Thursday, 28 August 2014

Will Travel for Beer- Top 5 Microbreweries in Gurgaon

There is nothing quite like taking a long swig of perfectly chilled beer from a dew speckled, icy glass at the end of a hard days work. And while I love my peg of single malt, or the glass of red wine, nothing is better than an icy glass of golden ale. The thing about beer is that it goes with almost any kind of food, spicy kebabs, Goan fish fry, Chinese stir fry... you name it!

For beer lovers like the hubster and myself, Gurgaon is one of the best places for those who love fresh beer off the tap, brewed in small batches, in-house in what have come to be known as microbreweries.  Microbreweries have become quite the rage in Gurgaon, and in the last 2 years or so, so many have cropped up that you could say Gurgaon has become the hub for Microbreweries. I remember when I first moved here there were only 2-3... now I think there are 11 in Gurgaon alone.

Both the hubby and I love our beer and one evening when we were deciding which watering hole to visit, we ended up listing out all the micro breweries we have visited and realised that we have visited all of them! We also ended up debating which are our favorites and why. And that's where the idea for this post was born.

Now before I start listing out our favorite places, let me start by saying that I'm no expert on beer. I can't go into long technical descriptions about the color, thickness of the head, laciness, maltiness, etc. I'll leave that to the beer experts who know what they are talking about :) Besides, even if I could, I assumes most folks would just be bored if I did - amateurs though we may be, we still know what we like and what we don't like. So it's based on our personal preference that we've favorited and rated these microbreweries.

I would also like to state clearly that every single one of our visits to microbreweries (listed and unlisted here) have been on an non-invite basis. We have visited as paying customers, no special discounts either. So I believe our ratings are fair in that our experiences were authentic since we didn't receive any special treatment.

So which microbreweries are our favorites and which places would we keep going back to again and again.

Here goes... compiled by the hubster and myself... our favorite 5 microbreweries in Gurgaon

1. Downtown
Far and away our favourite. Located in sector 29 market, we love their beer and they maintain a pretty good consistency on all their beers. My favorite beers are the Premium and the Dark. Their Wheat beer is good, though I'm not too big a fan of Wheat Beer in general. Their food, mainly pub grub, is consistently good.

Must try- We love their potato wedges, their thin crust pizzas and their non-veg Indian starter platter. They also used to serve grilled tiger prawns in lemon and butter sauce which were to die for, but this is sadly no longer on the menu. But my absolute favorite is their lamb mini burgers... I get them every time!

The ambiance is amazing, a little like a local pub and they have recently expanded, so more space. Great since getting a table here after 8 on any day used to be almost impossible.  The music is mostly classic rock and 80s'/ 90s' pop which is the kind of music I love. The crowd is a nice mixed bunch of folks that are always in good spirits. The staff is very well trained and very helpful and always on their toes. I think I've only once had a less than amazing experience there in about 25 visits which is pretty good I think.

2. 7 Degrees Brauhaus
Located in South Point Mall on Golf Course Road, this micro brewery has an interesting ambiance with seating below artificial hop trees, although it is beginning to look a little dated. It's known for its beer and it's Bavarian style food. I'll be honest, 7 degrees Brauhaus made it to number two on the list solely based on how much we enjoyed their beer, which was excellent. We tried the Special beer and the Lager. Both were easy to drink, with a great after-taste that seemed to get better with each sip. However they do need to work on their service. Food wise, maybe they had a bad day when we visited, but the pork schnitzel which I tried was sadly overcooked and leathery, and not presented well on the plate.

3. Open Tap
Quire new on the scene and when we first visited Open tap on Sohna Road, I remarked to the hubby about how similar it was to Downtown. And after enquiring with the guy serving us, we discovered that the owner was indeed the same. What I like about Open Tap is that its small, cosy and intimate, just like what a local watering hole/pub should be. This is the kind of place I would like to visit after a day of work, or to catch up with friends. The music is again mostly rock and is not so loud that it makes conversation impossible. Their beer is good... the premium and ale are my favorites. Little on the expensive side. Impossible to get a seat on a Friday evening after 7pm.

