Necessary upfront information - I have a fair bit of beer drinking experience and high expectations. I am putting effort into a long review with the hope that the owners would rectify what ills their ale.
Given this is started by two IIM grads a bit of business related commentary at the end is necessary. I am hoping they would take in the spirit it is intended for I wish them much success!
1) Approach to Doolally - You better know exactly where you need to go. This place is pretty tough to find if you are an out-of-towner that frequents Pune infrequently and don't know the general layout of this part of town Hadapsar, Wanwadi, etc. It's much further than I thought after asking some of the native Punekars
2) Inside or Outside - It is a genuinely thought-provoking question with both areas having significant advantages and disadvantages. While, currently, the outside holds the threat of unexpected rains and an army of mosquitoes it is quieter and a conversation can be had.
On the inside though the temperature is controlled (much warmer) and no rain can get to you, the music is LOUD and I could barely catch a word of what my cousin was saying despite the fact that both of us were leaning over and talking loudly till we coughed. So we shuttled between in and out (something I don't do frequently)
Also, much later in the evening there was some equine (or bovine) flatulence in the air! Brewery gas outlet?
3) Beer - I requested to get a few samples so I could make a decision re: which beer I wanted and I was pleasantly surprised that they let us taste all the beers in shot glasses (totally unexpected and very welcome) at the bar counter.
Topline - I was expecting a lot more when I read the glowing reviews but I am sorry to say I was disappointed. With honorable exceptions, my general opinion was - watery, and under-flavored
In order of (diminishing pref):
a) Saison - This was a seasonal french beer. A slightly darker pilsner-ish beer, this was a stand-out for me with a distinctive and likable top note, good body, and a smooth finish. I got a good wheat flavor with every sip. A winner here. I had two of these and enjoyed them. This had the least of the watery profiles of the other beers.
b) Hefeweizen - I think they were a bit too cautious in the making of this German/Belgian/Dutch classic. I love wheats and I love the whites, with powerful full bodied, unrepentant flavors. I gave this a second shot with the trial but again had the same impression - the flavors were very subdued and it was, well, watery.
When I say watery, I mean the bothersome taste of drinking a watered down beer like many American classics - Bud light, Coors light, Miller Genuine Draft, and the worst of them all, Milwaukee Light on a hef base.
c) Apple cider - This is what forced my cousin to force me out for a 40 min ride (1 way). The apple cider was fine but I'm just not into ciders. My cousin had the same comment that I had before. The fruit flavor was a tad too subdued with barely a whiff of apple.
d) Something 36 - Supposed to be a crisp, fresh lager(ish) and was a disappointment from get go. I can't say more than 'watery' the way MGD is. I would sell a slice of my soul for a truly crisp full flavored lager/pilsner like a Kirin Ichiban or a Singha or one of the long tradition of Germans in that genre.
4) Food - Reading different reviews I decided to stay away from the food, preferring to catch a no-fail plate of fries though the wait staff gentleman kept on suggesting dishes that I had not the slightest interest in.
Keeping with the no-fail line, the fries were just fine, neither the best nor the worst I have eaten.
5) Service, wait staff - Courteous and hopelessly under informed.
When we made our multiple trips in and out they were very helpful and did not seem exasperated (+). I expected the billing to get messed up but it did not (+).
Now comes the part one expects but seldom gets in India. Thoughtful response from a knowledgeable server/waiter. The dude that helped us looked like he'd be happier with the job as a gym instructor than as a waiter. Though I speak three widely used Indian languages we had terrible listening comprehension problems even conveying that a) I'd like a crisp, clean lager (to which he kept saying 'German wheat' 'German wheat' 'German wheat') , b) I'd prefer they not dunk my fries in a sea of gooey 'chij' that would ultimately make it as soft as an unfortunate samosa that died by drowning.
A microbrewery is a great place to talk beers and brewing with a brewmaster or even a knowledgable bar tender, not quite possible here due to the a) loud music and b) the aforementioned communication problems and c) lack of knowledge of their products - they have memorized what they have been told to recommend but ask them for more details or try to have a discussion and they are lost.
I believe the place is a work in progress and as they get their hands dirty(ier) the team will figure out house classics and some rotating seasonals.
Now the business part - This is what flummoxed me - we went in with the expectation of a microbrewery with decent (not so loud) music in the grand tradition of GordonBiersch in SF and many more in Europe but ended up horrified as the microbrewery converted into more of a bar (indoors) with horribly loud music (not by a DJ per another review but a playlist playing out of a iPod as my cousin pointed out), and as the evening wore on the strobe ball lights turned on and it became a bit of a club with somebody running salsa steps to hiphop and an area turned into a dance floor while two TV screens played WWF! WTF?! Identity crisis?
The menu offers everything from the North to the South and from the East to the West - from fries to mughlai to Chicken Don Don and a pasta counter to whatnotelse and yes, a cocktail called Blowjob. Asking a male waiter for that cocktail sends shivers down my timber. May I have a blowjob, please? Sure Sir. Anything to make our customers happy!
I don't know the secret to sure success but the secret to sure failure is trying to please everybody. Trying to be everything to everybody is just a BAD idea.
I'd suggest you guys stick to core competencies and focus on activities and foods that surround the ambience of a microbrewery. There are so many 'ambience and experience' touches you can add...!
Another major factor is access - the place goes on until past midnight and the local rick service ends around 10. If people don't want to drive drunk they have a problem getting transportation back out. This issue combined with the far out location surely stops many people from driving in. If the owners can either commission 2-3 ricks to be on call until shutdown time or have a small van that runs half hourly or hourly to a major spot in Hadapsar where ricks are available they'd likely see more traffic coming in.
Be glad to chat more...