Israeli beer: history pages
Our beloved beer was born in the Middle East. It began to be brewed several thousand years ago in that region. Unfortunately, with the emergence of a new religion – Muslimism – it, like other alcohol, was prohibited.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the beer situation in the region began to change significantly. Brewing began to be revived again. In Israel, it is as young as the state itself, and dates back just over seven decades.
After years of forgetting, beer began to be brewed in Israel again in the 1930s. The first Palestine brewery was built by Baron Rothschild and French banker Gaston Dreyfus in 1934, before the establishment of the State of Israel. It was located on the grounds of a winery in Rishon le Zion. Visitors to the winery can still see the mosaic eagle on the site of the first Israeli brewery.
The Palestine Brewery brewed low-alcohol light and non-alcoholic dark beer “Nesher” (which means Eagle in Hebrew). Nesher beer is rightfully considered the first domestic beer.
The local beer immediately gained popularity. In those years, the country was under the British Mandate, and soldiers were happy to drink light Nesher beer to quench their thirst. From time-to-time special series were produced: beer “for Australian soldiers”, beer “for those who understand”, and later, beer “for the Israeli army”.
In the 50s, after the establishment of the State of Israel, there were already two breweries competing in the market: in Bat Yam and in Migdal-a-Emek. The Bat Yam brewery is famous for the first Maccabee lager, which is still popular today.
At the same time, the Galil brewery, founded by the English Jew Williams Robinson, was growing in the town of Migdal-a-Emek. It became famous for producing the first Israeli dark lager Goldstar alongside non-alcoholic beers. The Galil brewery also brewed Maccabee, a popular beer in Israel, and Abir, a light lager.
The competition between the two Israeli breweries ended in 1965 when the Bat Yam and Migdal-a-Emek breweries merged. The successfully thriving joint venture was bought in 1976 by Canadian Jew Maury Goldman.
Ten years later, he put his purchase up for sale. In those years, no one could have suspected that beer would become a real favorite in Israel over the years. There was no special competition for the purchase and the breweries were bought by Tempo, a company owned by the Burstein family and producing soft drinks at the time.
In those years, small private breweries periodically appeared on the market, but they could not withstand the competition with Tempo and quickly disappeared. For many years Tempo became a beer monopolist in the country. Basically 2 main brands were produced: Goldstar and Maccabee. Over the years, the association has periodically produced Amstel, Tuborg, Shandi, but the main products of the brewery are still Goldstar and Maccabee. Recently, the company has significantly expanded and began to produce also licensed beer Heineken.
In the 90s, Israel’s population increased by almost 20%. Most of the new residents came from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia, countries where beer is very popular. Taking into account the changed market, the Coca Cola concern built a super-modern Carlsberg brewery in the south of the country in the city of Ashkelon. On March 16, 1995, the first bottle of good Carlsberg Pilsner came off the conveyor belt of the new plant – the Tempo monopoly was ended.
Today, the beer market in Israel is divided between Tempo and International Beer Breweries Ltd (originally Carlsberg Brewing Company). About 10% of the market is occupied by varieties imported from various suppliers and brewed in local craft breweries. The Tempo association still produces Goldstar, Maccabee, Heineken and the non-alcoholic beer Nesher. The international brewing concern IBBL produces Carlsberg, Tuborg, Tuborg Green, Holsten and non-alcoholic beer Malty.
Currently, the two largest breweries in Israel produce only lagers. In recent years, many small craft breweries have appeared in the country. One of them, Shikma, is located right on the territory of the Ashkelon brewery. It, and other craft breweries, mainly produce various ales.