Article by Jonathan Gharbi de Mare, reposted from https://abudhabibeer.com/2023/02/09/craft-beer-in-armenia/.
I visited Armenia in early October 2022 with perfect weather and amazing experiences. Both wine and craft beer is on the rise and its also a coffee loving nation so there little bit of everything for everyone ! But lets go through all the interesting beer places worth a visit. If you are interested in wine, just wait a week for the upcoming wine guide !
Armenia is a beautiful mountanious country with long warm summers and cold winters. It’s one of the older wine growing regions but it’s during the last ten years most things happened. With foreign help the wineries got help and developed much. The wine guide is coming in the next post. People drank vodka and brandy during the Soviet times but has now changed to beer and wine. Armenia is mostly famous for the wines while the beer still is the smaller glass. Many of todays brewers are educated in making wine but learned how to brew beer later. The beer history is shorter and the craft wave started a few years ago with Dargett as the leading brewery.
Craft beer in Yerevan
People often refer to the development of craft beer as a wave, the craft beer wave. But in Armenia it’s more of a calm river. It’s moving forward at a steady pace. It’s not very wild, ipa and sour beers are still something new to many. Some brewers made sours and experimental beers but returned to more basic styles since the demand was low. The pioneers are Dargett craft beer, who are the first and the leading craft beer brand. Their brew pub is in central Yerevan.
Dargett Craft Beer
The name and the logo comes from the old Babylonian kingdom when Babylonia reached the sea but they had no words for it and called it the river that tastes bitter. Dar means river and get means bitter. The logo illustrates the former babylonian kingdom. Dargett is not a small brewpub, they have also a big brewery with 4000 liter fermenters outside Yerevan and export to other countries. The brewery under the pub has a smaller capacity but is constantly in use. The brewers are former wine makers but learned to make beer and they does it really good. They brew everything from light ipas to their Armenian Imperial Stout aged on brandy barrels. Brandy is also something very particular for Armenia. They have brewed 30 different beers so far.
Dargett does also make collaboration beers with Belgian and Italian brewers. To have two brew houses requires a solid economy and they have it, which is the base for future development. Many breweries in developing beer countries are struggling to scale up to the level with 1000-2000 liter brew houses which makes it possible to brew around 300 000 liters per year, depending on the fermenter size. Big fermenters are expensive, Dargett has 7000 liters which are costly but with temperature control and surface needed for it, we are talking about a coouple of million dollars for that size. While a 50 liter brew house and a few 100 liter fermenters can be bought for less than 15 000 dollars.
Well at Dargett craft beer pub, it’s time to taste and talk to the brewers. Unfortunately they speak very little English but many in the staff are bilingual or trilingual and always helpful. It’s really a nice place to visit, 21 taps with their own beer, nice food and ambiance!
Dargett has plans to develop the beer line since the market is beginning to change. The special beers are sometimes just served on bottle or just a few hundred liters. But since they also export on bottle it’s helping them to develop their styles.
Dargett has the best potential in Armenia and a strong company behind so they will continue to develop. A beer is around 4 dollar so relax and enjoy ! Their apricot ale is delicious and made with local fruit.
Torch & Brew
This is where House of the Dragon, the sequel to Game of Thrones , is shown together with three kinds of beer. They have three beers only but the wheat ale is amazing ! The master brewer worked before for Dargett which explains why the beers are so good. Torch and Brew opened recently (early 2022) and have plans to introduce more beers so keep an eye on them. As for now they have a weizen, lager and an ale. They have plans to export and open up a big brewery so let’s see.
Dors craft beer and kicthen
The second craft beer bar after Dargett craft beer is Dors craft beer and kitchen. They have seven craft beers and a cider. The beers are not that wild but true to their style. Dors tried to serve a sour once but the customers didn’t like it too much. The beer scene is not ready for lots of sours, imperial porters, ipas and tripple dry hopped beers. Some ask for it but it is still not enough demand. You need to take a minibus to Tbilisi in Georgia to sample beers like that but hopefully the beer scene in Armenia will reach that point in one to two years. Dors is a beer destination but is more small scale. They have made nine beers so far with their ipa and apa as the most popular.
They have their own brewery and six beers are brewed but the styles are milder than at Dors. So they are making gateway beers, suitable for the ones who prefers something between craft beer and lager. But it might change soon since more beers are planned. They have two excellent restaurants with good food, service and nice design. Just worth a visit to see the interior design.
The club upstairs opens later and is perfect when you are tired of beer and need a fancy drink.
Armenia is small and just one hour from Yerevan you can experience beautiful nature and pitoresque villages. People love their beer and it’s even possible to buy growlers, reusable plastic bottles you can bring home.
If you need some fresh cold air and love mountains and small villages, take a bus to Dilijan, about one hour from Yerevan. You can also reach it by taxi for a good price when using the local taxi app. It’s called the Switzerland of Armenia and since it’s high up in the mountains , the temeperature drops a few degrees when reaching there. It’s a small town perfect for a day trip. Cute bakeries, small restaurants and of course perfectly roasted coffe can be consumed in the fresh air.
Coffee is not grown in Armenia but they import raw beans and most cafees have their own roasting machine so the coffee is always tasty. The picture above is from Yerevans Wine street where people gather to either drink wine or coffee. Beans are collected from all over the world and the roasting is so good that Armenia is exporting roasted beans to the region.
It’s a small country with few flights so it can get cheaper to fly with wizz air from Abu Dhabi to Yerevan. You can also fly to Georgia. Read the beer guide to Georgia here. Since it’s just six hours with a minibus between, many visitors arrive from Tbilisi. The roads are curvy and jumpy so if you get car sick easily, forget the minibus.
The French connection is strong, visit the fountain at Charles Aznavour square above. Armenia is well worth a visit and since it’s small you can experience much of the country in a short while.
Armenia is small, people are welcoming and correct, prices are low and nature beautiful. Wine, coffee and craft beer are blooming. Just go there ! Since there are few tourists it still feels very genuin and tourist traps are very few.