At Toit, our customers have always been our primary focus. They’re the ones who bring life to the place, create memories and end up giving the place its familiar, friendly vibe.
And there are so many different kinds of people who come through our doors daily, that we wanted to get to know their stories.
The Kudix Mug Holder of the Month is our little way of celebrating our customers, and their unique stories.
If there ever was a Mug Holder who was all about the beer, it would have to be him. Say hello to John, the man who’s on a mission to further the craft brewing culture, pretty much wherever he goes. Oh, that and flying planes.
Are you from Bangalore?
It’s a long story. I was born in Cochin, my dad was a harbour pilot in the Merchant Navy. Then, when I was six we left for the Middle East. I grew up in Qatar, went to school there. At 18, I went to do Aerospace Engineering in the U.S. I lived in Florida for two years.
This University had aviation but it was really boring because there were no girls. So my two roommates and I, we decided to shift schools, and drove to a University in Arizona. That’s 3000 miles. We picked that University because it had a good aviation programme along with a 51% girl population.
I ended up meeting a lot of German guys here, and they introduced me to a lot of German speciality beers. At that time craft beer was starting to get popular, with microbreweries springing up. Anyway, I ended up switching my major from aerospace to geography. Got a degree in remote sensing and aerial photography.
We picked that University because it had a good aviation programme along with a 51% girl population.
My first job out of college was selling suits! It taught me how to dress and colour combinations, so that was great. I also sold cars, which taught me everything about sales. And then post 9/11 it got hard for me to renew my work permit, so I moved back to the Middle East.
When did you end up coming to Bangalore?
My dad was retiring and coming back to Bangalore. We always had a house here, just off Ulsoor lake. Every summer, when I was growing up, we would come here. I remember coming to Bangalore with my dad and always going to pubs, all the old ones. My dad always liked his beer.
Anyway I came back here and worked as a freelance trainer on American Culture, which was fun in the beginning but then got boring. Then I joined a corporate company, worked as an account manager. But I always wanted to be a pilot. So in 2009 I quit my job and moved to Canada to start my pilot training.
Wow. That’s quite a lot of travel and job switching.
It was great. I got my private license and I was well on my way to getting my commercial license but my dad passed away. And it was a really hard year. I had to make a decision. So very close to getting my license, I pulled the plug and came back to Bangalore. During my time in Canada though, I was very happy because I was reintroduced to all the craft beers.
Have you always been a beer lover?
I was sixteen when my dad gave me my first beer. Just the regular stuff. My family was very different. My dad said do things in front of us, don’t do it behind our backs. So I used to go to friend’s house parties and he would pick me up afterwards and ask me how many beers I’d had. And I would tell him.
While I was in Canada, I ended up being invited to join a closed panel for beer reviewing. Beers would come to my house and I had to critique not just the beers, but also the packaging, the concepts, the ads, etc. I used to do a lot of brewery tours and sampling sessions there as well. It was a lot of fun! I almost thought of becoming a beer sommelier. But I didn’t end up doing that.
I was sixteen when my dad gave me my first beer.
How did Toit become a part of this journey?
Actually a friend from aviation school who coincidentally happened to be here told me about Toit. He told me that when I went back, that’s the first brewpub I needed to go to.
When I came back, I had a lot of free time. So I looked up all the brewpubs here and decided to see what the beer was about. That’s how the idea of my blog also came about because I went around talking to and meeting a lot of people at brewpubs. People didn’t know what they were drinking, and all the beers have character, and once you know that you can appreciate them better. I decided I would go on a mission to educate people about beer.
Tell us more about your blog.
It’s called Tales of Froth. Anyone who wants to learn about beer or craft beer can jump on the blog. I’ve covered brewpubs in Bangalore so far, but I’ve started travelling, and I’ve been going to Bombay as well. So I’m going to expand and cover brewpubs in that area as well.
It’s been great fun. I launched my blog in February this year, and since then I’ve been to all the brewpubs here and met so many owners and brewmasters. I’ve connected with a whole bunch of people. I ran two beer workshops too!
It’s been great fun. I launched my blog in February this year…
One of the areas Toit focuses on, with its beers, is using local ingredients as much as possible. What’s your take on that?
I think it’s really good! The whole idea behind craft beer is is that it is something that is locally made and is handcrafted in small batches. If you can showcase local ingredients and add to the local economy, then that’s great.
In the U.S., for example, there are over 4000 breweries. And because of the increase of these breweries, it’s sort of added to the economy and agriculture. There’s a boom for barley, hops, wheat, etc., so it’s helping those cities and towns. There is talk about farmers developing better barley for India, so that’s something to look forward to.
Do you have a favourite here at Toit?
I have a few. But my ultimate favourite is the Toit Red. Very few bars do a good Red, and to me an Irish Red is balanced. It’s sweet because of the caramel but you also have your hoppy notes. It’s in-between the India Pale Ale and the Stout. And I like both of those as well. The Hefeweizen to me is also one of the best here.
Do you have a favourite international beer?
That’s a difficult one. But Weihenstephaner is really good. There’s just too many actually.
Are you as passionate about food?
Yeah! I review food, but I don’t put it on my blog. I write on review sites. Since I’ve started, I’ve met all the foodies, restaurant owners, started getting invited to tastings. So it’s just growing.
…my favourites, the first one that rolls off my tongue is Toit.
We ask this of everyone—why do you think you got selected as the Kudix Mug Holder of the Month?
I have a top five brewpubs list. So when people ask me which ones are my favourites, the first one that rolls off my tongue is Toit. And I come here a lot. A tonne of photos on my blog have been taken at Toit. I’m also always coming in to check out the speciality ales.
Any memorable moments in the last one and half years you’ve been coming here?
I come here a lot. I always want to talk to the brewers. I’ve done the brewery tour here as well. And every time my friends from outside come over, we do crawls here. Nothing crazy as such. For me it’s been about meeting the staff. Most of the guys know me and I like that!
Most memorable moment would probably have to be when two of the founders from Gateway Brewing had come down to Bangalore and they asked us where they should go. Brewmasters from a whole bunch of brewpubs were here, and we all just sat outside and had a great time.
Why Toit, though?
Why do I keep coming back to Toit? The staff are friendly, the location is good and the marketing—I see Toit doing things none of the other brewpubs are doing and they’re miles ahead in a marketing and branding sense. Also, the loyalty programme! It’s like taking the punch card one step further. It’s a nice way in which the brewpub is giving back to you for being loyal.