Earlier this month, @KDProQuo told me about an article in The Pune Newsline about a new micro-brewery in town – a new micro-brewery at Amanora, a new micro-brewery a stone’s throw from work!
May 10th, I was scheduled to meet S over a coffee because he was in town and only a coffee because I was trying to act pricey. But I’m me and I can’t let a new-brewery-right-outside-work opportunity pass. So Thursday afternoon, S and I made what was my first of several visits to TJ’s. It was almost empty.
I love the wooden feel that the place has. the beer tasting happens out of a cool-ass wooden tray. There’s a table with a tap (well, actually, there are four) where you can refill your beers using a funky swipe-your-card-pour-your-own-beer system. It’s not something I’ve done yet, but I believe it’s cool. So yeah, one of those four tables has jagged edges, and it is so supremely cool, you have to go there to see it! And the wood + jute combination for the chairs – totally my thing! Beer barrels for bar stools, I say!
Anyway, S and I did a quick beer-tasting session: there was a coriander flavoured beer (which I haven’t seen being served after my third visit there), a premium lager, a hefeweisen and a dark barley brew that they call Devil’s Dark.
The coriander beer didn’t quite taste of coriander.
I’m not too fond of regular or premium lagers. I prefer the stronger kind. Always. And no, I don’t mean Cobra or KF Strong or Palone 8.
The hefeweisen, had a beautiful hint of coriander and I wasn’t sure of what to make out of that, given what I had been told. I’ve had better weiss beers before. Not to say this one was bad. All I’m saying is that I’ve had better.
The dark beer with the roasted barley was pretty good. It gave me the good old porter/stout feel. I don’t know enough to be able to tell the difference between a porter and a stout except that my beer-drinking tells me stouts are tastier, more bitter and stronger. And that stouts are made from the unmalted, roasted barley – which explains the coffee-esque, chocolate-esque after taste. I liked this one. The after-taste, the feeling that it came from ingredients that were roasted/smoked, all that. And it’s pretty much all I’ve been having on subsequent visits.
(Though the stout at Doolally was par excellence! It gave me some severe Duck Rabbit Milk Stout memories. I don’t think any Indian home-brew will equal that one. The beers at Doolally still get more points over those at TJ’s, except my last visit to Doolally, which sucked because the beers were shit and the crowd was hopeless and the service was pathetic. But this isn’t about Doolally, so I’ll shut up!)
My next visit was the same evening with @MaayiKaLaal, when I got to taste some of their food.
I was there again on Saturday with @purisubzi and then again in the week that followed, with my parents and then again with S, three days in a row because he was in town and one of those three visits involved a not-so-nice afternoon at Doolally that I just mentioned and that we needed to get over.
After having extensively gone over pages of their website, I think the guys who served the beers the first time around needed to be given a Beer 101. They might have gotten some stuff messed up. That’s alright, really. But then, at some level, it’s not. I remember @purisubzi giving Avinash, the main man at TJ’s some gyaan about roasting malt and general beer goodness. Quite funny, that.
So, here’s what I love about the place.
One. The beers, especially the dark barley brew. Brilliant!
Two. The food. I’m the consumer. I’m allowed to compare. It beats the food at Doolally hands down!
The pork ribs are excellent. As is the beef chilli with noodles.
The make-your-own pastas idea is pretty cool because I get to well… make my own pasta. I can pick from farefalle, penne and fettucini for pasta, arrabiatta, pesto, alfredo for the sauces AND veggies, chicken and prawns. I like the pesto-cream sauce, thought just pesto sauce is better, but then, that’s just me!
That time I went to TJ’s with @MaayiKaLaal, they had Chettinad Mushrooms which were so bloody good, they took them off the menu and replace them with Chilli Basil Mushrooms. C’mon, y’all! Bring the Chettinad Mushrooms back!
And I’ve had the squid which was decent because it was salty but would’ve been fabulous otherwise, the chilli cheese toast – which the boys seems to love, the onions rings, which are as onion-ringy as onion rings can be, so that’s a good thing.
And here’s what I don’t like.
One. The music is too loud. And this is hardly a complaint because it’s too specific to me, but then this is my blog. So ha! It is too varied. I guess that is a good thing in that it caters to a general audience. But think of a great beer place that plays *your* kind of music. Ok. Make enough money, quit your job and open that brewery already!
Two. Evenings, and as it get later, the service gets a little shitty. It’s past 10:30 pm, you ask for Farfalle, you get Penne. You ask for your pasta in Pesto and Cream sauce, you get in Alfredo Sauce. And being the food snob I like being every once in a while, that’s not acceptable.
Mr. TJ seems like a great guy. He comes around and says hello. He asks if we’re doing alright and all that. And then everybody else who works there flashes me grins every once in a while and that makes me feel all awesome about pimping the place the way I do!
Good beer is addictive, man! I miss M and all the beer lessons he gave me. I want to do a home brew. I want to buy that beer brewing kit Fab sells. And while I keep whining until any of that actually happens, you can go to the Nature’s Basket store near Boat Club Road and take a look at the beers they have: the red, the gold AND the blue Chimay, Schneider Weiss, East India Pale Ale and Lager from Brooklyn Breweries. And I think I remember seeing the Murphy’s Irish Stout too. Also, a blog post on some home-made sushi that tasted fairly good will be up soon!
And before I sign off, here’s some info about TJ’s Brew Works, in case you’re planning a visit:
Address: Level 2, East Blok, Amanora Park Centre, Pune
(yeah, it’s spelt without a ‘c’ because they’re cool, like that!)
Some awesomeness about TJ, the man: Hey, Mr. TJ!