish pubs.
Local residents love to kick back with a pint of Windmills Craftworks’ hefeweizen, which is inspired by the refreshing wheat beers of southern Germany and contains a special yeast that imbues the beer with mild hints of banana and clove. On the other side of the flavour spectrum is their dark and full-bodied stout, with its distinct taste of roasted barley. The warm and cosy restaurant space is lined with bookshelves and also plays host to some of the city’s more exciting music events through the year.
One of south India’s oldest microbreweries, the Biere Club prides itself on fresh beers created in small batches. This means the innovative use of seasonal ingredients and spices: think mango beer or a lemon and chilli cooler ideal for the sweltering summer months. In the cooler season, the pub offers wheat beers made with rich malts and spicy hops. If in doubt, there is also a sampler flight to start with – four to six small glasses, usually comprising a wheat beer, lager, stout, ale and any seasonal or special brew.
For an unbeatable buzz, Bangalore’s hottest watering hole is Toit, right in the beating heart of Indiranagar, a lush and leafy residential neighbourhood. From pale ales and smoked rye ales to lagers and English malts, there is something for every kind of beer aficionado here. Toit also creates brews with a fruity twist from time to time using local ingredients such asmosambi (sweet lime) and jackfruit.
7. Farzi Café
After making culinary waves with a progressive menu that fuses modern Indian cuisine with molecular kitchen wizardry, Farzi Café has recently started offering up its own craft beers as well. The masala saison, with its notes of pepper and citrus, was created to remind drinkers of an old-fashioned spice box, while a chocolate stout spotlights the aromas of roasted coffee and mild chocolate.
This brewpub, with outlets in both Bangalore and Hyderabad, derives its name from the German word for “cheers”. Prost is known for its excellent line up of live music and stand-up comedy events as much as its beers. Their own tribute to the city comes in the form of the pale Bangalore Bolt which ismade using German wheat and barley along with a special Bavarian yeast.
Besides their residential brews that are ranked from mild to wild, keep a look out for their exclusive flavours each season. Some of their special flavours include sugarcane beer, salted caramel brownie ale, and green chili beer. The food menu is designed to pair perfectly with the various brews, and changes seasonally based on the local produce and flavours of every season.
This article was originally published in the December 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine
Additional reporting by Claire Ang