Brewbot’s Epic Craft Beer Weekender
Mumbai correction Bombay may have been late to the Craft Beer scene but like all things Bombay and Bollywood that means nothing. Since 2014, there have been several Craft Beer festivals at public venues such as malls and race tracks but never a meet up at one brewpub.
Yes, in December 2015, seven brewpubs had brought their beer to Independence Brewing Co in Pune for a special closed event when the legendary Greg Koch from Stone Brewing decided to visit. I had the privilege of attending that event and it was indeed epic but a private event.
The number of brewpubs in Bombay or rather Craft Beer options is steadily increasing with a combination of brewpubs, tap rooms & regular bars/pubs/restaurants serving up Craft Beer on tap. Andheri West has already become the Craft Beer mile with a few more tap rooms opening soon.
The partners at Brewbot decided it was time to have a small get together and invite some of the Craft Brewers from Bombay and Pune to have a little weekend fest and that’s how the Craft Beer Weekender came into being – 6 Craft Breweries with 26 Craft Beers on tap, games, activities, food & merchandise. The dates chosen August 6&7 were perfect – the weekend right after International Beer Day and International IPA Day.
This was definitely an event I wasn’t going to miss out on and sure enough I was able to work out a way to get to Bombay to attend the event come rain or shine thanks to the folks at Brewbot & Effingut.
Traveling is something I enjoy and has now become a regular part of my calendar. I’ve chalked out a routine which is normally like this:
- Web Check In the night before & select a seat in the rear of the aircraft. (ask me why if you’re curious).
- Check in at least 2 hours prior. Thanks to the Jet Airways frequent flier program, my baggage allowance is 20kgs which gives me the flexibility to carry bottles or glassware.
- Wing my way to one of the lounges – get a bite to eat, have a few coffees and stock up on water bottles.
- Head to the gate once boarding has commenced.
Day 1 – August 6
09:00 am The flight to Mumbai this time was a little bumpy – nothing unusual considering the low pressure systems due to monsoons. Our approach into Bombay was IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) meaning we were flying through clouds and around thunderstorms. We had to hold for the weather to improve but finally managed to land.
Here’s a clip I uploaded to Instagram:
*Tap for Sound* 🛫👏👍 . Saturday's flight into Mumbai was indeed IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) and we had to hold for a break in weather. Being a former pilot helps keep you calm in bumpy weather! . Good job by the Jet Airways Flight Crew. My chosen airline for all my domestic travel in India thanks to their wonderful frequent flyer program. Racking up miles, priority check ins, extra baggage allowance always comes in handy! Thank you @jetairways. Cheers. . . #talesoffroth #jetairways #jetwings #avgeek #boeing #737 #737nG #IMC #flying #weather #landing #approach #rain #thunderstorms #airline #india #mumbai #timelapse #throwback #trailsoffroth
12:00 pm – Terminal 2 at Mumbai is well appointed but rather large. Thirty minutes or so after landing, I was on my way to Andheri West in an auto (getting an Uber can be a bit of a task) heading towards Andheri West hoping it wouldn’t rain.
02:00 pm – Bombay’s traffic and a bit of rain delayed my trip but I finally arrived at Brewbot and bumped into some of my friends from Pune right outside. When Craft Beer enthusiasts meet, there is always an sense of excitement. We are always happy to see each other and talk about what else? Beer!
The folks at Hipcask had prepared a lovely map for the event complete with a neat floor plan including where to find all the Beers on tap. 26 Beers from Brewbot, Gateway Brewing Co, The White Owl, Effingut Brewerkz, Independence Brewing Co and Doolally. Gateway Brewing Co and Brewbot had the maximum number of Beers on tap – 6 each.
The lower level had all the breweries showcase their beers whilst the upper level was reserved for our beer enthusiasts meet up & Hipcask’s activities – a blind beer tasting session. The covered lower level patio had stalls for food and beer merchandise.
The next hour was spent trying out a few beers and greeting brewers, owners and other beer enthusiasts. I had two days to try and sample as many beers as possible. I’ll collate a list of my favorite beers from the lot at the end of this post.
03:00-04:00 pm – Beer enthusiasts from Bombay and Pune and one from Bangalore (me) met to do a small sampling session and shoot the breeze.
My friend and fellow Beer enthusiasts, Ravi, was kind enough to gift me a set of prints he had made. If you’re interested in these prints, please follow his Instagram handle @homebrewingindia and give him a shout or place an order.
04:00-09:00 pm – It started to pour outside but that didn’t stop people from pouring in. People were having a great time trying out different beers – brilliant!
09:00pm – close – Hipcask did their blind tasting session which was a lot harder than it appears. You had to guess what style and which brewery six beers came from. I was able to correctly guess 3 of them. By this time, I was already a few pints down and listening to other people’s opinions certainly adds to the confusion!
I decided to get in on the action and help the Effingut guys out behind the taps. Pouring out of a bottle and tap have their differences but the principle is the same – 1 inch or two fingers of Froth!
What fun is it if you can’t dance? After sampling a few beers and having Brewbot’s Disco Fries, we just had to dance, the Happy Craft Beer Dance or Hoppy Craft Beer Dance – you decide!
