Did you know that beer was first introduced to the world in Mesopotamia? That's not too far from here! Did you also know that one of the reasons wine became more popular than beer is that the people of northern Europe, the Barbarians, drank beer, while the people of southern Europe, non-barbarians such as Plato and Aristotle, drank wine? Gabi Dviri, owner of Beer-D and a consultant for the upcoming beer festival, knows it. But he doesn't go around broadcasting such anti-beer information just so you can impress your drunken friends, rather he's gunning for greater exposure to the wide world of beer and the prospect of growing the beer culture in Israel. "To have a culture," Dviri explains, "beer drinking needs to be a part of the country for a long time. In Germany and Ireland, for example, there is a vast beer culture. They have drinking songs, specific customs and special foods to accompany the beverage." At the upcoming beer festival in Tel Aviv, some of these very customs will be taken from those cultural drunkards to help foster that sudsy, festive spirit. As such, Izhar Ashdot and Black Velvet will play Irish music. And, for those of you who prefer a more local sound, Maor Cohen, Peter Rot and the Matbucha Project are also scheduled to play. Food at the event will include American-style fried chicken, German frankfurters, Dutch fries, South American assado and the ubiquitous pretzel. "This sort of festival is very common around the world," says Eli Levi, the festival's producer. "Beer companies joined forces to emphasize the full beer experience by providing exposure to the variety of different beer brands available in Israel." If you're of the opinion that good drinking means a lot of drinking, then this plethora of brands should come as some very welcome news. 75 different brands from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Japan and Thailand will be introduced alongside the already familiar labels of Heineken, Leffe, Samuel Adams, as well as the less familiar but already available such as Schnider and Lindemans. I'm giddy just writing about it. Dviri, surprisingly enough, is a strong supporter of American beers. Surprisingly because of the age-old saying that American beer is like sex in a canoe - they're both f%#*ing close to water. But Dviri insists, "Czechs and the English make good beers, but they're very conservative. Belgium makes crazy beers and the Americans, as is the case with everything, take it one step further." Israel will be represented by the perennial favorites of both tourists and kibbutzniks - Goldstar and Maccabi and by one microbrewery, the ever-so-delicious Dancing Camel. "Beer culture in Israel is still in its infancy," Dviri explains. Locally, there isn't much available in regards to boutique brews other than the Camel, the Golan Heights Brewery and the divine Palestinian brew Taybeh. Though, the latter is always hard to get out to festivals due to checkpoints and frequent border closings. But the culture is growing. At any given bar a few years ago you could only find three beers on tap at most. Now many bars have from 10 to 15 taps. So, all we need now is a local beer song. What rhymes with bira? The beer festival takes place at Hangar 11 on the Tel Aviv port from Dec. 15-16 from 6 p.m. to midnight. Entrance is NIS 22 and includes one beer sample. Sampling further costs from NIS 8-16 for 220 ml and NIS 16-24 for 330ml. For more information and tickets call *8965.