The story of beer is a long one, with the first kind of beer dating back to 9500 BC making it one of the oldest alcoholic beverages known to man. All those years makes for a lot of variety in styles, medium, apparatus and so on, leading to a LOT of different beer. Now commercial beer apart, every beer enthusiast has a story of their own to tell, too. I’m talking, of course, of craft beer. Now Pune is home to a lot of beer enthusiasts and ergo, a lot of microbreweries and in turn, a lot of different craft beer. With options strewn all across Pune from Hinjawadi to Koregaon Park, it would take an eternity for one to get access to all of the beers in one evening, right? Guess again – Taproom, Malaka Spice Baner has managed to get Pune’s finest and offers Effingut Brewerkz, TJ’s Brew Works, the Independence Brewing Co. and brands like Bira (yes, you read it right) all under one roof – with the added perquisite of Malaka’s legendary food to pair with the beer.
The upper floor is home to the bar serving the said beers on tap and has the added advantage of a cleaner view of the greenery, outside. Oh, and the choice of music helps, too !
Right, then. So I’ll start my story with the Bira, the star of the show. There were two options available on tap –
>White Ale – the fresher and lighter of the two (my pick); a Belgian style wheat ale with hints of orange peel and coriander.
>Blond Lager – the straw-colored hoppy, more bitter beer of the two.
Effingut’s offerings included (the ones I had) –
>Apple CIder – a sweet, well carbonated and fruity beverage. Not a classic beer but still pretty good.
>Hefeweizen – another spicy, kinda dry beer which went down easy
TJ’s tap had to offer –
Zen Weiss – a lovely pale yellow spicy, crisp beer that went down easy
Devil’s dark – a malty, sweet-ish dark beer
Independence Brewing Co. had on tap –
Belgian Wit – a citrusy, fresh beer that, again, went down easy
Robust Porter – a sweet-bitter beer with a notable coffee-like aftertaste
The name, Malaka is almost synonymous with great grub, and everything that we had that afternoon was nothing short of friggin’ awesome.
Top Hats – no trip to Malaka is complete without having these. Biscuity ‘hats’ housing a fresh mixture of pulses and fresh raw veggies, paired with the tangy, sweet, spicy dips were a great start to the food barrage.
Corn Kebabs – pan grilled sweetcorn patties that were perfectly crisped and just the right amount of thin rendering them light to eat.
Calamari Rings – perfectly flour-battered and deep fried fresh squid rings that left no funky aftertaste or smell; just the way I like ’em.
Veg Murtabak – paper thin flatbread, well crisped, housing a fresh veggie mixture that, again, went well with the dips served on the side.
Mongolian Tofu – While this preparation gets full marks for presentation, the tofu was a tad too chewy for my liking. The peanuts rendered a nice crunch to it and the soy-base was great, too..but the tofu just didn’t cut it.
Nan Thod potatoes – Disclaimer: I LOVE potatoes. Fried/pan-fried/grilled/boiled and mashed..serve me potatoes in any form; there’s a good chance I’ll lick the plate clean. So what happens when yuo make a sweet-spicy pan fried preparation of bite sized potatoes?! Bias happens..but you’ll love them too regardless of what I tell you, I promise you that !
Veg/Chicken Baos – an open wrap with a dough-ey base and a very fresh filling. A tasty and healthy alternative to your usual wraps.
Pumpkin Chips – this has to be one of those things you can’t stop nibbling on. Mildly crisp pan fried pumpkin slices tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce. A unique preparation, this – highly recommended.
Mutton Chops – which self-respecting non-vegetarian doesn’t love well done, carefully marinated and lovingly prepared semi-dry mutton chops?!?!
Firecracker Prawns – fresh prawns, ‘spring-rolled’ and garnished with fried noodles. Innovation at it’s best, I must say. Absolutely loved this !
Baby Potato Satay – the potatoes were nice and smoky with notable hints of peanut sauce Not all of them were BBQ-ed well enough, though…still a great preparation all the same.
Quail Samosa – I haven’t had quail before so I don’t really have a baseline to compare against, but these were still pretty good. They’re a treat for the explorer in you but I’d probably not go for repeats on this one given the myriad other lip-smacking options.
So, all in all –
Food – 4.5/5
Service – 4.5/5
Ambience – 4.5/5
Value for money – N/A (invited)
Awesome, awesome beers, great food, a great view and great company were the sum total of my experience at Malaka and given that this place is a stone’s throw away from home, I’ll be heading back soon for sure. And even if Baner is not close to your home, I’ll say the prospect of getting to choose from 3 craft beer brands and Bira is reason enough to make that drive down, no? Cheers !