The novelty of breweries in Bangalore is fast vanishing, thanks to the lack of promised quality in the brew, even though freshly made on the premises. Most of us are used to the taste of our favourite brands and it takes a really good brew which can shake those in the shade by creating a memory of the drink long after it is consumed.
This is where Murphy’s is different. When we planned to visit Murphy’s and see what all the fuss was about, our prime consolation was that even if we didn’t like the place, we could hop over to Vembanad, which is an excellent choice for a meal, as both these brands are part of The Paul Bangalore. As it turned out, we didn’t have to.
Murphy’s is designed with great care and emphasis on comfort. The pub, like many of its fellows around the globe, tries a bit too hard to be Irish, the place where beer is like mother’s milk. It’s hard to miss the Irish theme, with the in-your-face framed cartoons and smart Irish quotes all over the walls, and the decor completing the neo-Irish look. They have converted beer barrels into seats that are surprisingly comfortable and roomy. But since they are advertising the place as an Irish pub, we couldn’t help but wonder and wonder how they are going to offer competition to the dark classic from Dublin – the ever famous Guinness. They have a tough act to follow.
The best thing about The Paul is their service. It’s as attentive and charming as it is non-intrusive. The staff are always pleasant and willing to help and maybe even break a few in-house rules in the process.
We decided to sit at the bar and were made constantly aware the area needed better lighting, one design element they missed. Their dark variety of beer, or rather stout, called Blackbeard, resembled Guinness except for the signature creamy head which was lacking. (It’s a famous joke in Dublin that a black guy coloured his hair blonde and his friend remarked he now looked like a pint of Guinness.). Ingredients include Caramel Malt, a rather un-Irish chocolate sprinkle (but what the hell!) and the end result is a smoky, slightly bitter, but delightful dark ale.
The barman suggested Paddy’s Poison next (There should be one for Bridget, too) which was golden in colour, with a crisp, fruity aroma and the slight bitterness of hop coupled with a tinge of honey. That’s quite a range of flavours, but I rather liked the mélange.
Cinnamon, Black Pepper and Coriander – What are they doing in a beer glass?
The answer would be Holy Sally, a specially brewed wheat malt with the distinct flavours of the three aliens above. A spicy beer? YES. The taste was lingering and my memories of my favourite beer brands returned to me in a bid to compare the worthiness and mettle of the new entrant. There are other available flavors but our bellies were stretched tight like beer barrels, preventing us from trying any more experiments.
Did it beat Guinness? The answer would be, to a devoted Guinness-drinker, no, but then not everyone is fond of Guinness. Others indeed may actually prefer Blackbeard – the world has room for many brands of stout, so bottoms up!
Any comparison to Guinness would be unfair, but Murphy’s lives up to its reputation in offering some new flavours and tastes (not to forget – delightful, lingering and experimental) and a lazy laid-back time (can’t avoid those words) with a decent crowd of corporates and expats around who were not shouting at the tops of their voices as if they owned the bar and shouting was a measure of their outgoingness and outspokenness (or, more likely, inebriation).
Shooters, Martinis, long drinks and the other usual favourites – but tonight was about freshly-brewed ale and so we didn’t venture there. In the grub department, we would recommend Murphy’s Chicken Wings, Mangolian Lamb which is deliciously shredded and cooked, Beef in Lettuce Cups, Sambal Chicken and the Thai Fish Cakes wrapped in banana leaves which are heavenly.
In truly Irish tradition they serve fish and chips, too. I wanted to try Irish Stew and see if it was equally as good as the one served in Dublin restaurants, but I had to reserve that pleasure for my next visit. The brewhouse has three distinct seating areas with the partially open-air seating in the front and a dining area in the back and a DJ station and dance floor on the next sub floor level. There is ample space to move around, and the music is played at a comfortable level for conversation…
Murphy’s doesn’t pretend to be the next big entrant in the brewery sector, but does its job with elegance. A must visit.