Microbreweries in Bangalore – The Finest 6!

Microbreweries in India – where the story all began!

It all started nearly 10 years back! Doolally, inaugurated in the city of Pune, introduced India’s beer connoisseurs to the whole new world of microbreweries. Soon, Doolally Taproom opened up in nearby Mumbai as well. In Bangalore, the oldest microbreweries were BrewMaster (KR Puram), Toit (Indiranagar), Biere Club (Vittal Mallya Road) and District 6(Rajajinagar). As of today, there are close to 60 microbreweries and brewpubs in India’s pub city. I have been a craft beer aficionado since 2012 when I first came to Bangalore. This is my selection of Bangalore’s finest microbreweries:

 

Microbreweries in Bangalore

(All pictures are for representative purposes only)

 

1.Toit Brewpub, Indiranagar

Ever since the legendary brewpub opened its doors to the Bangalore public in 2010, Toit has become an institution for all beer lovers, a cult in itself. Making 1,500 liters of craft beer on a daily basis, Toit offers six popular craft beers on tap. The most popular ones amongst these are Tintin Toit – a fruity wheat beer, Basmati Blonde – a light malt-flavored beer and of course, the Dark/Stout beer varieties – Dark Knight and Toit Red. Seasonal specially brewed varieties also are a big hit with its patrons. Bestselling ones include Jamun Gose, Independence Brew, Pastry Stout (another stronger variety of dark stout), Pumpkin Ale and Santa Ale with Christmas spices added.

The sheer popularity and craze for Toit can be gauged from the fact that on any weeknight (not just weekends), the place is chockablock full! One cannot grab a seat immediately and might have to await his/her turn on the bar counter/outside according to a queue system. 

Brewery tours and delicious food platters

In a first-of-its-kind in Bangalore, Toit also offers Brewery tours on the first Saturday of every month. These tours offer a fascinating insight into how microbreweries really work and the intricate brewing process involved. It is also a golden opportunity to get queries answered with the brewer and sip freshly brewed craft beer.  Beer enthusiasts also get a whiff of optimal food pairing combinations for every variety, which is mentioned on the menu.

The food platters are suited to tickle your taste buds, the favorites being beef burgers and the wood-fire oven pizzas made from sourdough bread.  The ambience is great at all times in this cozy joint. The in-house DJ also plays music for all tastes on weekends and important festive occasions. Service from waiters is pleasant and friendly, and the prices are reasonable, with the bill not burning a hole in your pocket. In a bid to replicate its Bangalore magic, the brewpub has also expanded to Mumbai and Pune recently.

Where: 298, 100 Feet Road, Namma Metro Pillar 62, Indiranagar.

 

2.Arbor Brewing Company, Magrath Road

Another one of Bangalore’s signature microbreweries, Arbor or ABC (as it is often called) was set up in Bangalore in 2012. The company partnered with Bangalore-native and Michigan alum Gaurav Sikka to open India’s first American-style microbrewery. The place’s flagship brews include Brassiere Blond & Smooth Criminal (two fruity ales with the latter having a higher alcohol content), Bangalore Bliss (Hefeweizen wheat beers scented with banana, clove, and floral lemon citrus blossom), No Parking (A German-style Pilsner), Phat Abbot Tripel, Raging Elephant IPA and Michael Faricy’s Irish Stout. ABC also has rotational and seasonal beers for its discerning patrons.

Food is excellent here, as it offers a wide assortment of starters, salads & wraps, pasta, burgers & sandwiches, entrees, pizza, and desserts. The place is located on the 3rd floor of a seemingly nondescript building – Allied Grande Plaza, opposite to Garuda Mall. A prime location and great ambience (with a live DJ on weekends and important festivals) always ensure a steady stream of loyal customers. The official website has an online store selling merchandise like tees and beer soaps, and like Toit, there is also a brewery & beer tasting tour for all dedicated beer fans. ABC has now also spread its wings to Goa, where it operates as a Beer Garden & Eatery.

Where: #8, Magrath Road, Allied Grande Plaza, Ashok Nagar (Opposite Garuda Mall).

