“BEER! It is the best damn drink in the world!” as quoted by Jack Nicholson. Who wouldn’t agree to this thought when I personally do love beer. Oktoberfest, an annual beer festival in Germany is a melting pot for the beer lovers from all around the world to dwell on some freshly brewed beers. The beer festival had its very own Indian leg this year, at Mumbai and Pune on the 15th and 16th of October, 2011. My friends definitely weren’t going to miss out on this event this year.
Mumbai, had the event happening at a suburban area, Bandra. Pune, though had it organized at ‘Corinthians’, a beer brewery. This brewery was located approximately 20 kms away from the city. The idea of the road trip to Pune for a day with some amazing beer, cancelled out the idea of visiting Mumbai’s version of the event. The plan, I must admit was made by my friends who arranged to hire a ‘Tavera’ car on the 16th of October, 2011. Though, I was invited amongst the seven people; being the capacity of the car; I had my list of excuses ready on not making for the trip. I guess, I wouldn’t exactly know what made me change my mind, but, I confirmed my participation for the trip at the stroke of midnight. The start point for the hired car was from Panvel, where one of my friend resides. The tricky part about Panvel was that, it is located 80 kms away from Mumbai city and except for one friend from ‘Kharghar’ area in New Mumbai, everyone else were from suburban Mumbai. One of my friends Sunil, volunteered to pick each one of us up and take us to Panvel from where the journey would begin. The usual confusion of the number of people confirmed and the possible number of inductees made it a very stressful night for each one of us. Well, I can’t include myself in this as I wasn’t sure myself. The number confirmed was six from Mumbai on the day of departure, but we did have an additional friend to join in the festivities once we reached Pune. It was Vignesh, Sunil, Aroop, Srikant, Anand and myself from Mumbai with Girish joining us at Pune.
The usual excitement for a road trip was imminent, but what made this trip special was that it was the 1st time, except for Sunil and Aroop, I was involved with friends whom I haven’t been on a trip so far! Jokes and the usual banter on catching up on things were there, but more than eager to get our hands on the freshly brewed chilled beer. The day was hot and humid. Having adequate water resource was a complete necessity. The food court on the Mumbai- Pune Expressway sufficed our requirements. We don’t tend to realize the speed at which our car travels on the expressway, but it was expertly driven by our driver to reach Pune city by 3.15 PM leavin Panvel at 1.00 PM.
Reaching Pune city was easy. Trying to find our way to Corinthians was difficult and took us about 40 mins to reach the place. An unexpected rain shower, a bumpy ride and finally at the brewery. The tables were booked weeks ago and as feared. We were ready to stand our way guzzling the beer. A last moment cancellation by one of the attendees luckily got us a table. The crowd started to gather as the evening wore on. A self titled and very ordinary standup comic act kicked off the evening. 'Irish red ale', 'Oktoberfest wheat beer', 'Apple cider', 'Smoked ale' were ready on our table. Rates were Rs. 70.00 for a pint and Rs. 100.00 for an English mug of 800ml during the happy hours which ran until 8.00 PM. A fusion live performance gave us the feel of an open air music festival.
Exploring the brewery gave me an insight on the process of brewing, with placards placed all over the place. An X-Box kinect was installed with people battling it out over games of table tennis and boxing. A game of fooze ball with random opponents added to the joy. A separate pub with a whole different set of playlist was where the intial heartbeat was, but the open air feel, a barbeque kitchen and a live music act quickly changed things.
Our plan was to come back to Mumbai the very night itself. Leaving the place in the midst of the festivities was a pain, but also, a vindication in taking part in a beer fest. This was something that had been wanting for years. Leaving Pune at 11.30 PM, we reached Panvel at 1.30 AM. Reached home by 3.00 AM. Worthwhile experience and a ‘To do’ suggestion from me to all beer lovers.