Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Beer Contains Vitamin Pee.." - NYE Party Idea Number Fail

Since my blog is about beers, pubs and awesomeness, I have decided to make my maiden entry about the awesomeness bit of it. So I'm going to gift you guys an idea for a party, as I suppose a whole bunch of you would be sniffing around right about now for a cool house party to crash this NYE. This is a very American frat-house kind of a scene, and let me forewarn you this can get disastrously messy. So try doing it in your best friends house and not yours.

Alright, so getting down to business, this party concept is the most fun when all the invitees are beer drinkers, so step 1 round up all the beer drinking lads and lassies you know. Step 2 once there are about 25-30 people confirmed send out a mass message that they have been cordially invited to a NYE party where they can have free beer all night long subject to a very simple rule. At this point people are going mental - free beer, NYE, villa, strippers... you know how us men usually over-estimate these things. So the simple rule that you cannot flout to get the free beer all night is .... you can't use the restroom... for anything.

So place a couple of bouncers on the door of the loo, each time a bloke has to go empty his feelings in to a pot he has to shell out 500 bucks. And once he has been to the toilet then he has to buy his own drink (at MRP if you like him at Whatever-the-fuck if you don't).

Now us Indians are cheap, so you gotta be on the lookout for people relieving themselves in glasses, flower pots, your friends' ears, your grandma's denture case... if you live in bombay, then you probably don't have to worry about people peeing in your lawn, cuz well, you dont have one. By the end of the night you would have recovered all the money for the booze and then some. With the extra money, hire a cleaner for the people who last till the end and eventually had pee coming out of their ears as the lay motionless on your mum's Pursian rug. Well this can be a fun NY if you include funnels and pipes and beer pong and kegs and shit.

Ah well, Happy New Years.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When In Doubt, Porterhouse...

The Porterhouse in London is like a Lion's Den and you drinkers are timid sheep. You see footprints going in to the Porterhouse but never coming out of it. If there are any marks of exit at all then they are usually drag marks as your mate sweeps you across the floor in to a waiting Black Cab. The Porterhouse is designed to get you knackered.

Cozily tucked in to one of the lanes at Covent Garden, this Irish brew pub is the melting pot of tourists, locals and weird people of all legal drinking ages. The interiors of this pub are made of soft wood, and the basic design of this place is made such that you lose your head trying to figure the way back to your stool after a fag outside. At last count this pub had 4 levels (or not) all sprawling and dark. The darkness of this place is actually a good thing, it kinda makes you feel warm and when you're making stupid faces and/or drooling over your glass and/or orgasming as you're taking a leak where you're standing because the queue to the loo is too long; nobody can see you.

The pub boasts of a stock of about 300 beers from around the world, they have a 'Little Black Book' of Beer which lists out all the beers available at the pub along with their ABV and the major ingredients and what country they belong to. Under India they have Cobra, which is actually British, but is heavily promoted as a beer that goes well with Indian food. It's partially true because of the taste and crispiness but partially because most lagers go well with Indian food (just like Luckies claim 'It's Toasted!', so is every other ciggarette). There's also an urban legend that The Porterhouse will give you a free pint if they don't have the beer of your choice. But they've always had the beer of my choice so couldn't ever test the claim.

What's sad, though, is that all the foreign beers here are in the placid penis bottles (small bottles or pints as they are called in India) so if you're drinking a South African Castle, you'll get that taste of glycerin and the harshness on the throat that goes with it. But you don't go to the Porterhouse to drink bottled beers, oh no sir, you go there for their tap, and the tap is gooood.

These guys have about 9 of their signature beers on tap, I'll list out the ones I have tried first and then the rest :

Brainblasta (7%) - Copper-colored hoppy ale, very strongly fermented and primary reason for having wild sex with the floor.

Chiller (4.2%) - My MOST favourite Lager in the world. No kidding. American-styled awesomeness.

Oyster (4.8%) - Competitor to the Guinness stout, very nice indeed, almost identical.

Porterhouse Red (4.4%) - Irish styled traditional Red Ale. Acquired Taste. I didn't like it too much.

Temple Brau (4.3%) - More hoppy than the Chiller Lager. German and Dutch styled pilsner. I prefer the Chiller to this one for sure.

The other beers on tap produced by the Porterhouse Brewing Co are Plain (Light Stout), Hersbrucker (Pilsner), TSB (Pale Ale) and Wrasslers (Heavy Stout).

The Porterhouse is a treat to all your senses; visual, olfactory and the innate sense to get supremely wasted. There are empty beer bottles displayed on all windows so each time you get the urge to interact with the outside world all you see is the emptiness of the beer bottle and you suddenly find yourself at the bar spluttering incomprehensible words to the bartender, in the end all you can do is point at a beer and smile.

