Bira 91 joins the beer party in Bengaluru with its first taproom

For the five-year anniversary this year, the folks at Bira 91 decided to do something different. Sure, they could have launched a new beer, but why enjoy one new variant for months on end when you can enjoy a new brew every week?

With this in mind, Bira 91 has opened its first Limited Release Taproom in the country in the beer capital of Bengaluru, with the aim of directly connecting with customers and using their feedback to determine which new brew will find a place on the menu and which can be bottled and sold nationally. (Taprooms offer their own specialty beers; pubs usually just serve bottled fare on tap.)

Formerly home to The Beer Café (which is managing operations for the new venture), the taproom in Koramangala is spread across a spacious 3,500 square feet. Not a lot has changed in terms of décor, which is for erstwhile regulars at The Beer Café to either appreciate or disparage. The high ceiling with Mangalore tiles is still there in the main area; it’s just that now it sports the Bira 91 logo. With visible metal framework, an unpainted brick wall on one side, wood-top bar and wooden furniture, and of course, the Bira mascot in all its colours on another wall, the vibe is a little industrial yet warm. There is also an al fresco area, complete with plants and coconut trees. The upstairs area is where you can kick off your shoes (perhaps, not literally) and shoot pool or lounge on the sofa outside.

Did someone say jowar beer?
  • Says Thomas Hartman, “So, Ankur Jain (founder of Bira 91) challenged me to launch a beer every week. That’s a lot of different beers to come up with. I had to think about how to compartmentalise it and start working on themes. One theme that we’re going to be doing is a lager exploration series, under which we will be playing with unique Indian grains like jowar. We’re also going to be playing around a lot with unique Indian fruits. That will mostly be either with sour beer or wheat beer, and we will be injecting different types of fruits into them. Another thing we really want to do is hand over the keys to the brewers and if they want to come up with something, we definitely have the capacity to encourage that.”

As for the star attraction, there are a total of 20 taps (more than the average). This means that apart from Bira’s regular portfolio of beers that includes White, Blonde, Light, Strong, and Boom, new brews will be created and transported on a regular basis from the microbrewery in Mysore to the taproom.

For now, among your choices is the mango lassi (yes, you read that right), a concoction that takes your favourite summer drink and amps it up to make, well, your other favourite summer drink. It also comes in a nitro version, which is far frothier. The Malabar stout, which also comes in a nitro version, is meant to mimic cold brew with alcohol, while the pomegranate champagne rose, created to mark the anniversary, is fermented with champagne yeast and pomegranate juice. But the most popular beer since the launch has been the West Coast IPA, inspired by crisp, bitter and hoppy brews from the American west coast, the first batch of which quickly ran out.

Says Thomas Hartman, vice-president, brewing and innovation, with a laugh, “I think we learned that the hard way with the West Coast IPA. We sold it all on the first night and were like ‘okay, we need to brew this immediately’. Based on the success, that’s the beer we think we want to have as the house beer.”

Bira 91 joins the beer party in Bengaluru with its first taproom

He adds, “At the microbrewery, we have four tanks or fermenters and each one is of five-hectolitre capacity. We can rotate them so we can do about four different beers a month. So, we can pretty much crank out a new beer every week. Depending on the beer, the brewing process takes anywhere from two to four weeks.”

Far from seeing the number of microbreweries in Bengaluru (over 60) as a disadvantage, Thomas welcomes it. “We are looking at this less as a competition and more like a party we want to join. Now there’s a lot of activity in Bengaluru and we want to get in there and engage with the customers and beer brewers. Specialty beer (sector) in India is relatively new but it’s similar to everywhere else in that it’s kind of a community. If brewers aren’t in dialogue with each other and trying each other’s stuff, then it just won’t evolve as quickly.”

Beer prices start at ₹135 for a 330ml glass of Bira 91 Boom. Other alcohol is also available, as is food. Bira 91 Limited Release Taproom is located at 33, 80 Feet Road, 4th Block, Nirguna Mandir Layout, Cauvery Colony, Koramangala. 8929188568

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 6:54:25 PM |

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