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And Jerusalem said, let there be beer

by michael August 25 2008
Things to doFood
Barrels o' beer.

For nearly 60 long years the Israelis have wandered a brewer's desert, a beer wasteland, thirsts slaked and buzzes gained only by glorified seltzer water Maccabi, the slightly less terrible Goldstar, and middleweight imports Tuborg and Carlsberg. But things are changing. The people stand at the border of their long-promised land - a land flowing with malt and hops - ready to claim its bounty as their own. The beer revolution is coming.

At its vanguard is the Jerusalem Beer Festival (punnily called Ir HaBirah in Hebrew, playing on "birah"'s double meaning of "beer" and "capital"), a two-day cerevisaphilic celebration of the fizzy amber nectar of the gods, gearing up for its fourth consecutive summer. This Wednesday and Thursday, breweries major and boutique will set up stalls at the Old Train Station fairgrounds, offering more than 50 beers to the discerning (or not so discerning) Jerusalem imbiber. From international big name producers to experimental brews flavored by herbs or coffee, it's all at the Festival - and much of it remains unavailable in anemically-stocked local bars. Unfortunately, unless you're possessed of Churchillian tolerance for the sauce, you won't be nearly able to try it all in two days (Jerusalemite moves for a week-long beer festival next year). Depending on how reliable your vision is after a couple hours at the festival, you can also watch in-depth demonstrations on the traditional beer-making process.

And beer isn't all (although it is certainly enough): Fitting in with the slizzered-up nighttime youth vibe is a full lineup of hot-ish musical guests, including big rock 'n' roll draws Pshutei Ha'am (consisting of Shotei Hanevuah alumni) and the Giraffes, alongside DJ representatives from Jerusalem electronic collective Pacotek and more. For soaking up the brew, kosher food stalls will dot the Train Station grounds as well.

Gates open at 18:00; entrance is free until 19:00, after which it's 15 NIS, or 12 NIS for Jerusalem identity card holders. The party goes on until 1:00. The beer, sad to say, is not included in the admission price.

So get your lucky drinkin' caps on, and we'll see you there. Blurrily, from under a table.

Image courtesy of the Jerusalem Beer Festival.

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