These stories were published over the last two years, even as beer-drinkers in Delhi still thirst for a sip of freshly-brewed craft beer. Meanwhile, across the Haryana border, the business of micro-breweries and brewpubs has continued to flourish in Gurgaon since 2008 when India’s first commercial microbrewery, Howzatt, popped up in Gurgaon’s Galaxy Hotel & Spa almost 10 years ago. Today, Cyber Hub, Sector 29 market, Golf Course Road, Galleria Market, and Sohna Road all boast of multiple micro-breweries. Spoiled for choice, even true enthusiasts and aficionados who don’t live that side of town are happy to make a trip to the millennium city for a taste of flavourful beer, without preservatives. A refreshing change from the commercially bottled brews that Delhi has to make do with–the brewing culture of Gurgaon means that the Indian palate now has access to international flavours like a Belgian Stout as well as interesting, unique flavours like Mango beer. At prices that don’t break the bank.
What a wonderful world.
I’d spent many evenings at bars in Delhi’s SDA market, Hauz Khas Village and Greater Kailash’s M-Block Market, when the promise of discounted Kingfisher pints was enticing enough. I saw no reason to trek to faraway Gurgaon, especially because the long commute meant I’d be too late for Happy Hour anyway. However on one particularly hot evening, at a friend’s insistence, I agreed to move our Friday night plans to Downtown - Diners And Living Beer Cafe in Sector 29 market. I patiently waited for the server to bring me tasters of their in-house brews and followed his instructions (“Ma’am, from left to right please), and proceeded to fall in love with their crisp, refreshing Wheat Beer. Four mugs (and a hazy metro ride later), I knew I’d be back for more. Since then, I’ve sampled the brews at Quaff in Cyber Hub, Uptown in Galleria Market, Prankster (India’s first Food & Beverage Campus) in the bustling Sector 29 market, 7 Degrees Brauhaus in South Point Mall, Nowhere Terrace & Brewpub at Crosspoint Mall, and Manhattan Bar Exchange and Brewery on Golf Course Road, amongst others. For reference, each trip to Gurgaon takes about an hour-and-a-half (accounting for rush hour traffic) and three podcasts–toll tax, when I think about the fresh beer that’s waiting on the other side.
The emergence of these breweries in Gurgaon, in retrospect, was almost serendipitous. Relatively lax liquor laws meant that Haryana was one of the first Indian states to allow micro-breweries to set up shop. Defined as a “small modern brewery producing freshly-made beer”, these establishments produce between 5,000 - 50,000 litres of beer everyday–none of which is bottled. Better for your belly, these beers are also glycerine and (relatively) guilt-free. To the avid beer drinker, the fear of a wider mid-riff is nothing. No, the true appeal of Gurgaon’s micro-breweries lies in the exposure to new tastes and flavours, interesting food pairings, and completely unique drinking experiences. Take, for instance, an evening I (barely) remember at The Brew Buddy. While the food menu is nothing to write home about, each table is fitted with a personal tap so you can pour your own beer. As far as service goes this definitely beats flailing my arms to try and get the bartender’s attention, I thought while sipping their version of a Wheat Beer.
If you’re seeking gastronomical novelty instead, I’d suggest hitting one of these micro-breweries up for unusual flavours. Stop by Quaff for a pint of Hibiscus beer, experiment with the dark Schwarzbier with flavours of clove, banana, raisins and caramel at 7 Barrel Brewpub, or the signature Apple Cider at Prankster restaurant. The whole point of craft-brewing, in reality, is to experiment with different flavours and, given just how many of these have mushroomed in Gurgaon, you’re guaranteed a completely different drinking experience on any given Friday night.
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