If there’s one opportunity a world class destination like Istanbul has missed over recent years it’s the ability to quench a real ale drinker’s thirst. The individuality, personality and touch of a small craft b**r brewmaster has, up until now, been absent. Craft -brewed, ‘real’ ales and brew pubs have become a huge success in the US and elsewhere, all part of a new aesthetic involving value for money, honest workmanship and independence. It’s now well known that even US President, Barak Obama brews his own beer in the White House and that interest and love of the craft was built into his winning campaign strategy.
The honesty of a real beer is now something for which Istanbullu no longer have to wait. The opening of the Bosphorus Brewing Company, a co-venture between Sedat Zincırkiran and Philip Hall, founded on principles of honest craftsmanship and unique character stakes its reputation on the provision of real character ales served with gourmet food in an authentic brew pub setting.
Hall, who is also the company’s brewmaster has this to say, “More than ever, Turks are travelling, working and studying abroad and developing the taste for the individuality of crafted beers with character. There’s nowhere in Istanbul where you can drink a genuine, locally brewed ale and have a great conversation to go with it. There’s certainly a market — and that’s not even accounting for the surge in expats and foreigners living within the city.”
Peering at the shelves in the supermarkets with their newfound variety of imported beers, as well as the coolers in trendy bars, would seem to validate the idea that there’s a thirst for change. Even the development of full malt, unfiltered beers by local yet, largely indifferent giants, Efes and Tuborg, seems to point to the need for variety.
With Zincırkiran’s support, Hall and his family have invested the last two years of their lives in an effort to put together a viable, working brewery and pub serving beer that could put Istanbul on the map as a beer-connoisseur’s destination. Hall’s eldest son, Tristan, has deferred going to university for a year to help his father lay down batches at the pub. Zincırkiran’s years of experience in the catering sector have proven invaluable in assisting Hall’s wife, Jill create a menu designed to complement the flavours of the craft beers.
Hall has not only been a key player in the planning and management of the project, but also in the actual creation and design of the brewing equipment and setup of the brewery’s systems and infrastructure. During construction, it was not unusual to find him in overalls, undertaking fabrication work or installing new systems. He will continue to do the brewing himself as well as pull pints from behind the bar so that he can meet and greet customers, whom he believes will feel confident to engage him in developing a dialogue about what constitutes great beer, thus creating a friendship between himself and members of the community whose thirst for authenticity he intends to satisfy, as well as making them active members of the Bosphorus Brewing Company’s mission.
The Bosphorus Brewing Company became a reality because Zincırkiran and Hall, both keen private pilots, met by chance at Hazerfen airfield more than six years ago leading to their friendship and a mutual desire to see a real ale culture return to the part of the world from which it originally emanated. Hall is keen to point out that brewing beer is an ancient craft that actually began in this region of the world. “The Bosphorus Brewing Company is bringing b**r alive again in its homeland. We’re renewing an ancient journey that invites anyone interested to explore the ways taste and community can evolve. Along the way we hope to help everyone discover what a real b**r is and how its character can be as complex and just as interesting as the people with whom we share a pint.”
“Customers will be able to come in and become part of the brewing process with their feedback,” remarks Hall. “In order to start the dialogue, we’ll have five stock character brews with distinct personalities and attributes that you won’t taste anywhere else. We will create special brews inspired by and crafted from working with our community. We’re certainly not here to dictate what people want. Our patrons will be as much a part of this process as we are. They will tell us.”
Hall and Zincirkiran believe that what constitutes craft is the moment when the personality of the craftsman and the character of the community become fundamental to the development of the brewer’s art. This is what distinguishes the Bosphorus Brewing Company from brewers who simply research market trends and brand, distancing the brewmasters from their communities.
Real character stands out, is the Bosphorus Brewing Company’s mantra in that they hope to bring the authentic personality of their community to the real ales it drinks. Given the early enthusiasm, and customer feedback, Hall and Zincırkiran seem to be well on their way to a winning concept.