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“Beer me, please!” The Growing Culture of Beer within Israel

Posted by Lauren Yagoda on May 18, 2015 10:57:26 AM

Contrary to naive belief, grape kosher wine is not the only alcoholic beverage popular in Israel. In fact, ask someone who resides in the Holy Land, and they may ask, Manischewitz who? However, as one of the world’s oldest beverages, beer has made a significant impact within the history of Israel. Let us beer-349876__180rewind to see the progression of its influence leading to present day where Israel hosts one of the world’s largest Beer Festival.

The ancient Israelites preferred to drink wine, similar to the Greeks and Romans, but once they were exiled to Babylonia in the sixth century BC; they began moving away from wine and embraced beer. Several rabbis became established brewers, the most notable among them being Rav Chisda and his pupil Rav Papa.

beer-428121__180Later, in 1934, the first local commercial brewery was opened by James Armand de Rothschild in collaboration with Gaston Dreyfus and Rishon LeZion. A demand for beer was recognized amongst the British nationals staying in Israel. A few years later the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) commissioned a local brewery, called Nesher Brewery, to supply beer to the Australian troops posted in Israel. By 1942, Nesher had to expand its plant, as demand grew from both military and civilian consumers.

Porter and Sons in Tel Aviv, Trip Advisor Porter and Sons in Tel Aviv, Trip Advisor

The present microbrewery scene boomed much later, during the first decade of the 2000s; this is when Israel began developing a real beer culture. In 2000, the first Irish Pub opened in Tel Aviv, and then appeared in Herzliya, Rehovoth and Glilot. By 2010, a local Tel Aviv bar, Porter and Sons, had more beers on tap than any other pub or bar in Israel. Around 2012, Beer Bazar opened near Shuk HaCarmel, revolutionizing the beer scene by offering more than 80 Israeli beers, over 10 Israeli ciders and their own brewed beer on tap.

As the popularity of beer grew in Israel, the country began its own Beer Festival. It started small, near the old station area of Jerusalem, and in a few years, grew to be one of the world's finest beer festivals. Every August, the festival draws crowds both from within Israel as well as abroad. There is beer made of hummus, buckwheat, gluten-free, kosher for Passover, and pumpkin beer. Beer festivals are also held in Tel Aviv, Haifa and the Mateh Yahuda region.

Malka Beer Malka Beer

Israelis continue to favor their local brews over the American or Danish brands. This has caused the formation of the Israeli Beer Club. In 2002, it was formed to promote the culture of beer amongst Israelis and to help small-scale brewers get their products on the market. club organizes workshops on beer-tasting and home-brewing, as well as beer competitions. Most Israelis know their beer better than other nationalities.

So when you do get the chance to take a trip to Israel, think twice before ordering a glass of wine, you may be surprised how good a local brew will taste!
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Topics: Arts and Culture in Israel, World Travel