Compared to other places of libation, taprooms are simple. Whether it be in Downtown San Jose or LA, you can spot one: wood-carved bar, tap handles, bartenders in black.
It’s the bottles — and the people that hold them — that tell the story.
Colorful bottles and cans of beer line the walls, each one with unique kerning and caricatures. You can walk into a taproom with a friend (or seven) and know you’re there just to enjoy a beer. No gimmicks, no seizure-inducing strobe lights, no fancy-themed cocktails. It’s beer first. Always.
That’s kind of how it worked for Ravi Takhar and Gurvinder Singh, co-founders of IBU Taproom & Bottle Shop in Milpitas…
“Beer was kind of a hobby for me,” said Takhar. “I’d see different artwork from different brewers and it just sparked my interest. I loved trying different beers and I knew there was a lot more beers than what I saw at the grocery store.”
It’s been three years since his hobby turned into a full-blown taproom — one of the first of its kind in Milpitas. IBU recently celebrated its third birthday with a special menu list and a commemorative t-shirt based on WrestleMania III’s event poster.
Replacing the heads of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant were, of course, hops.
IBU is attached to Takhar’s other means of employment, Stuft Pizza, and the two establishments share a corridor.
“Places in downtown San Jose have their thing,” said Singh. “Like at OG [Original Gravity Public House], it’s beer and sausages. We have beer and pizza.”
IBU takes its name from “international bitterness unit,” the industry standard for how bitter a beer is. Light beers rate in the single digits, while IPAs — popular at the taproom and with Takhar and Singh — can rate in the 50s.
If you’re not into beer, then IBU also has plenty of other fare, including wine and hard cider. Whatever you’re into, though, Takhar and Singh can guarantee that it’s coming from the highest-quality local and family-run microbreweries.
“We always stress local and Bay Area first before we choose any beer style.” Takhar said.
Takhar and Singh opted to keep IBU’s ambience simple. Wooden tables and chairs lend a soft touch to the wall of beer taps, the gigantic wall of beer fridges, and the constant whir of the flat panel TVs.
If you want to catch the game, you’re welcome to do so here, among the beer geeks and people just needing a drink.
“It’s just amazing getting different kinds of people here,” said Takhar. “Not just young people — we get a lot of business people from out of town who don’t get the kind of beer we have here in California.
He added, “Meeting new and different people who like good beer and support us is the best part of this job.”
IBU Taproom & Bottle Shop
1422 Dempsey Road