Scores of microbreweries and craft brew pubs have opened their doors in the city for the past decade.

Brewery Industry
news Food Tuesday, August 31, 2021 - 17:35

Wheat beer? IPA? Belgian wit? Bengaluru beer lovers are very familiar with these names, as craft brewing has taken over the city in the past decade. There are dozens of microbreweries and craft brew pubs across the city, and the number seems to be growing every month.

The News Minute took a trip across the city to look behind the scenes and meet the people behind some of Bengaluru’s favourite craft beers, from the legendary Toit in Indiranagar to the beer garden and distribution brewery Geist on Old Madras Road.

While Bengaluru has been known as a pub city for years, another iconic part of the city helped spur the craft beer movement’s growth: traffic. “Craft beer and microbreweries becoming a neighborhood thing is partly due to the legendary Bangalore traffic, which made commutes so difficult and time consuming that people wanted to go somewhere within 15-20 minutes of where they stay,” beer consultant Akash Hirebet said.  

Craft breweries started in the centre of Bengaluru but many began to spread out to other residential areas, including Koramangala, Sarjapur, South Bangalore and JP Nagar.

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But let’s start at the beginning. It’s hard to talk about beer culture in Bengaluru without mentioning Kingfisher and Vijay Mallya. One was that he, of course, introduced draft beer or beer on tap to the city in the late 80s, maybe early 90s,” said Akash. “And secondly, he actually worked with the government and convinced them to allow bars to directly buy the beer from the brewery rather than it being routed through the government distribution centers.”

The explosion of microbreweries in Bengaluru began about a decade ago with The Biere Club on Lavelle Road. Arvind and Meenakshi Raju were pioneers in getting licenses done that would allow them to make and serve their own beer. It also helped introduce the city to new styles of beer, at a time when there was little other than commercial lagers available.

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“What Biere Club did, at least in South India, was to elevate the status of beer. We introduced a lot of new styles, whether it was a stout, or an IPA, American pale ales, the wheat beer, for example, a lot of fruit beers. Essentially, what we tried to do was expand the people's palates,” said head brewer Rohit Parwani.

Toit, one of the city’s best known microbreweries, began with two wheat beers on their line-up back in 2011, much before they realised that Indian beer drinkers have an affinity for that side of beer, said co-founder Sibi Venkataraju.

Geist CEO and co-founder Narayan Manepally noted that they rely on familiarity in determining the styles that would suit the Indian palate. “Blonde has estery notes that we are familiar with. A hefeweizen, for example, is banana and clove. A Belgian witbier for example has orange peel and coriander.”

Craft beer now has a firm hold on Bengaluru drinking culture and brewers feel that it’s a relationship that will continue for years to come.

“Microbreweries and Bangalore was a match made in heaven. It was just something that had to happen,” Sibi said

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