Must try- Thin crust pizzas

4. Manhattan Craft Brewery 
Manhattan located in Global Foyer Mall on Golf Course Road and it is absolutely huge! The ambiance is great, but more along the lines of a lounge/club than a pub, which is why we have ranked it lower than Open Tap. The lighting is also very low, something we were not too keen on. The beer is good. Tried their Belgian Wheat and it is one of the few Wheat beers that I really enjoyed.  Service is good, I would stick to the finger food options here. I tried their burger and was very, very disappointed. Go on a game night or when they are having a show. The hubby has visited during an India ODI and said the atmosphere was amazing.

5. Striker 
Located in Global Foyer Mall, Striker also has an atmosphere similar to a local pub, but a little noiser. It has a real buzzing atmosphere, especially when they have live performances that showcase new as well as some established bands. But it tends to get a little overcrowded as the evening wears on. Their beer is named after music genres and is good but not great. We tried the Country Pilsner and it was light and crisp. We have visited Striker twice, very early on, when it first opened its doors and more recently a few months ago. Initially they had quite an extensive menu consisting of starters, salads and some mains, but they have now condensed their menu, sticking to mainly finger foods. Their beer, while still good, is not as good as it used to be. I'm also not so impressed with their more abbreviated menu.

I'm also going to mention a few other popular breweries and why they didn't make it to our favorite list.

Vapour- Located in a mall on MG Road, it's more like a lounge bar than a pub, with music that's quite loud, so while some may prefer this, we like a more casual setting. I've been there once, the hubby twice. Our first visit was very disappointing. The hubby's second visit was a better experience. Overall though, we were not too impressed with their beer or their food and their service needs a lot of improvement.

Soi 7- Great location, great ambience, decent music, ok food. That's where it ends for us. Service needs improvement and their beer is ok... 

New Kids on the Block 

Brewer Street is one of the newest entrants to the long list of microbreweries in Gurgaon. Located in ILD Trade Centre on Sohna Road, it has a really nice ambiance and plays some great music.

Positives- Excellent service, a very accommodating manager who genuinely seems concerned about his customers experience, expansive outdoor seating area and good food.

Negatives- sadly the beer... could do with a lot of improvement

Torgauer Brewpub, located in Raheja Mall, Sohna Road is another newbie. Torgauer is more of a club and a pub, I'd say, especially if you visit late in the evening because the music is meant more for dancing than conversation. Their beer is not too bad.

Positives- Good service, well trained staff and good food

Negatives- Beer needs improvement and the music is way too loud.

Well that's our list... what are your favorites?

[Images by Shalini Pereira, please do not use without prior written permission]

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Home Sweet Home

One of my favorite blogs, Aalayam, recently completed 100 posts. And to celebrate this milestone the two fabulous ladies behind this blog, Deepa and Supriya, came up with a truly unique and incredibly generous way to celebrate with their achievement... by featuring the homes of fellow decor and lifestyle bloggers. I was absolutely thrilled when Deepa wrote and asked me to contribute to this post with an image that captured the essence of what home was to me. 

Thank you Deepa and Supriya for including me ... I'm so honored to be a part of the amazing bunch of bloggers you featured in your 100th post! More importantly, a very big congrats to the both of you.  I wish you lots of success and I know you guys will have loads more inspiring stuff for us to drool over in the future. To see the entire post and the contributions of all the other super talented decor bloggers, hop over to Aalayam for more...

Here are a few images I clicked of our place that I think capture what home represents to me.

"Home to me is a retreat. It’s a place you can escape to at the end of the day and a place you can be yourself. More than current trends, it should reflect who you are, where you’ve come from and where you hope to be. So for me, my home is an amalgamation of the ethnic, the modern and the quirky, but most importantly it’s a place both my husband and I can just be comfortable and be ourselves."

Enjoy your Sunday guys and have a great week!

