Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Toit Brewpub





My paying job sent me to India for a third time, but this trip I was fortunate enough to be sent to Bangalore (Bengaluru). Being the person I am, as soon as I found this out I looked to see if there were any breweries or brewpubs I could visit while there. Bangalore is the home base of United Breweries, makers of Kingfisher, but wasn't too interested in that. I found two that were true craft breweries. I sent both of them messages asking if it were possible to visit and see their brewery or even meet the brewer. Sibi from Toit replied back very quickly (impressively so, considering it was a Facebook message) letting me know when I could come by, the other gave a generic response about a 10AM formal tour and 3 course lunch. Sounds nice, but working nights here, that time was way too early. So I decided Toit would be where I stopped.
Toit is located on 100 Foot Rd which I found out is one of the higher-end retail areas of the city. I arrived and immediately name dropped, asking if Sibi was available. He was busy at the moment so they sat me and I ordered their special brew, Pataka, which is a brown ale. Excellent flavor, and was not as heavy in the mouthfeel as browns can tend to be. I was waiting on a former colleague of mine from Delhi that had changed jobs and moved to Bangalore before I ordered food. Except for being marked as “veg” and “non-veg” it could have been from any place in the US. BBQ chicken, pizza, potato skins. All the things that make a spoiled American feel at home. Sibi was still busy and my friend hadn’t shown up yet so I ordered their Colonial Bitter. It was excellent, bordering on pale ale territory. Around that time my friend Sudarshan arrived, followed immediately by Sibi.

We got through the pleasantries, and started talking beer. Toit was started by Sibi and two of his life-long friends and an investor. The name has a fortunate double meaning. He explained that originally it was a joke among the friends from the Austin Powers movies, where there’s the line “Tight as a tiger” with tight pronounced toit. Also, in local slang, tight means drunk or feeling good. He brought over their brewer, Matthew. He’s native Irish, but immigrated to the US and served in the military, then moved to Denmark. Currently he lives in the Philippines, but took the job in Bangalore a few months ago, and considers himself semi-retired. They brought me over samplers of their other beers, a red, a weiss, and a stout. They said the stout is the number one beer women order there. I told them they must have great taste because I ordered a full glass of it. Matthew also went back and got a sampler of their Tintin from the fermenter which is their hefe. I’m normally not a fan of hefes, but it was fantastic. I also learned that originally Bangalore was used by the British as a military headquarters. They started United Breweries there to have beer for themselves, and as the city grew it became a destination for people to come and have draft beer, which was a rarity in India. So there’s a brewing tradition in the city that I had no idea about.

Sud and I ordered some pizzas and while they cooked, Sibi and Matthew showed us around the brewpub. It has 3 levels. The middle level is a bar that’s opened up in the evenings when it gets busier. The top level has two sides. One side is a more family-friendly dining area, the other side has a bar that allows smoking and the pizza ovens which are wood-fired are located. We saw our pizzas pulled out so we headed back down to eat. The pizzas were great, the best I’ve had in my trips to India.

We finished stuffing our pie holes, and Sibi came to say goodbye as he had to get home. Matthew came over and sat with us talked for a good hour about his travels, experiences, and the future of the brewpub. The place was busy from the time I got there at 2 in the afternoon until we left around 7 in the evening, and was getting even busier. Obviously it’s struck a chord with the local population. I don’t know if I’ll ever get a chance to return to Bangalore, but if I do, Toit is a must-stop location. I can’t recommend it enough. Great beers, great food, great building, and great people. Even on the other side of the planet, the same culture and friendliness we in the US have come to know in the beer community exists.