It’s common knowledge that Jews, and therefore most Israelis, don’t drink much beer. And they certainly don’t produce it. Well guess again. Not only does Israel produce some great beers but the history of Jews and beer goes way back to the Babylonian exile in 586 BCE!
And not only did Jews acquire a taste for beer but they have a long history of brewing it too. In fact, Rabbis Chisda and Papa of the Talmud were both known to be brewers in 4th century Iraq.
Once the British Mandate was established in the Land of Israel after WWI various breweries emerged to serve the British troops stationed in the country. Make no mistake – they weren’t the only ones drinking. After the establishment of the State of Israel two large breweries emerged – Tempo and Israel Beer Industries. Tempo produces the well known Israeli brands Maccabee and Goldstar while IBI produces Carlsberg and Tuborg under license – bet you didn’t know that.
These breweries had the market cornered until the mid-2000s. Then something happened. Israel experienced a Microbrewery Revolution! The revolution is still going on. It all started with Dancing Camel Brewery which began producing beer in 2006. A night at their brewery/bar in Tel Aviv is becoming a “must do” for many tourists visiting the city. Another one of the more famous Israeli microbreweries is Jem’s, started by American immigrants. Jem’s now has bars throughout the country selling only Jem’s wide range of beers. And this list goes on – Shapiro’s, Herzl, Alexander, Golan and LiBira to name just a few.
And what about beer culture, you ask? There are bars galore in Israel. Many of the breweries have their own bars and many bars sell several craft beers. And if you want an Irish style pub we have plenty of them too! Beer festivals are annual events in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and even in smaller cities such as Be’er Sheva and Ashdod.
Until now you thought Israel just produced excellent wine. Come and try out Israel’s great beers and wine. It’s a terrific way to relax after a long day of touring the country’s fascinating sites. As we say in Hebrew when lifting a glass - Le’Chaim!