Foreigners might be disappointed when choosing the best Turkish beers because choices are not as extensive as other countries. Although beer has long existed in the Anatolia region, Turkey's beer industry only started in the 19th century by the Bomonti brothers, who opened a brewery in Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the new Turkish Republic, also founded the first factory in Ankara, Turkey's new capital. But while other nationalities crack open bottles after work, Turks generally wait for weekends or special occasions. Additionally, one name dominates 84% of Turkey's beer industry, and Raki, the national alcoholic drink, is a firm favourite of Turks.
However, do not be put off just yet, because every beer drinker will find versions in Turkey that sit pleasantly on their palette. In addition, while Turkey's craft beer market might be currently small, there is much potential and optimism for future brands to emerge, which is good news for Turks and foreigners who like nothing more than ice-cold beers on hot summer days. So, let us look at where to go and which beers give the perfect drinking experience in Turkey.
The Best Turkish Beers and Brands
1: Turkish Anadolu Efes
Efes dominates Turkey's beer market with its Pilsen version. Widely sold in shops and many restaurants, they also offer dark, dark brown, extra, gluten-free, and draft. Efes's fame spreads further than its brewery in Turkey, though because 60 per cent of their sales are in Europe and abroad, so you do not have to come to Turkey to sample it. It is the world's tenth-largest producer, with 26 factories in ten countries. Officially known as Anadolu Efes, advertising used to be everywhere until the Turkish government curbed practices. Some shops also sell Marmara, a cheaper bottle of theirs. Alcohol content varies between 3 to a high 7.5%.
2: Tuborg Beer
Widely seen as an alternative and contender to Efes, Tuborg does well yet cannot capture Turkey's market share. Founded in Izmir in 1967, they brew their beers to the tune of millions of barrels annually. Incredibly proud of the barley they use for brewing, some beer drinkers also turn to Tuborg, citing Efes as too gassy. Tuborg also handles Carlsberg, Skol, Sol, Guinness and Kornenbourg import beers.
3: Bomonti Brand
As the oldest Turkish beer in the last five years, this bottle rebounded after tanking in the early part of the century, especially in trendy parts of Istanbul. Known for no sugar, 100% malt brewing, these days, it is no surprise to learn that Anadolu Efes manage production. Additionally, younger generations prefer Bomonti citing more pleasant tastes, almost reminiscing with soft drinking. With three different versions and alcohol content of 4.3% to 5.8%, Bomonti is worth trying.
4: Pera Beer
Produced by the former Tuborg CEO, this beer is rare outside of big cities like Istanbul. Some Turks may never even have heard of it; hence it falls into the craft beer category. They produce five versions; malt, amber ale, smoked lager, Hefeweizen, and a gum and cinnamon taste. Content strength ranges between 4.1% to 5%, and all versions are generally drunk by beer drinkers who want exceptional drinks rather than just cold alcoholic beverages.
5: Gara Guzu
Having only been in production since 2009, a couple who moved to Turkey's Mugla province from Istanbul originally started the Gara Guzu company. It is often called boutique beer and stands apart from more commercialised Efes versions. Beer drinkers can sample eight flavours, including blonde ale, amber ale, red ale, sour, snowy beach forest, Weissbier, summer IPA, and Gara. Alcohol content ranges from 4.5 to 6.4%. This beer is mainly sold in Istanbul and rare to see in smaller towns.
6: More Craft and Imported Beers and How to Order
To sample all beers that Turkey offers, head to Istanbul and work your way around well-known pubs and breweries there. In other smaller towns, cities, and villages, you may find your choice limited. Different beers that are harder to find but worth trying include Graf, Bosphorus, Torch, Pablo, Taps, Feliz Kolpa, Khoffner. Over ten years, imported beers have also risen in Turkey. Expect to find the usual Budweiser and Desperado. To order a beer in Istanbul or elsewhere, say Bir Bira lutfen.
7: Try Sir Winston's Pub and Bar
One Turkish company slowly spreading across Turkey is sir Winston's pub. This is one of your best bets for beer tasting since their tagline is "life is too short to drink bad beer." As well as regular beers, they offer well-known and lesser-known bottles and draughts, alongside an extensive menu choice.
Also About Turkey
Popular Beverages in Turkey: Aside from the best Turkish beers, get ready for a whirlwind journey when drinking popular beverages in Turkey. Drink industries thrive on our thirst for unique flavours, whether energy drinks, water, fruit juice, fizzy carbonated drinks, booze, or soda. Some drinks are seasonal and confined to winter and summer months, while others are firm favourites that display Turkish culture in all its glory.
Guide to Turkish Food: Any discerning traveller will observe, be aware of, and respect countrywide traditions. In the case of Turkish Customs and Social Traditions, this good advice helps you blend into crowds and, more importantly, enhances your time in Turkey. The saying goes, the best experiences stem from acting like locals, so delve into some traditional Turkish dishes to accompany your favourite beverages.
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