The good lads at the Porterhouse also make a mean fare, so if you ever go, don't forget to indulge in their finger food. The original Porterhouse branch is called the Temple Bar, located in Dublin (the place with the best Guinness, better than the brewery!), the food there was by far the best, because my Beef Stew was accompanied by Guinness Bread :D I'll probably write a post on that as soon as I can remember that day....or night. (Fuck Dublin!)

More than the beers, its the amazing times I've had at the Porterhouse, London that makes it such a dear place to me; be it St. Patricks Day, end of exams or simply whenever we've been in doubt about choosing a place for drinks. The fact that Covent Garden is my most favorite place in London just adds to the experience.

Rating : 8/10
Address : 21-22 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2 E7NA

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Yabba Dabba Doooolally - The Microbrewery Experience at Pune

The Kingdom of Hindustan was being ruled by the evil Lord Mallaya and his allies the Danish Carlsberg, the American Bud and the most evil of them all... the urinary Australian. These were dark times and the people were subject to unspeakable torment. Peasants and Artisans and Traders worked day in and day out to come back home to the monstrosities of stale, ugly beer. Their prayers went mostly unheard. Any attempt to start a revolution was cruelly quashed by the evil lords like in the case of the Lodnon Pilsner. There was no light in sight.

A group of dog-tired slaves met up one day conspicuously in the dead of night to discuss the rumours they had heard that a revolution had started in the far away land of Pune. Rumour had it that they brewed fresh beer, served it in pints using real raw materials and fresh water. It sounded too good to be true. To find out they had to take a perilious journey to the heart of Pune, but the peril was worth dying for.

So it was decided then, at the break of dawn they would set out on their mission to make contact with the Pune revolutionaries. They embarked on their horses and galloped away. Destination Corinthian Boutique Hotel.

The property is a palace in its own right, set atop a tiny hill enabling a beautiful view of the city. The pub where the microbrewery is located - Smokies - has an atrocious looking blow-up bear at its entrance, giving a very Texan feel to the place (not one of the strongest points). The pub is divided into an inside and an outside area. Pune air is usually chilled so sitting outside would've been a good idea if you went there in a small group. We were 8 however, so we decided to sit inside.

Right behind the main door of the Pub is the production area of the microbrewery where massive aluminium machines stand intimidatingly behind glass walls. The Pub does tours on only two days in the week at specific times, so check in advance before you head out.

Getting down to business we hit the bar as soon as we were alloted a table. A customary tasting of beers on offer followed. The first beer I tried was the Dunkelweizen (Bavaria), a German dark wheat beer (Dunkel = dark weizen = wheat). Very impressive, nice undertones, very complex and it was fresh :). I liked what I saw but I wanted more so next in line was the Cider. Now, I like Cider sometimes, usually when I'm outdoors on a summer day sitting on grass, otherwise its just not my drink. The Cider at Doolally was average, I particularly did not like the aftertaste but the Cider drinker in my group gobbled 5 pints so I guess it wasnt that bad afterall.

Ze Menu

Then I had my favourite beer of the night, the Wheat Beer. I fell in love at the sight of the slightly opaque golden texture of the beer. The nose was mild, not too much of a head the fizz was consistent and the aftertaste was what did it for me. It left a lingering bitter note on the palette without causing the itchiness as in the Cider. Absolutely awesome, especially with good Pub Grub (more on that later). This was followed by the Kolsch (Cologne), the most noticeable thing about the Kolsch is it's prominent bitterness lent by the hops. It's a very personal choice between the Kolsch and the Wheat, and I was leaning more towards the Wheat. Lastly we tried their Lager. Ho-hum is all I can say about that.

At the table, I called for a pint of every beer except the Cider and the Lager. And then ended the night with a last pint of Wheat. The food at Smokies was outstanding, we started off with Chicken Wings and an Oriental Platter of Starters with House Fries. The most epic dish was the Mutton Raan, which complimented my Wheat beer like Cinderella's frickin Slippers. There's just something about combining good beer with Indian Food.

Boring Interiors

Now for the negatives, as I mentioned earlier, the decor of the place is definitely a downer. It looks like any other branch of TGIF/Ruby Tuesday/HRC going for the whole American pub schbang. I find it highly unoriginal and downright contemptuous to decorate your walls with dead rock star memorabilia and posters. The waiters, though friendly, could be better trained. The music was stolen from the worst HRC DJ and put on loop on a 30 minute frequency and when we politely requested the manager to reduce the atrociously loud volume he retorted in a heavy south indian accent "This (volume) dont go down saar (sir) this only go up." Ahh Cheers Dude.

