It’s the kind of thing people in Istanbul have been waiting for for ages: a place where they can get good beer – not just Efes or Tuborg or Bomonti – accompanied by decent food with good service in a pleasant atmosphere.
It’s not a lot to ask, really, but in Istanbul – particularly in Beyoglu with its proliferation of identical bars all serving otuzluks of Efes for 9 TL – a good-quality pub has always been elusive, one step above and beyond the status quo offerings of surly barmen whose only qualification is their literal ability to draw a tap.
But the Bosphorus Brewing Company clearly had something else in mind when it opened in mid-November.
There are 5 beers currently on tap, with a stout to come (it was available at opening, but quickly sold out). My personal favorites are the Halic Gold, a lively and strong beer (7.4% alcohol) and the Beer 81.
Just last week, we celebrated a friend’s birthday there, and Jeff and I started off with the 5-beer sampler: 5, 5-cl shots of beer to get a taste of each one. While I liked the Icmedik and the Istanbul Pale Ale, both reminded me quite a bit of what is already on offer in the local beer market. I imagine both would be excellent served cold in the summer time on the pub’s terrace, but after the sampling, I immediately went for a glass of the Beer 81, followed by the Halic Gold.
The food is excellent, as well, and very English -- sausages and mash, beer-battered shrimp, lamb curry, steak in ale, chile con carne (served over rice, very strange to this American), bread pudding and sticky toffee pudding.
The pub was packed last weekend, its second after opening, which was a good sign but of course not entirely unexpected. Any new place here attracts an immediate and large crowd, which can quickly wane as the months wear on and people grow bored and search out the next new thing.
While the Bosphorus Brewing Company is a boon for expats, pub culture does not really exist in Istanbul. As foreigners were pounding back beers last weekend, a large table was crowded with Turkish people, many of them women, each of who appeared to sip one beer over several hours. Clearly, local café culture -- in which people sit for hours sipping 2-3 teas and paying 3 TL for it -- will not transition well to a British pub.
Still, the Bosphorus Brewing Company offers something no one else in the city does, and for that, it is very likely to develop a loyal and faithful crowd.
More info: Bosphorus Brewing Company website