Friday, July 27, 2012

The "Original" Turkish Brewpub

[Being without the blogging computer for some time, I'm now doing some blog catch-up work on previous beer adventures.]

Having already been to one of Turkey's two purported brewpubs, we thought we should give the other a try; we were back in Istanbul, where two of the five locations of "Taps" are found.

We hopped a tram and a bus north to Bebek, a quiet and picturesque (and probably expensive) part of Istanbul. Bebek is home to the nicest Starbucks I've ever seen - two stories overlooking the Bosphorous.

And of course, being upscale and a tourist hub, how can it not have fleets of fast food delivery scooters?

I can't imagine the contents of those boxes are worth a delivery charge...

Plus lovely & big yachts moored strait-side.

And much more successful fishermen than down at Sultanamet, often pulling out wee fish on every one of the 10 or so tiny hooks on their lines.

This little fellas end up cooked whole in a hot skillet

But I digress.  Taps Bebek is right across the street from the nice boats and fishermen, and looks very much like you'd expect a brewpub to look, complete with a strong logo and nice views.

Even street level has a decent view

Hmm, the at-your-table taps are a bit gimmicky, but this is set up for tourists rather than locals, so understandable.

Wow, look at this beer list.  It's huge!  Incredible variety.  This look promising.  If only we weren't the only people here... and the only employee appears to be mopping something out back & ignoring us; I wonder where the servers are.

Still, check out the different types of drinks available!  You can get a tourist-friendly brewtender, several different sizes and types of beer, there are happy hour specials - and you can even get a sampler, perfect.  How could this be anything but great?  As long as you avoid the Bud, etc.

Oh there's our server - also the guy with the mop.  He's pointing at the chalkboard.  What's that, you only have what's on the chalkboard?  And no samplers or other sizes, just mugs?  Hmm, well, that's disappointing.  But 3 'real' beers on tap is still excellent for Turkey.  Then again, the list of non-house-made beers is rather worrisome - and EXPENSIVE!  $8.70 Canadian for Bud, Amstel, Heineken, Corona?  Come to think of it, the menu is very western but similarly astronomical in price.  Oh well, we came for the beer, not for a facsimile of north american pub food.

Hmm, my mistake.  So you only have 'light' and 'dark' on tap, despite the chalkboard.  Funny, that's exactly what the Red Tower had on tap.  Gulp.  Well, let's try one of each then.

Yep, looks like beer, smells somewhat like beer.  Tastes...

Well, yeah, that's beer.  The 'light' is passable if not noticeably tasty - but what would normally be a disappointing beer back home is a huge win in Turkey!  Here is a small brewer producing beer that doesn't entirely suck, and that's a great thing, especially in a country not know for beer or brewing culture.  The dark, well, it's a bit watery and isn't the best recipe, similar to Red Tower's dark.  But hey, baby steps.

So, Taps, while you have all the trappings of a brewpub, and are much, MUCH closer than the Red Tower Brewpub was to achieving a good craft beer experience, you still have some work before you're a worthwhile visit.  Start with the beer - I know tourists don't usually taste the drinks they knock back, but it's not that difficult to be a flavour champion when your competition is Efes.  Clearly someone with brewpub/beer knowledge set this place up, you just need to find some employees that know how to brew and set them loose on some professionally-penned recipes.  It's a tough slog when the short path to riches involves dumping cocktails and international-label beer on tourists, especially when it's probably impossible to find someone in the country with a real passion for craft beer - or even someone who has tasted a craft beer or been to a proper brewpub.  But keep at it - you don't appear to have any real competitors, so you've got a leg up!

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