Enjoying their suds at the 2021 Beer Festival. (photo credit: MIKE HORTON)
Enjoying their suds at the 2021 Beer Festival. (photo credit: MIKE HORTON)
Jerusalem Beer Festival (‘Ir Habira’) opens the capital’s summer season

The Jerusalem Beer Festival is coming early this year – July 6-7. Also known as “Ir Habira” (a Hebrew word play that can mean either “Capital City” or “Beer City”), the festival has usually been held toward the end of the summer holiday.

I asked the organizer, Eli Giladi, why this year was different.

“We wanted the Jerusalem Beer Festival to open the capital’s summer events season rather than close it,”

Eli Giladi

“We wanted the Jerusalem Beer Festival to open the capital’s summer events season rather than close it,” he explained. “Also, most of the major brewers release their limited editions at the start of the summer and the festival offers them a venue to reach the public quickly.” 

This is the 17th year that Giladi has organized the festival. He promises that this year’s will be presenting over 150 different beers – both Israeli-brewed and foreign imports.

Some local beers are being made especially for the festival. For example, the Shapiro Brewery in Beit Shemesh will be pouring a new Session IPA, which simply means that it’s a light and crisp India Pale Ale with a low level of alcohol by volume (ABV). 

 Enjoying their suds at the 2021 Beer Festival. (credit: MIKE HORTON) Enjoying their suds at the 2021 Beer Festival. (credit: MIKE HORTON)

HaGibor (“The Hero”) Brewery in Carmiel is unveiling something similar, which they call a Summer IPA.

At the other end of the scale, look out for an 11% ABV Belgian Triple strong ale from the Srigim Brewery in Srigim (Li-On). This is not a beer to gulp down on a hot summer’s day! 

Two Israeli breweries will be making their first appearance at this year’s festival. Brewer Roi Levy will be offering his two Malkat Ha’emek (“Queen of the Valley”) beers: Pale Ale and IPA. Then there’s White Star Beer from Aryeh Stern & Co., brewed in Israel but giving the addresses, “Tel Aviv & London.”

Other Israeli breweries that will once again be pouring their beers include Hatch (Jerusalem), Jem’s (Petach Tikva), Alexander (Emek Hefer), Shevet (Pardess Hanna), Oak & Ash (Beit Shemesh), Reisel Beer (Galilee) and BeerBazaar (Kiryat Gat). There will also be imported beers from European and other countries.

WHILE YOU’RE strolling amid the breweries, be sure you stop at Kadima Beer and taste their offerings brewed by young adults with cerebral palsy and other severe physical disabilities. This is a project run by the Adult Day Center of Tsad Kadima (A Step Forward), an organization that provides educational and rehabilitative services to children and adults nationwide. 

Once a week or so, the Center in Jerusalem is transformed into a brewery, with the participants making and bottling several styles of beer. Brewing is an activity that gives these people a feeling of motivation, achievement and accomplishment. The Jerusalem Beer Festival will give you a chance to meet and support this wonderful project.

For the first time as well, there will be an Information Table at the festival, sponsored by the “Israel Brews and Views” blog on Israeli craft beer. You can stop by to ask where you can find your favorite beers and anything about them, or about the festival. 

Another praiseworthy innovation at next week’s festival is the introduction of reusable cups. At most beer festivals in the past, brewers would serve their brews in throw-away cups, resulting in mounds of plastic trash at the end of the night. At the Jerusalem Beer Festival, you’ll be able to purchase a branded cup made of polycarbonate, stronger than glass and any other plastic, for NIS 9. Use it as you make the rounds from brewer to brewer, and then take it home as a souvenir.

The cup also comes with clips, so you can attach it to your belt or other clothing while you’re dancing to the music or otherwise need your hands free! 

Speaking of music, the Jerusalem Beer Festival will continue its tradition of having top bands blast out their music and song. On Wednesday, July 6, the stage will hold DMZL, Shotei Hanevuah (The Fools of Prophesy), Mercedes Band, Tuna, and DJ Ben Ben from Manhattan.

Thursday night, July 7, will bring the Garden City Movement, Heyehudim, Nunu, Woodstock Jerusalem, and Terra.

Both evenings will be hosted by stand-up artist Gadi Wilcherski.


HERE ARE some tips to make the festival even more enjoyable:

  • ❦ Take public transportation. You’ll avoid parking problems and driving home under the influence of any alcohol. It’s amazing how “just a sip here and just a sip there” can add up.
  • ❦ Arrive early (the gates open at 6 p.m.) so you can leisurely walk around, try different beers and even speak to the brewers. When the music starts, usually around 8-8:30 p.m., polite conversation becomes impossible. 
  • ❦ Eat before and while you’re drinking beer. This slows down the absorption of alcohol – and lets you sample more beers! Drinking water is also a good idea. As every year, there will be food stands at the festival (including vegan dishes), but you can also bring your own food. Note: You cannot bring in any cans or bottles. These will be confiscated.
  • ❦ The beer festival is a great opportunity to try beers you are not familiar with, but keep it slow and pace yourself. Most importantly: You do not have to try everything. Drink moderately, have a good time, and get home safely. 
  • The Jerusalem Beer Festival (Ir Habira) will take place Wednesday and Thursday, July 6 and 7, at Independence Park, beginning at 6 p.m. The entrance fee is NIS 90 if you buy your ticket online (www.jerusalembeer.com/tickets/en). For soldiers, National Service members, students and Yerushalmi cardholders, the price is NIS 80. Expect the price to be even higher if you buy your ticket at the gate. You have to be at least 18 to enter. ❖

The writer is the owner of MediawiSe, an agency for advertising and direct marketing in Jerusalem. He writes a web log on Israeli craft beers at www.IsraelBrewsAndViews.blogspot.co.il

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