When I first arrived in Turkey (Bursa), the only beer to be found was Efes, and occasionally, the oh-so-cool western import, Miller. Although I was happy to see a familiar product appear in our little student village of Gorukle, we stuck to Efes. For starters, Miller was severely overpriced, and it wasn’t even one of my favorites back home (For my generation, Wisconsin is the home of New Glarus, not Miller). So, let’s just say I was pretty stoked when Bomonti appeared, or rather re-appeared, on the Turkish scene since it has a history thats dates back to the days of the Ottoman Empire. Check out photos of the original Bomonti brewery here. Nowadays, it’s also brewed by Efes, but it’s still a refreshing alternative to its blander cousin especially after the release of Bomonti’s unfiltered version. With Macro Center and most corner convenience stores stocking the likes of Hoegaarden and Leffe these days, the beer selection in Istanbul is without a doubt much more varied than it was just a few years ago. Nevertheless, I was still left with a burning question – did Istanbul have a craft beer culture? It turned out I didn’t have to wait for an answer for long since I kept hearing about a hidden gem over on Yildiz Posta Caddesi.
Yesterday marked my second visit to the Bosphorus Brewing Company, known in most circles as the BBC, this time with some colleagues for after-work drinks (& food). Every once in a while I like to have a decent non-Turkish meal out, and British pub food tops the list of the decidedly few options so I was overeager to try an entrée this time.
Since my roommate ordered fish and chips last time, I gave it a whirl and ordered the same. This time around, however, the portion was noticeably smaller, but the fish and chips were still quite tasty, and exactly what you’d expect of an entrée sporting the name fish and chips. As an added perk, this dish was accompanied with a smushed pea and mint side salad which was surprisingly good. (For the record, the best fish and chips I’ve ever had was at Big and Little’s in Chicago. It’s legendary.) Around the table, people were quite pleased with their entrees (rave reviews for the bacon sandwich and sausage dish), and so was I, but I am not sure I’d order it again at a price tag of 30 TL. You can check out the full menu on the BBC’s website.
The beer, on the other hand, was a completely different story. I ordered up a Halic Gold, my personal favorite, and just like the first time, I was impressed not only with the quality and taste of the beer but also with the clever names (a Cold Turkey anyone?). At approximately 14 TL a pop, I think it’s actually quite reasonable for a craft beer, plus I dig the atmosphere of the place and the waiters’ suspenders are particularly amusing. My days are certainly brighter knowing a craft beer selection is within my reach.
The verdict? Go for a beer or two. It’s well worth the trip to Gayrettepe. If you’re lucky like me, you might even live within walking distance of the BBC, and dropping in for a beer on Sunday night is a great way to dispel what my roommate aptly calls the Monday syndrome. It’s also pretty easy to get to – take the metro to Gayrettepe and it’s a short walk (less than 10 mins) from the station.
FYI: BBC has special set menus for holidays (again, on the website), and proves to be a hit among the expats since it serves pork products. The pub also gets quite busy so I’d definitely recommend making a reservation if you are a larger group.