Beer in Turkey
Beer is a very popular alcoholic drink in Turkey. Commonly, the most popular Turkish beers are lager-type beers.
Beer has existed as a drink in Anatolia since the Sumerian civilization. Archaeological findings have shown that the Sumerians knew how to ferment beer. The early Turks in Anatolia fermented boza, which was very similar to kvass.
The modern history of beer in Turkey began with the Ottoman Empire. During certain periods of the Ottoman Empire, drinking alcoholic beverages was prohibited in some cities, but many small producers in Istanbul produced boza with a high alcohol content such as beer. The beer was initially brewed and served in Erzurum by some small Armenian producers in the “beer gardens” (Turkish: bira bahçeleri). The first modern brewing in Turkey began with the Bomonti Brewery in Istanbul in 1894 by the Swiss Bomonti brothers.
There were many pubs and bars in Istanbul, Izmir and Thessaloniki. Beer production in the Ottoman Empire was 1.2 billion liters in 1894. This increased to 9.9 billion liters in 1913-1914.
Atatürk, the first president of the Turkish Republic, founded a brewery in Ankara. İsmet İnönü, the first prime minister of Turkey, worked to improve the old Bomonti Beer Company. This created the first beer competition in Turkey.
The most famous beers to drink in Turkey
The Turkish beer market experienced 20% growth from 2001 to 2005, with many international brands gaining popularity.
Efes Beverage Group, a subsidiary of Anadolu Group, is the largest beer producer in Turkey, with around 80% of the market. Their main product line is called Efes Pilsen (5.0% ABV), after the Turkish name of the ancient city of Ephesus near the İzmir Brewery. Efes also produces Efes Dark, Efes Light, Efes Extra, Bomonti and Marmara. Furthermore, since March 2005, Foster’s Lager has been produced, marketed and distributed in Turkey through the Efes Beverage Group. Efes exports to the markets of Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.
Efes also produces a Hefe Weiss and a Hefe Weiss Dunkel under the Gusta label. A further addition is the Efes Dark Brown which is coffee flavored.
Türk Tuborg, a former subsidiary of the Danish Carlsberg / Tuborg group, also brews beer in Turkey under the name Tuborg, but is now owned by the Israeli Central Bottling Company. The Danish Carlsberg is also popular in Turkey among other brands found internationally.
Another major brand, Tekel Birası, is known as the oldest brewer in Turkey (founded in 1890). It was a state monopoly brand until 2004. There is also Perge Pilsner managed by the Sural group.