A question I get asked often is “what’s the beer in Israel like?“. Well, to be completely honest, I’m not a huge fan of Israeli beer. Israel has two major beers that are widely available, Goldstar and Maccabee (I’m leaving aside for the moment all those tasty boutique beers and small brewery brews that have popped up over the last few years, though an article on these will come soon!); unfortunately neither have done anything for me ever since I tried them within a few hours of arriving in Israel.
But don’t let me put you off trying Israeli beer. On the contrary, when we’re in foreign climes it’s always great to try the local brews and foods, right? And Israeli beer is certainly worth a try.
Goldstar (more popular than Maccabee) has always been the cheaper drinking solution when out and about. And it’s often the substitute to fall back on when the “good” beer runs out – just last week at a friend’s party I had to settle for a couple of Goldstars as the Heineken had run dry. If I can say something good about it, it’s that you get used to it after a while. And that it’s alcoholic. But, there are lots of people who love Goldstar and won’t drink anything else, most of whom are Israelis it has to be said.
As for Maccabee, let’s just say that it’s good that this Israeli beer is not as available as Goldstar. If you’re stuck with this as your only option, may the Gods be with you…No, only joking, it’s not that terrible, but it’s just not that great. If you’re stuck with Maccabee or Goldstar, Goldstar is your poison.
Be aware that if you are offered another Israeli beer called Nesher, don’t expect to feel a buzz. Nesher is a black beer, alcohol-free, and even available in large 1.5 liter bottles.
Although the drinking scene in Israel has changed a lot over the last few years (for example, the annual Jerusalem Beer Festival might give you an idea of how things have developed), according to official numbers, over 75% of beer sales in Israel are from off-sales locations such as supermarkets, rather than bars. I wonder how much of that is Goldstar and Maccabee…
And if you catch some Israeli TV, you might get to see some of the advertising that keeps Goldstar popular in Israel. Goldstar is the only Israeli beer you’ll see advertised, though some might argue Israeli TV screens would be better off without the ads…because, as you might be able to tell from the clips below, they are just a wee bit on the sexist side. But hey, they’re still funny (if you have a sense of humor).
“Say Thanks that you’re a man and drink something”
“Honey, why doesn’t anyone pass the ball to the guy in black?”
And as well as the fairly numerous TV ads for Goldstar, they also created a series of print ads that were placed above urinals in pubs and clubs. Here are some examples. Again, chauvinistic, but cute.
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I say Thank God you’re a man. Or a woman.
And don’t forget your Hebrew when clunking glasses with the locals:
L’Chaim! (don’t forget the cccchhhh) = Cheers!