Oh yeah. I also went to India. Noida, specifically, a suburb outside of Delhi. India is not much of a place for good beer. The people there were really nice, but as far as beer, they still have a ways to go. If you remember, Tim wrote about it back in 2010. He went to a couple of brewpubs there, including Howzatt, which is the one that I went to with my friend Rob (but not Rob from Beer Trip fame) during my time in India. I’ll get to that in a bit.
After getting in India, I realized quickly that I should have brought some beer with me. At the hotel, my beer options were Kingfisher, Tuborg, or Carlsberg. Basically my options were three different pale lagers, which isn’t anywhere close to being my favorite style of beer. It was fine for what it was, but after a few days, I was ready for something else. So I talked to Rob, asked him if he wanted to go to a brewpub with me and get better beer, and he was down. So we called a cab, and headed to Gurgaon.
As seemed to be the case in India, whatever ever time that the driver tells you that it will take to get to a place, plan on it being double. The day before, we went to the Taj Mahal, and while it’s a beautiful building and it was a great experience to see it and walk through it, I wasn’t particularly happy about the trip taking almost six hours each way when told that it would be about two and a half hours. So naturally, our “45-minute” ride to Howzatt took an hour and a half.
Howzatt is located in the Galaxy Hotel, which when entering looks more like a mall than a hotel. It was really a nice looking place, very clean, and the brewpub was on the second floor just off the escalator. Inside the brewpub, again I was surprised at how clean everything looked. The brewhouse behind the bar was probably the cleanest I’ve ever seen, with the exception of the one at Liquid Bread Brewing Company in Hays, Kansas. As for the rest of the place, it was a cricket-themed bar with several HDTVs showing cricket or other sports. Luckily when we were there, we got to watch Olympic boxing where an India boxer was fighting, although Rob and I seemed to be the only ones interested. (He won, by the way, but since it wasn’t cricket, few people cared).
Rob and I sat at the bar, and after the ride, we skipped the samples and dove right into full mugs of their beers. The first one we ordered was Doosra, a pale lager. As I stated earlier, that is not one of my favorite styles, and having been drinking the same style for the previous week, I figured I’d get that one over with. To my surprise, the Doosra was actually really, really good. I really enjoyed it, and much more than any of the other beers that week. Rob enjoyed it a lot too, and we finished it pretty quickly.
Next up for us, we tried the Googly, a wheat beer. Another beer that isn’t one of my favorite styles, but again, Howzatt pulled it off. Rob agreed, and again, it didn’t last us very long. It was very tasty and extremely drinkable.
Bouncer was the last beer we ordered, and it was the one I was looking the most forward to, mainly because it was different than anything else. It was their “dark beer” (a Vienna-style lager), and it looked really good. Luckily, it tasted the same. I really, really enjoyed it. Rob did too, although I think the Doosra was still his favorite. Bouncer was definitely my favorite, and I only wish they sold growlers of it that I could have taken back to our hotel. But since that wasn’t the case, we just hung out and had a couple of more before heading back.
It was easily my favorite place in India. Well, second probably, behind the Taj Mahal, although it was a lot easier to get to, plus I got to drink beer there. I’m pretty sure that Rob agreed, as he went back there a couple of weeks later with a group of guys who arrived after I returned home. I am not sure if I will be going back to India anytime soon, but I know for sure that if I do, I’ll definitely hit Howzatt again. Probably a couple of times.
I was very happy.