For a heady brew

Watering holes

For a heady brew

To outsiders and insiders alike, Bangalore will always be associated with its pub culture. But a unique addition in the recent past has been the growth of the City’s microbrewery culture, with new ones coming up every few months. Some of the popular ones include The Biere Club, Toit, Windmills Craftworks and Arbor Brewing Company while the more recent ones are U4IA, Prost and Barleyz to name a few. 

“Bangalore has a well-travelled population which is aware that there is more to beer than a few popular brands. Our customers surprisingly know exactly what they want and even draw comparisons between beers. Since beer is a common man’s drink and the pricing isn’t a barrier, microbreweries attract everybody. Also, the 10,000 square feet requirement to start a microbrewery means that one can do a lot with the space. But this is still a very new trend and more of a fad currently. We have to see how it pans out over time,” explains Ajay Nagarajan, CEO of Windmills Craftworks.

Sibi Venkataraju, co-founder of Toit, agrees that this could be a passing fad. “It’s too early to say whether the driving force for customers is the availability of crafted beer itself. But I don’t think the pub culture is being replaced because the good ones continue to do reasonably well. The two cultures will go hand in hand because people don’t want the same experience every time they go out,” he says.

Even pub owners don’t see this as a threat. Bhuvan Singh, owner of Guzzlers Inn, says, “The draft beer culture isn’t going anywhere because there are enough regulars who are used to it. So while many are trying out the microbreweries, the number of places serving draft beer is much more. At the end of the day, it’s about individual tastes.”Elongoven, manager of Pecos Pub, adds, “It’s not like our sales have reduced since the microbreweries came up. The pub culture can’t be replaced because there are always going to be people who pick a small but affordable pub over say, a brewery serving banana beer. People will try out the breweries but most will come back to the pubs.”

Youngsters have varying opinions on the trend. “I don’t think Bangalore going from being a pub city to microbrewery city has any implication. The demand exists for both and therefore it is being met. Personally, I prefer pubs because Bangalore has very average breweries. I would go to a brewery’s a place for an occasion whereas a pub is more casual. You walk in, grab a pint and walk out and that casual quotient is what seals the deal for me,” says Shantanu Verma, a professional. 

Praveen Balachander, on the other hand, sees the increasing number of microbreweries as a great sign. “I love the fact that beer, the most affable alcoholic drink, can also exhibit refinement. Just because it’s weaker in concentration doesn’t mean it needs to be pedestrian in character. Beers can be bitter, bold, brisk and even tangy with the right flavour infusions and brewing craft,” he opines.

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