The craft-beer movement has gained significant momentum in Istanbul in recent years, with numerous local breweries and pubs popping up across the city. After a high-paced day in Turkey’s cultural capital, wind down with a pint of beer at one of these excellent venues.
An increasing demand for unique flavours of beer has seen local breweries boom across Istanbul. With a wide range of classic brews and lighter options suitable for summer months, Istanbul’s beer scene no longer falls short when compared to other metropolitan areas. Istanbulite Bala Gürcan lists the best places in her city to get a pint.
Bar, Gastropub, Pub, Restaurant, Pub Grub, Fast Food, $$$
The Populist is a long-standing resident of the Bomontiada complex (an old brewery-turned-entertainment centre). A popular craft brewery and eatery with a lively atmosphere, this three-storey bar includes a DJ station set in a bright orange Volkswagen van. The bar has a rotating selection of 12 beers on tap from its “Torch” range, which includes a red ale, smoked ale, IPA, stout and wheat beer, alongside more experimental options like the Tonka Bean Stout and Honey Pepper Ale.
Tucked behind the metro station in residential Gayrettepe, the Bosphorus Brewing Company (BBC) is one of Istanbul’s few brewpubs. Created in 2012 by one Turkish partner and a British couple, BBC’s beers are made from hops brought from Norfolk, England – meaning the brews here can be pricey. A quintessential English pub, BBC serves classic British food, including shepherd’s pie, sausages and fish and chips. First-time visitors are offered tasters on a tray and get to pick their favourite beer. The brewpub’s Brew 81 pale ale is a crowd favourite, yet those who like stronger flavours can opt to try its creamy stout beer, Karbon.
Now spread across various locations in Istanbul, Ayı Pub, which translates to ‘Bear Pub’, originally gained popularity through its hip Moda location on Istanbul’s Anatolian side. It boasts an impressive list of beer from various countries and also hosts several DJ performances every month – so come prepared to dance.
Beer Hall, located in the trendy Akaretler district, is a popular spot among young residents. Featuring a quirky festival theme, the bar’s interior decor includes mini fast-food trucks, popcorn carts, retro neon signs and long picnic tables. Alongside lots of classic options on tap and in bottles, Beer Hall’s aptly named ‘Beer Cocktails’ include the Beergarita, Frozen Beer and Beer Sangria. The low prices and easy-going vibe mean it is never easy to find free spots at its communal tables – so arrive early to bag a place.
Taps Bebek has incredible views of the Bosporus | Courtesy of Taps Bebek
Enjoy your beer while taking in stunning views of the Bosporus at Taps Bebek, a bar housed in a three-storey mansion on the seaside. This cheerful venue has upbeat music blaring through its speakers and soccer games on its TV all day. Taps Bebek was one of the first craft breweries in Istanbul and helped spearhead the craft-beer movement in the city.
Among the most established spots in the central district of Beşiktaş, Joker No:19 is a bar with a relaxed vibe. With another branch, Joker No:5, based in stylish Nişantaşı, Joker has secured its spot as a town favourite. Offering a variety of food and beer alternatives, the bar has something for everyone’s taste. Although the space might seem small from outside, there is a spacious outdoor area at the back suitable for larger groups.
Another classic pub in the Kadıköy neighbourhood, Zeplin is also an Istanbul favourite, meaning it is always full on weekends. However, its laid-back atmosphere and extensive beer varieties always make it worth the trip (even with the crowds). The thing that makes Zeplin really stand out is its food, with dishes such as collard green salad with quinoa, mac ‘n’ cheese, shepherd’s pie and tacos available.
Another pub in the Akaretler neighbourhood, Craft Beer Lab has made a name for itself with a menu of over 100 award-winning brands of craft beer from around the world. Its space looks small from the outside, so the magnificent garden inside might catch you off guard. The knowledgeable staff here will be able to help you pair your food with the perfect beer – although the loaded nachos with a Marston’s Pedigree amber ale comes highly recommended.