Even though rakı is the popular choice of drink in Istanbul, a few notable pubs and bars have opened their doors to beer enthusiasts. See our list of the best and most popular.
The North Shield Pub
With numerous locations, North Shield Pub is an obvious favorite among tourists (specifically the Sultanahmet branch) and expats (especially the Asmalımescit branch). Here, you’ll find a variety of imported craft beer (beer brewed by small independant breweries) such as Brooklyn Lager, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, Schneider Weisse Unser Aventinus, and much more. Palazzo Donizetti Hotel Entrance, Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi Meşrutiyet Caddesi No.55, Asmalımescit; P: (0212) 243 15 23.
Taps is Turkey’s first brewpub and one of the fırst brands to produce craft beer. This makes it especially attractive for tourists and expats who are big fans of microbrewery. The pub’s location is also a huge plus. Where else in the world can you sip craft beer while looking at the fantastic view of the Bosphorus? There are approximately 20 kinds of beer on the menu, with a range of Lager, Ale, Wheat beer, Stout, Dark, and more. Cevdet Paşa Caddesi No. 119, Bebek; P: (0212) 263 87 00
Taps' sister location in the Nişantaşı neighborhood, TapRoom offers fine craft beer tastes that come either bottled or on tap. Options include bottled Kölsch, Red Ale, and Smoked Lager or Pilsner, Smoked Lager, and Marzen on tap. Enjoy a tall glass or order a sampler for a little bit of everything and make sure to drop by Saturday nights when the bar is at its liveliest. Milli Reasürans Çarşısı Maçka Caddesi No.12, Nişantaşı; P: (0212) 296 75 26
Located on the Asian side in the Moda neighborhood, Zeplin Pub is a cozy bar with an authentic dark wood interior as well as the necessary beers on tap. Bottled are such brands as Leffe, Hoegaarden, Kasteel, Petrus and much more. Make sure to get there early on the weekends because the bar gets very crowded. Moda Caddesi No.11, Moda
For the beer-illiterate, here a few terms that will make your life easier and make you sound all the wiser at the pub:
On draft/tap/draught: Simply means beer that is poured into a glass from a keg.
Ale: Rich, flavorful, complex. A type of beer often described as fruity and hearty, made from top-fermenting yeast. Varieties include brown, pale, mild. Leffe is a popular example.
Lager: Crisp, clean, refreshing. This is the most widely-available beer made of bottom-fermenting yeast. Corona, Heineken, Efes, Budweiser, Carlsberg are all Lager.
Wheat Beer: Light-colored, top-fermenting beer. Schneider Weisse, Hoegaadren, and Gusto are examples.
Stout: A type of dark beer made with roasted malt or barley. They are easy to spot because their color is quite dark. They have strong flavors. A very popular example is Guinness.
U2 Istanbul Irish Pub
A particularly small pub that is often raved about for its cozy atmosphere by its frequenters who love going there to drink Guinness. There are over 50 beer varieties here including Brooklyn Brown Ale, Amstel, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, Schneider Weisse Original, and Beck’s. There is also an Irish band that plays every night. İstiklal Caddesi, Bekar Sokak No: 21, Beyoğlu; P: (0212) 243 40 45
Not necessarily a pub per se, but a favorite spot for drinking beer, BiBuçuk is famed for its chicken wings. Here, you’ll find a varied beer list that includes Efes and Bomonti on draft, as well as Corona, Budweiser, Heineken, and Schlenkerla. The restaurant also has a branch on the Asian side that is just as popular with locals. Süslü Saksı Sokak No. 14-18, Beyoğlu; P: (0212) 244 70 10
A typical Irish pub located on the Asian side, Belfast is a great spot for, well, drinking beer. They have Carlsberg, Guinness, and Tuborg on draft as well as Leffe Brown, Leffe Blonde, Amstel, Beck’s, Bomonti, Heineken, Miller, Germania, Corona, Taps Kölsch, Taps Red Ale, Efes Dark, and Efes Brown bottled. You won’t hear any Turkish songs but the best of the 80s and 90s and sometimes Irish picks. Caferağa Mahallesi, Dr. Esat Işık Caddesi, No 28/1, Kadıköy; P: (0216) 418 97 06
James Joyce Irish Pub
A pub that receives mixed reviews but is nonetheless flocked to by expats for a beer or two, especially when celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Here, you’ll find hard-to-find beers like Hoegaadren (orange-flavored wheat beer on draft), Leffe Brown (bottle) and Leffe Blonde (bottle), Guinness (draft), Tuborg, and Carlsberg. They also have cider. İstiklal Caddesi Balo Sok. No:26, Beyoğlu; P: (0212) 244 79 73
Updated on March 13, 2013