Find Your Next Beercation in Armenia: Exploring the Beer-Making History, Breweries, and Festivals
Find Your Next Beercation: Exploring the Beer-Making History and Festivals
It’s true – Armenia has quite the reputation for its wines and cognacs. But did you know that the country boasts a long history of beer-brewing too?
If you’re an enthusiast ready to plan your next “beercation” – a getaway revolving around brewery visits, beer festivals and immersion in the culture and craft of beer – here’s what you need to know!
History of Beer
Beer has been produced in Armenia for millennia. In the 5th century BCE, after arriving at a village in ancient Armenia, the Greek Philosopher Xenophon wrote in his book the Anabasis about large clay pots used to ferment wheat and barley. He observed the use of special reeds which were used like straws to drink a beverage out of the pots. “When unmixed with water, the drink was very strong,” Xenophon wrote, “but for local people it was a very pleasant drink." Little did he know that many people would enjoy drinking beer for years to come!
In 1936, Russian archaeologist and historian Boris Piotrovsky corroborated Xenophon's writings while excavating the fortress of Teishebaini, a city-fortress built during the 7th century Urartian period. During a dig, Piotrovsky’s team uncovered clay jars with blackened barley seeds.
Taking into account these facts, Armenia has strong data to back up its claim to fame as the potential birthplace of beer.
Over the centuries, Armenian beer-making techniques evolved. The beverage was diluted and barley became the grain of choice. In fact, “garejur,” the word for beer in Armenian, means “barley water.”
The first brewery in modern Armenia was opened in 1892 in Yerevan. Known as Zanga Brewery, the plant was located in the Hrazdan River gorge. But during the Soviet era, the beer industry in Armenia scaled back intensively due to a rise in anti-alcoholic sentiment.
The history of beer in Armenia’s cultural capital, Gyumri, dates back to 1898. The beautiful historic Alexandropol Brewery is located on Jivani Street in Gyumri’s downtown district. Gyumri’s large beer factory opened in 1970. You’ll pass it on your right when you enter the city on the highway from Yerevan.
Yerevan Brewery, opened in 1952, is Armenia’s largest operating brewery. It produces several types of popular beer. You can also find plenty of other local brews produced throughout the country; many are named after modern and ancient cities in Armenia.
The Craft Beer Scene
In recent years, there has been a surge of craft breweries in Armenia, focusing on traditional brewing techniques and locally sourced ingredients. These breweries strive to revive ancient beer recipes and incorporate Armenian cultural elements into their products.
Now, you can enjoy craft beer, such as IPAs and lagers, as well as ales made from local fruits like apricot and cherry.
Many of these craft breweries have spacious patios for enjoying refreshing brews under the summer sun. Some have also begun to bottle their most popular brews for grocery stores and restaurants across the city.
Today, beer holds a special place in Armenian culture, enjoyed during sports events, barbeque gatherings in nature, in pubs, and as a part of the local culinary experience. It continues to evolve, reflecting Armenia's rich history and embracing the diversity of beer styles from around the world.
Plan your beercation around the annual Beer Days – a festival of all things beer! This year, Beer Days will take place in Yerevan's Zakyan Street from July 22 to 23. Beat the heat with refreshing glasses of local favourites and novelties alike. There will be beer tasting, masterclasses, food tents, music and games. Entry is free, but in order to enjoy the event to the maximum, you can order a tasting package for 10,000 AMD. You’ll get a branded leather corset, a commemorative beer mug and 15 coupons to redeem at different vendors.
The annual Gastrofest in Dilijan centers around food, but there’s good beer to enjoy along with your meal. Like the Beer Days festival, you can purchase a pack of tickets and choose delicious plates from different vendors.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Published on July 19, 2023