Merak Brewhouse by JW Marriott launched in Bengaluru

A little higher up from the glitz of the hotel lobby, tucked away by the pool, right next to Spice Terrace, JW Marriott now has a microbrewery, which launched early February. And even as they touch up on the finer details, the beers are good to go. 

Named Merak (Serbian for bliss), this casual space is dressed up to look like a beer garden, which, according to Karthik Singh, Merak’s brewmaster, adding to the relaxed vibe of the environment. 

The space is designed to be reminiscent of beer gardens

The space is designed to be reminiscent of beer gardens

The menu at the moment is simple; it includes a Belgian Whitbier, an IPA, a Kolsch and the Winter Warmer (a spiced beer). “We wanted to go with traditional flavours, to begin with. Witbier, for instance, is popular across the world. An IPA too. But as we go forward, we will throw in other flavours, get experimental with seasonal ingredients,” Singh reveals. 

In 2019, JW Marriott Bengaluru had launched the original version of Merak in the same space. Labelled an ‘urban oasis’, it was meant to give guests a comfortable space to unwind, bringing in the outdoorsy feeling, indoors. But while the new version of Merak looks quite similar, if not identical, the feel is a lot different, probably due to the large tanks of beer one gets to see as they walk in. 

Karthik Singh, Merak’s brewmaster

Karthik Singh, Merak’s brewmaster | Photo Credit: Priyadarshini Nandy

And what’s even better, these delicious crafts are priced fairly competitively. At ₹350 for a 500ml serving, it matches almost any decent microbrewery in the city. “We wanted it to keep it that way, especially to encourage the brewery frequenters. You may not always want to go to a five-star hotel to eat an expensive meal, but the microbrewery becomes an attractive proposition, more so for the younger generations. It’s not expensive and yet they get to go to a luxury five-star hotel, whether for a casual night out or to celebrate an occasion. If you want to celebrate your birthday at a microbrewery, you get that with the five-star hotel service and other frills,” Karthik Singh adds. On frills, the food menu at Merak is a combination of Asian dishes and brewhouse grub, but served in style. From sharing platters that include baguettes, lavache and crudites served with housedips and tempura and gyozas to sliders and cheese and/or charcuterie boards, the prices range from ₹350 to ₹650. 

Circling back to the beers, the brewmaster tells us that craft beer is called craft for a reason. Making decent beer is not too hard if you know what to do, but a truly good beer requires a lot of expertise. Not to forget a brewmaster’s touch, which is what can make each beer unique. For instance, when it comes to fruit-infused beers, Singh won’t throw fruit into the brew while it is fermenting. “My way is to wait till the beer is finished and then add the juice of the fruit and I won’t let it sit for too long after that,” Singh explains. 

Or how with the spiced ale, or the Winter Warmer, he has played with spices with great finesse to create a full-bodied flavour that does not take anything away from the essential taste of beer. The IPA too, despite being one of the stronger brews, teases your palate with the hints of citrus that’s gone into it. So you will taste grapefruit and orange that last in your mouth long enough before the bitterness kicks in. 

“Even the hops you use in your beer, or the yeast adds to the final product,” he tells us. Singh definitely plans to up the game over the next few months. “We are looking forward to summer! It gives us the opportunity to play with seasonal ingredients. We are looking at more refreshing flavours to go with the weather and I plan to make some Saison with mangoes and cucumber,” says Singh, adding that he is already working on a few recipes, and that is all he will say.

Saison, also known as farmhouse ale, originated in southern Belgium, a type that Karthik Singh is quite partial to. “In the old days, the farmers who brewed their beer would just leave the brew out. Sometimes they didn’t even add yeast and let Nature take its own course, which is also why Saison was often referred to as the ‘Belgian Funk’,” Singh says, explaining how over time, breweries took that flavour and fine-tuned it to create the modern-day Saison. 

“As long as we don’t compromise on quality and keep it real, there is a lot you can do with beer,” the brewmaster reiterates. 

Merak is not the first microbrewery in a five-star hotel in Bengaluru so therefore it definitely does not set a precedent. In fact, it is the brand’s second microbrewery in India, with the first in JW Marriott Chandigarh, which is home to 35 Brew House, a hub for craft beer lovers. “It’s a lot easier to start a microbrewery in a hotel in States such as Maharashtra or West Bengal. In Karnataka, if you have a microbrewery licence, you have to make sure the beer is consumed where it’s made. So we can’t even sell growlers here,” Singh says. A change in that would be most welcome. We agree. 

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2022 1:07:29 pm |