Of Bavarian beers and Stevie Wonder
When we heard that a new beer bar has opened at Kala Ghoda, we decided to doff our caps at an old friend and eschew the company of Vodka for a night. That didn't quite end up the way we planned, though
Where are you?" the friend asked, as I surveyed the tiny attic-like space atop Silk Route on Rampart Row Road, Kala Ghoda. I had just entered Cerveza, the newest beer bar in town, whose claim to fame is a menu that lists 28 international beers to suit all tastes and palettes. (The bar will soon add another two beers to the list)
Sitting on an uncomfortably high bar stool, I thought back to the favourites I would guzzle, when I still drank that ale. Asahi. Tick. Kingfisher. Tick. Stella Artois. Tick. Oh, and Amstel Lager. Tick.
Newly opened Cerveza in Kala Ghoda serves patrons from 3 pm to 1.30
am. Pic/ Satyajit Desai
Then my eyes fell on one filed under Wheat Beer/White Beer. Schneider Weisse. Termed the Champagne of Wheat Beer, the menu cheerfully described Shneider (Rs 450) as a beer made for Bavarian royals, Messers Shneider and Sohn. "Alc: 5.4 per cent; Calories: 250; Food: Chocolate" it went on, helpfully. A royal start then, we decided.
From left: Leffe, Saison Dupont, Murphy's Irish Stout, Shneider Weisse
and Stella Artois are some of the international beers available at Cerveza
As I waited for company to arrive -- former beer drinkers like me, who were excited about the opening of a specialist beer bar -- I glanced around the room. Cerveza is a tiny space with wooden flooring and attic beams. There are three round tables, surrounded by tall bar stools, for people to sit on. A low table runs across a mirrored side wall. The DJ console is squashed into an alcove by the entrance, and the bar -- which also serves other alcohol, including wines, margaritas, martinis and beer cocktails (no whiskey, no vodka) -- lies across it, on the other side of the room.
It was only when the DJ, a young man wearing a Hard Rock Cafe tee, began to play a Lionel Richie track and followed it up immediately with a Stevie Wonder one, that I began to question the purpose of my being there. The company arrived, and entered the room with raised eyebrows.
"'Stuck on you'. Really?" they asked, and I shrugged helplessly. I think it can safely be said that beer bars and '80s pop do not go well together. And things began to go rapidly downhill from there.
For one, Peter Andre was resurrected from the grave of Bad Nineties Music. The single speaker nudged under the long table bleated in protest, lending a tinny sound to the singer's dulcet tones. A family with two tiny children blundered into the scene and took the table next to ours. Soon enough the children began to play catch, which turned into hit-the-neighbour's-bar-stool. The father began to dance and an attentive steward brought us our Onion Rings (Rs 150).
Food. Finally. We sighed in relief, happy at the distraction that brought our attention back to our table. That is pretty much the best that can be said of the rings. The Mangolian Fish (Rs 250) wasn't exciting either, and lacked salt. But the beers kept coming, and in a short while, we couldn't care less about the music, kids and snacks.
The Shneider was a good choice. Made with wheat, it had a pleasant taste that wasn't bitter like the Saison Dupont (Cal: 208, Alcohol content: 6.5 per cent, Rs 550), or mildly sweet like the Stella Artois (Cal: 154, Alcohol content: 5.2 per cent, Rs 400).
The Leffe Blonde (Cal: 200, Alcohol content: 6 per cent, Rs 400) had a strong fruity under taste that left behind a tinge of cloves and nutmeg on your tongue.
Cerveza, which is Spanish for beer, is an honest effort, which townsfolk would appreciate. The prices aren't exorbitant, and range between Rs 130 to Rs 800 for the beers. But for a beer bar of that size to work, the food needs to be top notch, even if it must be limited. There is no reason why it shouldn't be. The music too, needs to be less jarring. If you come away from a bar feeling glad you escaped in good time, then clearly the range of beer isn't enough to pull patrons back. Except, perhaps, for that Schneider.