 

3.Byg Brewski, Sarjapur Road & Hennur Road

Even though the first Byg Brewski came up in Sarjapur Road,  the one at Hennur Road (inaugurated on May 31st, 2019) is now officially recognized as India’s (and even Asia’s) largest microbrewery. Spread over a sprawling 65,000 sq. ft space, the place can comfortably seat an awe-inspiring 1,280 patrons at any given point of time! The huge place has a capacity for 20,000 liters of craft beer and a record 16 types of craft beer on tap.

 

Byg Brewski Hennur Road- an experience of a lifetime!

The place boasts of five experience zones – a high energy pub, a party zone, a quiet, chilling zone, a high point for gorgeous sunsets, and an area over nine steps with a giant screen to show popular cricket and soccer games. The night club has a medieval Scottish vibe, with multiple-dining options in varied décor styles like vintage European and amphitheater step-dining offering global cuisine. The 5,000 sq. ft live kitchen can serve 200 dishes and cater to about 5,000 meals per day.

 

Byg Brewski Sarjapur Road – an equally tempting party hotspot

The older Big Brewski is also a major crowd puller, especially since it strategically located at Sarjapur Road. The area has rapidly transformed itself into a major residential hub lined with big multistoried apartments and major IT offices. Voted Bangalore’s Best Brewpub at the 2018 Times Nightlife Awards, the modern microbrewery is on two levels. The attractive Koi pond is the cynosure of all eyes amongst outdoor tables.

The most popular craft beers here include the Cryo Citra Wit (made from special ‘Citra hops’ dipped in liquid nitrogen before being crushed), Rauchbier (made from beechwood and maple-smoked malts), Coffee Stout, Belgian Tripel (a strong pale ale) and Golden Ale. The food is also good, catering mainly to light Asian & continental cuisine lovers. Like in all other popular hangouts, a DJ livens up the ambience with some foot-tapping music when evening sets in. A giant screen also streams popular cricket matches on a regular basis.

Where: Byrathi Village Sothern Asia Bible College, 22, Hennur Bagalur Rd & Sarjapur Road, Behind MK Retail, Before Wipro Corporate Office.

Craft beers in microbreweries

 

4.Biere Club, Vittal Mallya Road & Whitefield

The Biere Club is reputed to be amongst Bangalore’s first microbreweries and has a unique old-world charm that is hard to miss. Spread across three floors and at a walking distance from UB City, the microbrewery is a favorite for all age groups. Traditionally crafted fresh beers like Wheat, Lagers, Ales, and Stouts are made in small lots and include seasonal varieties as well. The food choices are also mouthwatering and include various combinations to go with the beer, be it pizzas, spicy chicken items or the value-for-money non-veg jumbo platter.

On the second floor, there are pool tables and other games for recreational needs. On weekends and special occasions, the place gets packed with people who refuse to give up their tables and leave. There is also another Biere Club in Whitefield, behind Forum Value Mall. Named 153 Biere Street, the place has outdoor and indoor seating options and has a quaint European feel to it.

Where: 20/2, Vittal Mallya Rd, D’ Souza Layout, Ashok Nagar & 153/1, Biere Street, Hagadur Main Rd, Whitefield.

Finest craft beer

 

5.Biergarten Brewery & Kitchen, Whitefield & Koramangala

A haven for craft beer lovers, the original Biergarten is a massive place in Whitefield, with another Beirgarten having opened now in Koramangala, 5th block. The microbrewery is famous for German-style brews and has 8 craft beers on tap.  Pair your craft beer with delicious medu vada pops, ghee roast prawns, or the Andhra chilly chicken, or with the delicious continental fare. The microbreweries in both Whitefield and Koramangala get packed on most nights. It is situated across two floors with huge seating space, vast open areas, picturesque views, and lush greenery.

The Whitefield branch has a shared community arrangement with long benches/tables. Thus, one can strike up an interesting conversation with an absolute stranger next to you, or even sing along with the live band. The newly opened microbrewery in Koramangala gets absolutely full on weekends, and unless you come early, it is difficult to find a seat. The DJ belts out popular Hindi and English numbers and there is also a small dance floor to boogie the night away. Prices in both places are more or less reasonable, though the service could be slightly faster.

Where: 2, Graphite India Main Rd, Doddanakundi Industrial Area 2, Doddanekundi, Hoodi & 4th B Cross Rd, 5th Block, Koramangala (Near Jyoti Niwas College).

