If you’ve ever visited a Middle Eastern country, one noticeable difference to Europe is restriction on alcohol. Muslims are not allowed to drink according to scripture (read why Muslims don’t drink here) so depending on the ruling government, access to alcohol may be restricted to your local hotel or nearby speakeasies (big in Iran) or it may be available widely, like in Turkey.
Some Middle East Muslims do choose to drink alcohol, with brewing traditions that span back to ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian times (try our recipe for Tej, Ethiopian honey beer), and not all of the Middle East is Muslim. And read about this 5000 year old microbrewery found in the Holy Land.
Yazan Karadesh, a local Arab Christian from Amman, for instance has started brewing Jordan’s first craft brewery, hoping to compete in the $22 billion US craft beer market. He went through a difficult experience getting the permit and the land on which to brew (according to this article in Haaretz). He eventually found Christian-owned land in a Christian suburb called Fuheis.
Karadesh’s brand brewed in Amman is called Carakale Brewery. It is infused with Middle Eastern flavors, unique to the region, he says.
Taybeh beer from the West Bank, Israel is one of the more notable beers from the region. There is also Shepherd’s and Wise Men’s Choice.
But Jordan’s Yazan Karadesh wants his own in Amman: “Alcohol might be taboo but you can find alcohol and buy alcohol easily in the market,” he says.
Craft beer is a good alternative to cracking the monopoly that beer makers such as Carlsberg and Heineken own in the Middle East region.
Dancing Camel brewery with 2 locations in Tel Aviv is cracking through the monopoly in its own way. It already infuses its beers with local flavors such as pomegranate. It was Israel’s first craft brewery and by many standards has influenced a whole culture of craft beer making in the entire region.
This movement of craft beer making joins the local DIY movement in the Middle East. Trends such as urban farming (hydroponics), craft making and returning to a simpler lifestyle is taking root.