But all this did not take away from the fact that these guys know their stuff and they are doing a fabulous job of providing us with fresh, gelatin-free, tasty beer. Long Live Revolution Down With The Other Shit.

Ratings :-
Wheat Beer : 7.5/10
Kolsch : 6.5/10
Dunkelweizen : 7/10
Food : 7/10
Decor & Ambeince : 3/10
All in all : A very prominent brick in the beer wall
Link :
Address : The Corinthians Boutique Hotel,Nyati County, NIBM Annexe, South Pune, Maharashtra, India.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Pilgrimage - Guinness at St. James Gate

Note : Before I even begin this post I would like to bring to your attention that I do not consider myself worthy enough, talented enough, or competent enough to review the Guinness Stout. This is just a narrative of my experience at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.

There once lived a man called Arthur Guinness in the Kingdom of Ireland, he was the king of awesomeness and as a gift to the world he made Guinness Dry Stout at the St. James' Gate Brewery in Dublin. He was so awesome that he leased this humongous property for 9000 years at a princely sum of £45 a year, applicable till date. The first shipment out of this brewery were 6 and a half barrels of stout to England. Today the brewery makes 82.9 million hectolitres of the black stuff in 50 million barrels.

Osama's Nailed It..

The Guinness Storehouse (read as: the brewery tour) is a 7 storeyed extravaganza chronicling the history of the founder of this great beverage and of the brewery itself. It takes you through the various processes in making the Guinness though you only get glimpses of the actual brewing process. There is a part in the tour where a small shot glass of Guinness comes to you on a conveyor belt, its not fully ready to be served its still work in progress but it comes on a frickin conveyor belt !!! :D Also you get to taste the malted barley before it is processed, that way every time you drink your pint you can very easily break down the taste into its constituents and if you're cool enough you'll even be able to figure out whether your Guinness has been adulterated or served stale.

At the end of the tour is the 360 degree bar at the top floor where you can claim your complimentary Guinness. Its the end of your journey and all you have is your pint and your liver. The pretty lil bartender(ess) does the whole 6 step Guinness pouring business, but it doesn't matter that she's a 36 double D, "Give me the godamneeed pint already". It comes to you, the temptation of gulping it down on the frickin spot. But no you must let it settle, for at least 3 minutes. So you take your glass to the table and wait for the ruby red to shimmer through the glass. And then you take the sip.

On a rainy winter day, the grey Dublin becomes Arthur's Wonderland. Its pure ecstacy you feel at the top. All you can do is smile. Though to be fair, this wasn't the best Guinness I have tasted. That title goes to the Temple Bar in Dublin.

Guinness Fact : Poor Students in London are known to substitute a pint of Guinness for meals on a number of occasions. Guinness is good for you, seriously!

Link :

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kronenbo...urg Blanc!

The first ever time I tried a Kronenbourg Lager was at The Dublin Castle Pub in Camden Town, London. On tap this is a really decent substitute to a Carlsberg, though it is owned by the latter. Kronenbourg is French, now that means different things to different people. To me the French make horrible beer period.

The Dublin Castle

Trivial Trivia - Stella Artois (French) is actually known as the Wife-beater's Beer. Source - Sakepedia

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by the Kronenbourg tap, light, crispy, moderate head and very very edgy. Goes down brilliantly with a cigarette. But its only good on tap, the cans and bottles taste so bad it makes petrol seem like a better option. Irrespective, I tried the Kronenbourg Blanc (White Beer)...

It made me want to go up to the bartender hold him by his collar and vomit the stuff on his face while yelling out expletives and demanding a refund! Oh the blanc was ugly, so ugly. It was like somebody left some cider in a plastic cup at a house party and his drunk friend put some lager into it accidently and then the host of the party took a leak in it and topped the glass off with a lemon. And it cost me £5.50, which, to a poor student is a lot of money.

I don't even wish to waste space on the review of this abomination of a beer. A lot of people seem to like the citric flavors of this beer but frankly it tastes like liquid bubblegum. I dont have too much respect for the Carlsberg group anyway but with the blanc they just proved themselves to be Grade 1 Danish Douchebags, it's one of those pompous attempts at trying to sell you utter shite in the guise of exotic beer.

The concept of white beer is pretty creative. The primary ingredient is wheat which lends it the light color and taste and to that various flavorings are added usually of the citric fruit variety. So what you are supposed to get is fruity lager ideal for summer day sipping. But Kronenbourg lost the plot somewhere and have not been able to find it since 1664 (isnt that what the bottle says?). I'm still open to the White Beer concept, Hoegaarden is a witbier (German) and they do a good job of it especially on tap.