 

Craft Beer on tap

 

6.Windmill Craftworks, Whitefield & Bangalore International Airport

Easily amongst Bangalore’s top microbreweries, Windmill Craftworks is a brewpub with a difference. Having opened in 2012, it has a unique jazz theatre(and stage) of its own, along with a library with a wide collection of books. There’s also a lovely rooftop restaurant called ‘The Terrace’ serving authentic North Indian and Punjabi fare. Six craft beers on tap are served, out of which  Stout, Hefeweizen, Golden Ale, and India Pale Ale are always available, while the other two are seasonal. Foodwise, popularly ordered dishes include beef Picante, pork ribs, Alabama cheeseburger, brie and mushroom, and the espresso pannacotta.

Recently, Windmill Craftworks has also opened in Bangalore’s International Airport. Having a similar wooden décor feel like its main Whitefield counterpart, the airport outlet serves a similar range of craft beers and food and is a welcome attraction for people having time to kill at the airport.

Where: #331, Road 5B, EPIP Zone, Whitefield. Landmarks – Next to L&T Infotech & The Quad, Devanahalli, Kempegowda International Airport.

Microbreweries at the airport

In addition to the above list of microbreweries, there are other equally popular ones. Prominent examples include Bangalore Brew Works, Vapour (Indiranagar & Sarjapur Road), Hoot (India & Bangalore’s second-largest microbrewery with a space of 40,000 sq. ft), Barleyz, Prost, Bier Library, Pallet Brewhouse & Kitchen, Big Pitcher, Alchemy, Murphy’s Brewhouse & Spice Terrace (the last three all inside Hotels – Chancery Pavilion, The Paul & JW Marriott respectively), Druid Garden, Red Rhino, Brewklyn, XooX Brewmill & Brewsky, to name a few.

 

Craft beer market poised for a retail boom

Currently pegged at 2-3% of the country’s beer market, India’s craft beer market is steadily growing. This is fueled by an ever-increasing demand from millennials, who prefer its flavors over standard beers available in retail stores. To cash in on this, brewers are looking to introduce craft beer varieties in cans. Examples of these include Independence Brewing Company, Pune launching its craft beer cans in Maharashtra, Karnataka & Goa. Bira has also added a new variant ‘Bira Boom’ to its existing popular craft beer variants like Bira White Ale, Bira Light, Bira Blonde Lager, etc. Toit is in the process of setting up a 4-acre brewery production center outside the city to launch four variants of packaged craft beer.

Craft beer in cans

 

But making and selling craft beer for retail outlets isn’t that easy a task. Besides the hassle of getting licenses and distribution tie-ups, brewpubs have cold chain supply infrastructure to contend with, short shelf-life of craft beer and smaller budgets compared to big Beer manufacturers like United Breweries, Ab InBev and Carlsberg that together control 90% stake in the market. As a result, many microbreweries are planning to come out with longer surviving variants like Hefeweizen, Stout and Light Golden Ale, while others are opting for the more expensive can format.

 

Craft Cocktails – a new trend

With taste buds of Bangaloreans evolving over time, microbreweries are gradually targeting niche spirits and cocktails. Big Brewski Brewing Company is planning a craft cocktail bar on its premises soon. Xoox Brewmill is also launching beer cocktails, with cocktails constituting a substantial 35% of their revenues. Investment is substantial for 10,000 sq. ft microbreweries. Hence, a cocktail bar to complement a craft beer pub is less fraught with risk, requires less space and is cheaper to set up and maintain.

Range of craft beer

 

Bangalore’s microbrewery culture augurs well for the future

Whether craft beer retailing & craft cocktails take off or not, the boom continues for microbreweries. Despite duties levied on craft beer, compliance issues, exorbitantly high costs of getting brewpub licenses(unofficially), lengthy series of approvals and running costs, in a couple of years, the number of microbreweries in Bangalore might well touch 100 (leaving cities like Gurugram, Pune, and Mumbai far behind). Thus, the ‘brewpub craze’ continues unabated in India’s microbrewery capital. Cheers to the good times ahead and keep drinking lots of craft beer!

 

 

References:

Pictures courtesy – Unsplash

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