The Jerusalem Beer Festival is a unique celebration of Israeli brewing and live music, with over 120 different beers on tap!
For the first 60 year of its existence, the standard beers offered in Israeli restaurants – Maccabi and Goldstar – were nothing to write home about. Imported beers were expensive and there was no brewing industry and no culture of drinking for pleasure.
Today all that has changed! Israel’s booming wine industry has been joined by an exciting brewing industry. There are now 20 licensed microbreweries around Israel producing fine ales, made by people who are passionate about brewing and use premium ingredients to create a range of style and flavors.
Craft breweries include the Dancing Camel craft brewery in Tel Aviv, Jem’s Brewery, started by American Olim who missed American beer, and the Golan Brewery in the north, where there is archeological evidence of brewing in the Golan Heights in ancient times.
These locally produced beers, along with a wide selection of imported brands, can be found on the shelves of specialist beer shops like Beer Bazaar in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda and Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market. There are two annual beer festivals – in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem – which offer live outdoor music and free tastings of hundreds of different beers.
Many major Israeli cities have pleasant bars and roof gardens where you can enjoy a leisurely drink and good food. The iconic Mike’s Place Pubs in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is a mixture of a traditional British pub with Guinness on tap and a selection of international beers. There are also several authentic Irish pubs around Israel offering a good selection of imported whiskeys and beers. Molly Blooms in Tel Aviv and Dublin Irish Pub in Herzliya have been voted among the best for their authentic ambience and wide choice of beverages.
Sports bars have become popular all over the world, so with the growing expatriate population in Israel it is no surprise that there are places for every nationality to enjoy watching their native sports and drinking beer with old friends. If there is a World Cup or a Championship game to be watched, you can be sure you will find a group of people in Israel who care about the outcome and have gathered together to join in the fun.
Drinking in Israel is generally regarded as an acceptable social activity for men and women, with a light-hearted atmosphere and easy-going licensing laws. Tel Aviv is usually regarded as the best posting in the Middle East for journalists for this reason! The minimum age for buying alcohol is 18, and there is none of the stigma and little of the violence associated with drinking in other countries.
So, if you are heading to Israel and looking to experience a different side of its multi-cultural social scene, head to the bar and ask for a beer!