Having just returned from mid-summer in Turkey, we did our fair share of beer-drinking and it didn’t take long to pick a winner in Efes Pilsen, which unsurprisingly turned out to be the national favourite.
Beer aficionados describe this multi-award-winning brew as having a “tangy malt and hops aroma, rich malt in the mouth and a bitter-sweet finish that becomes dry and hoppy”.
We loved it and were intrigued to learn that its unique flavour is attributed to rice being added at the brewing stage.
It seems the Turkish are moving away from the more traditional raki (aniseed-flavoured alcoholic drink) in favour of beer, with sales increasing and international brands such as Miller’s, Foster’s and Beck’s gaining in popularity.
The Efes Beverage Group is the country’s largest beer producer, with an 86% market share. Efes Pilsen, named after the ancient city of Ephesus near the Izmir brewery, is the most popular beer in the Efes range.
Others include Efes Dark, Efes Light, Efes Extra, coffee-flavoured Efes Dark Brown, Bomonti and Marmara.
Under the Gusta label they also brew wheat-based beers, heffe weiss and heffe weiss dunkel.
The Efes Beverage Group was founded in Turkey in 1969. Today it comprises 14 beer-production factories and 6 malt factories in countries including Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Georgia and Serbia.
Efes’ beer production capacity is 35.7-million hectolitres.
Our second beer of choice was a more bitter Tuborg, produced by the Danish Carlsberg-Tuborg group, a brew also ranked highly by locals.
Another major Turkish brand, Tekel Birasi, comes from the oldest beer producer in the country, founded in 1890. Today it is privately owned by Mey.
Interestingly, Diabrau is a Turkish beer produced exclusively for the Dia supermarket chain.