[All images clicked by me. Please do not use without prior written permission]

Friday, 22 August 2014

Fun Fridays & Sangria

It's Friday and the weekend awaits... perfect time to share my Sangria recipe :) I love red wine sangria. It's one of my favourite drinks especially when the weather is hot and sultry. I've tasted sangria in a lot of bars and restaurants in Delhi and Gurgaon, and I think I can honestly say that mine is pretty damn good. I know, I know, I'm blowing my own trumpet... again! But it really is, and it's not just my husband that says so :)

The problem with a lot of Sangria's I've tasted is that they end up tasting a lot like cough syrup... I think it's because of the addition of cranberry juice, which is a pretty gross, at least the ones we get in the market here. Now sangria that tastes like cough medicine is fine if you have a cough, otherwise it's not pleasant. For me, sangria will  always be the perfect Summer drink and it should be citrusy, spicy and not too sweet. I love serving it at parties and it's great because you can get away with using cheap wines. In fact, the cheaper the better! I've read that any wine that's dry and full bodied will do and it's been suggested to me that Shiraz is a good choice from Indian wines. I usually use Sula's Madera or Mosaic Red since they are are pretty reasonably priced between Rupees 350-400 a bottle and I don't see any reason in spending more on a wine that's going in a sangria. I heard you can also use port, but only if it's dry, not the sweet kind you get in Goa or you will end up with a disgustingly sweet drink.

A Sangria is basically made up of 4 parts- the wine, the hard liquor which can vary from brandy to vodka, the juices or mixers and fruit. I like using seasonal fruits, so in summer in India, pomegranate, apples and pears are good options, but in the cooler months, peaches and strawberries also work really well. What ever fruit you use though, orange, in my opinion, is a must and because of this, when it comes to the hard booze I like adding Cointreau and brandy instead of vodka. 

My Recipe for Sangria

A bottle of red wine
60 ml Cointreau 
60 ml brandy (the cheap stuff will do)
1 - 1 1/2 cup orange juice (1st add a cup and then add more if you feel it's necessary) 
1/2 cup Limca (fizzy Lemonade)
1 orange sliced
1/2 a red apple (chopped relatively small)
1/2 a pear (chopped relatively small)
seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate 
1 cinnamon stick

First place the orange slices and pomegranate seeds in a pitcher and muddle or squash them up a bit. Then mix all the remaining ingredients in and chill for at least 3 hours, because that's how much time you need for the love to happen between the fruit and wine :) (The fruit gives off their flavor and also get a chance to absorb the flavor of the wine) Just before serving add a few ice cubes and enjoy! But be careful, it goes down really easily, and quickly but it's still wine and you may have a killer headache in the morning if you enjoy it a little too much :)

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Paint it Black

A few weeks ago I shared images Aradhana Anand's beautiful charcoal grey bedroom. Black, in all its shades, is one of my favorite colors, but I like, a lot of folks who wrote in admiring the space, have always felt intimidated about using black on the walls of a room. Inspired by Aradhana, I started started paying more attention to spaces that use a lot of black. Here are a few that I really liked. Enjoy and hope you have a great long weekend ahead!

[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Studio Wood Collective, Delhi

Hi there! It's been a while... I've been really neglecting the blog for a while now... work & flu... never a good combination :(

But I'm all better now, glad to be rid of the chills and have my voice back and now glad to be able to say hello again!

This post has been long over due and so it was the first thing I decided to do as soon as I was back to my old self. I love showcasing young Indian Designer's work on the blog. We have so much talent in Indian and it's a great privilege to be able to use this blog as a platform to promote Indian design as well as Indian arts and crafts.

So here is an amazing little start up by the name of Studio Wood Collective, launched by Gazal Bawa, with an inspiring belief of, "all big things have small beginnings". The collective is formed by three other designers, Vrinda Mathur, Navya Aggarwal and Sahej Bhatia who have backgrounds in product design, architecture, spatial design and graphics.

Re-love, Re-design, Re-purpose- that's the mantra of SWC. Their objective is to rediscover the potential of used furniture pieces and deconstruct their existing form, whilst giving the product a brand new look. In simple words, they take old furniture that has seen better days, or is a little dated and unwanted, and with a little intervention, re-work and creativity, transform it into something chic, beautiful and something you'd love to have in your home. I think that's pretty cool!

Studio Wood Collective launched their first collection on August 1st in Delhi. to discover more visit their Facebook page here

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