Rating : 2/10

Friday, November 19, 2010

Schneider Weisse vs Jenlain... The Battle of the Crafts

It's great that India is finally embracing the beer culture and opening their minds to international beer. I happened to call for a Schneider-Weisse and a Jenlain at Wasabi on a dinner date with my girlfriend recently. What followed was a curious battle of the crafts in my head that I'm still not able to resolve.

To the uninitiated, craft beer is an off-shoot of the micro-brewery concept where beers are produced more for the taste than mass appeal. Needless to say they are pricey as the demand far exceeds the supply. Traditional methods are employed to produce these beers and they have to be imported from their place of origin as opposed to locally brewed foreign beer.

So in the red corner we have the German, Schneider-Weisse. Made from wheat by German Monks and with an ABV (alcohol by volume) ranging from 5.4% in the original bottle to a whopping 8.2% in the strong dark Aventinus bottle. The one I had was the original; the taste is creamy and its got a splendid nose. It's all in all well-balanced and goes well with meat. It stands pretty in a glass with it's impressive head and amber colour.

In the Blue corner we have the French, Jenlain. Named after a commune in the Nord Department in the North of France, this amber colored craft has a very curious after-taste. It almost leaves a sweet tinge on the palette. Jenlain is produced in a closed-knit family in limited quantities. The Jenlain Ambrée has a 7.5% ABV. Though I have only found pints in India, the big bottles apparently have corks in stead of crowns, I like the respect. Jenlain is made from barley and hops unlike its German nemesis. The beer has a toned-down nose and good head. But I'm not able to decide whether or not I like the sweet after-taste. I guess that depends on the accompanying food. Also its proximity to Belgium makes it taste a bit like Leffe.

So take your pick, both beers are available at Nature's Basket stores across Mumbai and in select 5 Stars. The damage at MRP is about Rs 200 for the German and Rs 280 for the French (300ml) at the Wasabi (Taj Palace) it cost us Rs 500 each.

Ratings (subject to change at any time without prior intimation)
Schneider-Weisse : 7.5/10
Jenlain : 7/10

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mussels and Guzzles at Johnny Fox's (Dublin)...

In India we begin a venture by choosing an auspicious day and doing seemingly pointless things like breaking coconuts on cars and shit... The equivalent of that for a beer blog has to be a post about Ireland... The Irish are warm, happy-go-lucky, sometimes incomprehensible, loud, brash, full of life and alcohol and always ready for a pint of the black stuff. My host in Ireland, Dermot Ryan, is a dear friend who let open his house and heart for a bunch of ten sordid drunk souls from all over the world gathered in the City of London for a Masters Course in Thievery and Hard-Balling or as they are calling it these days.. Finance.

It's obvious that I don't have much of a recollection from this particular trip as we were face down in pools of Guinness for the greater part of our time there. But the only three times I made sure I was at my alert best were our trips to St. James Gate (the Guinness Brewery), Johnny Fox's Pub and the Jameson Brewery. Since this is a beer blog I'm keeping the whiskey bit out of it (but it was awesome and I earned a diploma in whiskey tasting (at 9 am)).

Getting straight down to business Johnny Fox's has been by far the most profound drinking experience in my legal drinking life, hitting the right notes with all the senses. Located about an hour and a half away from the hustle bustle of Dublin, the pub is set atop a beautiful hill in the middle of a long windy road meandering through a forest. The pub on all accounts resembles a watering hole in the Shire. It also enjoys the privilege of being the highest pub in all of Ireland, and I don't just mean that in terms of altitude. Guests here enjoy not just a traditional Irish ambiance and music but also delicately cooked Irish food coupled with one of the nicest Guinness pints poured immaculately in six steps.

First came the stouts then came a massive bowl of Mussels placed on a slow fire swimming in a subtle garlic butter sauce. This was followed by spare ribs and another pint of Guinness. For desert we ordered a pint of Guinness each. I don't quite remember the damage but I wasn't complaining, so it couldn't have been that bad. The wooden interiors further accentuate the experience and also help the acoustics of the place. The pub is a platform for Irish musicians who are hell bent on making a fool out of you in your attempt to tap dance like the Irish.

The pub also has a very beautiful beer garden outside. I can only imagine the awesomeness of the place in summer. It was freezing outside in early February when we visited. This is the kinda place you'd take your whole family to on a Sunday afternoon and return home only much much later in the evening, or the kinda place you'd take your mates to and may be return the next day.

After one last booster pint we bid a teary goodbye to the pub. But the ride back through the beautiful long windy roads was some kind of a consolation.

Rating : 8.5/10
Link :
Address : Johnnie Fox's Pub, Glencullen, Co. Dublin, IRELAND.
Reservation : Recommended