|Bringing friends together for 6,000 years:|
Babylonian beer drinkers.
What about wine? Also a social drink, but wine is polite conversation, quiet laughter, dainty sips, holding your wine glass up high so others can see it. Beer is letting your hair down with real friends, using the malt and hops to help you pry out discussions that really matter. I'm generalizing here, of course, but wine interacts with people; beer connects them.
And so it is with beer festivals. Not only are they great social events, but they also give beer lovers an opportunity to try all the new (and some old) Israeli craft beers in one place.
I wanted to tell you what to expect in 2014, like, "you read it here first." Even though I found out it's still too early for the actual dates, this is what I do know about the four major public events.
|TA Beer Festival in the winter vs. . . .|
Jerusalem Beer Festival - "Ir Habira" -- The last one was in Independence Park, a great improvement over the parking lot of the First Train Station! Eli the organizer told me that this year's will also be in Independence Park, sometime in August. He said that this will be the tenth year of the Jerusalem Beer Festival and, to celebrate, a number of the city's bars and restaurants will be offering specials.
|. . . Jerusalem Beer Festival in the summer.|
One other note: Last summer's Jerusalem Festival divided the brewers into two groups, with the "bigger" ones on the high ground, and the start-ups bunched together and sharing tables in the lower area. I understand they had to pay very little, if anything, for their space. For the major brewers, you had to pay for the beer, but the start-ups were giving it away for free. As you can imagine, these new guys were inundated by mobs of people and it was difficult to even reach their tables. Their supplies of beer soon ran out. Although I think it's a good idea to give new breweries exposure to the public, and it should be continued, I would hope there's a way to avoid the mob scenes in the future. Don't ask me how.
|Beer buddies are the best kind.|
Beer City Festival in Haifa -- Don't look for Israeli boutique beers at this festival. It's sponsored by Tempo Beer Industries, brewers of Goldstar and Maccabi, and those, along with some foreign beers which Tempo imports (such as Heineken, Paulaner, Murphy's and Samuel Adams), are the only brews available. There is good music, though, since with Goldstar as its backer, it has the budget to get some of the biggest names in Israeli popular music. It takes place on the Students Beach and, alone among beer festivals, entrance is free. This helps explain why it draws the largest crowds by far of any Israeli beer festival.
By the way, the Beer Festival in Haifa started out 20 years ago as the Goldstar Beer Festival, opening at the Tel Aviv Port. It moved over to Charles Clore Park near Jaffa (where I attended it a couple of times), and then after the Second Lebanon War in 2006, moved to Haifa as a show of solidarity with the residents of the North.
The secretary at the Haifa Tourism Board laughed when I asked for the exact date. "That's all the way off in the summer," she said.
|Paying for tickets at the Jerusalem Beer Festival.|
So, as 2014 begins and with the summer festivals only eight or so months away, I wish everyone a Happy Brew Year!