The Best Beer in Bangalore!

The Best Beer in Bangalore! One man’s journey of struggle and redemption…

“I Miss Beer!” This was the realization and startling conclusion that I came to a few weeks after moving from Philadelphia to Bangalore to work with Micrograam, Kiva’s field partner. Having lived in the U.S. for my entire adult life, I never appreciated how easy it was to walk into a bar or deli and pick from a wide selection of craft brews from around the world. In Bangalore, however, the choices are much more limiting: choose between global brands such as Heineken and Corona subject to a “value-added tax” or a national brand called Kingfisher founded in Bangalore itself. And while I imagine that most avid beer drinkers know how foul a Corona tastes, Kingfisher can only be best described as the loud, dim-witted colleague that you occasionally need to converse with. This leftover swill not only successfully maintains a flat taste from start to finish but also holds a “65/Poor” rating by Beeradvocate.

How is it that a country that used to import porters, stouts, and Indian pale ales via The East India Country in the 18th century was now home to some of the worst tasting beer in the world?
I was lost. I was hopeless.
Until one day when I stumbled upon a local bar called The Biere Club while walking the streets of Bangalore on a Sunday afternoon. After being seated by their kind hostess I realized that I was not just walking into a bar but in fact a microbrewery! Sitting at the bar my waiter introduced me to the bartender, who was not only friendly but well versed in the micro brewing process.
Through his suggestion I decided to try a sampling of their six beers. By the end, I was both satisfied with my choice and glad to hear some of the successes and challenges of starting a beer company in India (The Biere Club was founded in 1994).
“Why aren’t you bottling this stuff and selling it?” I asked him.
Despite the company’s hopes of increasing its popularity by distributing its beers, I learned that regulators have consistently denied The Biere Club permission to further expand for reasons unclear to me. Since living in India for the past two months I’ve learned was that, like many industries, conducting business in India doesn’t come without its share of setbacks (India is currently ranked 142 out of 189 by the World Bank Group for ease of doing business).
And while I can only hope that this will change soon, I encourage anyone near the area to head down to Vittal Mallya Road, a street ironically named for the founder of Kingfisher beer, and visit the local brewery for some great food, conversation, and of course beer.

Address: No.20/2, Vittal Mallya Rd, Sampangi Rama Nagar, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001
Phone: 080 4212 4383

About the author

Kinjal Icecreamwala

Born in India but raised in New Jersey, Kinjal eventually moved to New York City where he went to college at NYU and worked as an investment banker for J.P. Morgan for six years. Prior to joining Kiva as a Fellow he was studying to get his MBA at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Kinjal is passionate about helping others and is excited to bring his academic and professional skillset to the Kiva organization.