*Tap for Sound* . Doing the Happy Craft Beer Dance behind the taps with the Effingut @effingut_brewerkz crew at last weekend's Craft Beer Weekender at Brewbot Mumbai @brewbotmumbai . That's how you do it! 😉🍻 . Thank you Manu M @mutantsanta for capturing this! . #talesoffroth #brewbot #effingut #unity4craft #craftbeerweekender #craftbeer #craftbeergeek #craftbeerporn #brewpub #festival #happydance #taps #instabeer #beergram #beerstagram #andheriwest #mumbai #bombay #india
Day 2 – August 7
Day 2 was a bit slower than Day 1 in general, so no timelines just descriptions!
Manu Misra from Effingut was kind enough to let me crash at his apartment and when in Bombay, you must wake up to Vada Pav and Samosa Pav. After getting some fuel in our bellies, we headed out to Brewbot.
Hipcask also had another cool activity for everyone – a crowd sourced beer. These results will be interesting to make a note of. Let’s see what Bombay’s Craft Beer fans want! They also had offer on their uber cool Beer Passport – a virtual passport that gets you Craft Beer at multiple outlets for less. Damn it Bangalore, why did you shoot down Hipcask’s Beer Passport?
As the afternoon progressed, the sampling continued and people made their appearances – famous ones! I got to meet the one and only Sahil Makhija from Headbangers Kitchen and the band Demonic Resurrection. We talked about Alfie – the mango infused ale from White Owl and about other fruit based concoctions.
Festival like these means you get to notice some funny things amongst the Craft Beer fraternity. Independence Brewing Co’s fearless leader Shailly was spotted savoring Gateway Brewing’s Sidecar Cider even though their banner clearly said “No fermented Apple Juice”. Well done Gateway and 3 Cheers to Shailly for being a sport! Bravo.
If Effingut’s Manu Misra is around, then you know a chugging contest is bound to happen. I knew I’d be beat but that didn’t stop us from taking part. Chugging down Gateway’s White Zen is not exactly how a Craft Beer should be savored but anyhow, here’s what down! Look at the man go – the Beer is gone in just over 2 secs!!!
The whole purpose of the Weekender was to get folks to sample a wide array of brews and figure out impressions.
Here are my personal favorites from each of the 6 craft breweries represented:
- Brewbot – The Mystery Pale Ale had to be the winner. The juicy and spicy dry hopped aroma and flavor really made this brew shine. It’s not overly bitter but a great way to get your nose and palate adjusted to hops. If this isn’t available, pick the Mojo Rising – their American Pale Ale – malt forward with a bit of hop character but balanced overall.
- Independence Brewing Co – Yes, the Nitro bitter was interesting but for whatever reason, it couldn’t maintain carbonation and went flat pretty fast. The clear winner here is their cocoa nib infused Ixcacao Stout – chocolate in your face, straight up, smooth and creamy, full bodied nitro goodness. This is a Stout you can have for breakfast with your nutella pancackes. I was hoping for a super hoppy IPA from Independence but will wait till their taproom opens in Andheri West in the next few weeks.
- Effingut Brewerkz – The winner here is their Ginger Lemon Mead – Sweet and tangy at the same time, this sweet nectar is what will earn you brownie points with the ladies and true enough this is the brew that sold out at the end of Day 1 along with their Hefeweizen. Meads are wonderful fermented honey based brews that can have a combination of fruits infused in them. It’s a delight to see a brewpub brewing a mead.
- Gateway Brewing Co – This festival saw the last of the beloved A1,single hop Chinook IPA, which is a shame but you have to give the public what they want. However the SideCar Cider and Hoppy Pils came to the rescue. This new cider from Gateway is tart, crisp and not overly sweet – hence balanced. The Hoppy Pils makes up for the boring lagers & pilsners we get at the stores by adding a dose of hoppy goodness to it. Well done Gateway.
- Doolally – Crafty Suketu and talented brewmaster Oliver always have meticulously made Beers to flaunt and this weekend was no exception. Being a huge fan of trappist ales and Belgian funky yeast, the clear winner here was the Abbey Tripel. Never mind the ABV’s, you’ve got to appreciate the malt forward character of this beer with a hint of sweetness and Belgian funk from the yeast strain used. A few too many of these will make you go Doolally.
- The White Owl – Sink the fleet with the Torpedo – the American Pale Ale. Yes, the Belgian Wit and Alfie their Mango ale are interesting but let’s stay Hoppy shall we? The Torpedo has the right character and is not very high on the IBU scale but you can taste that hoppy goodness with ever sip.
Both days were a success with 500-700 footfalls on Saturday and a good steady turnout on Sunday. A big shout out to the guys at Brewbot for organizing this event. There were no hiccups and everything went according to plan. The bonus was seeing folks run out of Beer – a clear sign that this festival was a success. I am confident that this weekender brought more awareness to Craft Beer.
Independence Brewing, Effingut Brewerkz, Gateway Brewing Co, Doolally, The White Owl & Hipcask – give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done. A special thank you to each one of you guys for all the camaraderie and hospitality that goes beyond words. Cheers!
Mumbai may have been late to the Craft Beer scene but with events like this and the number of new taprooms and brewpubs opening in the next 12 months will see this city rise up as a Craft Beer destination. Now that’s exciting.
After 2 days of absolute Craft Beer bliss it was time to board my Jet Airways flight and head back to Namma Uru.
One can only hope that Bangalore really does pull its socks up and organizes some sort of Craft Beer festival in the weeks to come. We are pushing for Beer Week Bangalore to become a reality and hopefully there will be several reasons to be merry this September, in Bangalore.
Cheers and Stay Frothy
JJ The Keg
All Images Courtesy: Brewbot & the rest of the participants at the Craft Beer Weekender & Tales Of Froth