Bengaluru’s first craft brewery, The Biere Club, has had six years to perfect their traditional stouts, lagers, ales and wheat brews. However, it’s the experimental, seasonal beers that are most exciting. Try their fruity flavours (including mango!) in the summer, and heavier beers with notes of spices during the winter months.
Following closely at their heels is Toit, a brewpub whose mission statement is literally “to make this world a happier and boozier place”. No artificial flavourings, colour or chemicals go into making this brewery’s delicious beers. Try the crowd-pleasing Basmati Blonde, a refreshing and light mix of German Pilsner malt and, yes, actual basmati rice, or the full-bodied dry stout, the Dark Knight.
The Arbor Brew Company (an Indian branch of Michigan’s Arbor Brew Company) is another favourite. Not for the faint of heart (or palate) try their signature IPA (Indian pale ale) – the Raging Elephant, or the white pepper-infused Independence Lager. Another standout is the Smooth Criminal with the unusual but beautifully balanced flavours of honey and lavender.
Another Bengaluru favourite is the jazz bar-cum-brewpub Windmills Craftwork. You’ll find the usual suspects—IPA, stout, etcetera, etcetera—alongside more inventive offerings like the Coconut Brown Ale with hints of jaggery.
The newest entrant on the Mumbai brew scene, Brewbot has already garnered quite the following for their aptly named Black Mamba. This British stout has a strong chocolate and coffee flavour that’s a result of the clever use of lactose sugar and flaked oats. On the paler end of the beer colour wheel is Mumbai’s first microbrewery, The Barking Deer (Reserve now), which set many a Mumbaikar down the delicious road to becoming artisanal ale aficionados. Perfect for the hot months (all 11 of them), try the crowd-pleasing Bombay Blonde Ale or the Lemon Saison (with just the right balance of citrus notes) if you like your beers a little lighter, or the heavier Flying Pig Belgian Wit.
Not far from Barking Deer is The White Owl (Reserve now), with an impressing range of home brews. Try the Diablo, a caramel-flavoured Irish red ale, or the American Pale Ale, Torpedo. Try the beer popsicle (yes, actual beer, actual popsicle) if you’re looking for something with a bit more bite (gettit?) and the dry apple cider, which some say rivals the one at Doolally (sacrilege!).
Which brings us, at last, to the Big Daddy of Indian microbreweries – Doolally (now with branches in Mumbai too). Little else can be written about the place that started it all, so we’ll keep it short and sweet: the apple cider is delicious, the Oatmeal Stout’s coffee aftertaste lingers long after your mug’s been drained (why’s it empty? Get another!), and the Belgian Witbier will keep you coming back for more.
Over at the Independence Brew Company, you’ll love the Abbey Ale if you’re looking for a beer with a hint of sweetness, though it’s the peppery Four-Grain Saison (a mix of barley, wheat, rye and oats) that is most intriguing. At T.J’s Brew Works the beers are a lot more ‘beginner’ friendly, as they’re light on the bitter aftertaste, but you’ll keep going back for the mystery brew – who knows what it’ll be the next time you’re there? Smaller than the others, Flambos is also a great place to get your craft brew on – try the well-balanced Irish stout and the perennial favourite Hefeweizen.
Gurgaon has a slew of breweries, so picking just a few can be tough, but 7 Degrees Brauhaus is a no-brainer. Their lager is one of the finer ones in India, and served perfectly chilled (7 degrees, of course!). In Gurgaon, there’s also Manhattan, known for its wheat beer and Thursday comedy nights; Vapour with its seasonal offerings (always a crowd-pleaser); 7 Barrel Brewpub foritslager and malty Amber Red; and the great selection of stouts at Brewer’s Street.
While we’re not into recommending you follow the herd when it comes to trends, in this case, we’ll make an exception. Mostly because we don’t think craft beer in India is a trend – it’s here to stay and thank god for that.