Middle Eastern Beers
Legend has it that beer was invented by the good people of Mesopotamia (now known as Iraq) a long, long time ago. They even long wrote poems which praised the patron gods of brewing while also providing handy beer recipes.
Fast forward to 2016 AD, and the Middle East isn’t really known for beer. Your neighbourhood bottle shop will probably have UK beer section and a US beer section as well as Belgian and German bottles… if it’s a switched on bottle emporium it might have a Scandinavian section or even some Italian brews, because they’re brewing some good stuff over there as well.
I can bet there isn’t a Middle Eastern section, though. However, we assure you that Middle Eastern beer is alive and well. Well, maybe not in Saudi Arabia - where all alcohol is very illegal no matter how thirsty you are. In those Middle Eastern countries where beer is available, options are often limited to fizzy yellow stuff like Amstel.
One of our number has just returned from Amman, Jordan and managed to pick up a few bottles of a more interesting type. We sat down and drank them and wrote some words on the subject.
Carakale – Pale Ale (Jordan)
Our first beer hails from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s only microbrewery, which goes by the name of Carakale. It’s named after a funky looking desert cat, apparently. The pale ale is modeled on a west coast pale, it’s sweet and juicy, with hints of treacle on the nose and a slightly metallic, bitter aftertaste. Very good stuff.
Carakale – Mocha Stout (Jordan)
This is apparently the first stout to ever be brewed in Jordan. A medium bodied, classic-tasting dark beer with savoury undertones. It’s spritzy and lively, and finishes with mild lingering coffee tang.
Carakale – Blonde Ale (Jordan)
The blonde ale is Carakale’s flagship brew. Soft hop aroma gives way to a pleasing bitterness, although lacking a huge amount of punch. It has some interesting caramel and peach flavours, but overall doesn’t stand up to the other brews we tried.
Taybeh Beer – Golden Lager (Palestine)
Taybeh’ is Arabic for delicious. It’s the only craft brewery in the West Bank and offers four German-inspired styles (Light, Golden, Amber, and Dark) plus a Beglian-style witbier and a non-alcoholic beer for the devoutly teetotal. We sampled their bottom fermented ‘Golden’ beer. It pours with a freakishly huge white head, and tastes crisp and dry with sweet malty flavours.Not bad.
GoldStar – Unfiltered Lager (Israel)
The only macrobrew of our selection, Goldstar Unflitered is a variation on one of Israel’s most popular beers. It reminds us of a dunkel lager with an aromatic wheaty smell and a very pleasant smoky, yeasty sweetness. A pleasant, clean drinking brew. You can probably tell from the picture that we drunk this one at the end of the session.
So will we be filling our fridge at HQ with tasty middle eastern suds? Well no, probably not, because they’re bloody hard to get hold of. But if we happen to be in Israel, Jordan or Palestine anytime soon we know what to ask for at the bar.