Even though rakı is the popular choice of drink in Istanbul, there are more than enough pubs and bars catering to beer enthusiasts. See our list of the best and most popular.
Kozmonot is a cosmic-themed bar in the Topağacı neighborhood of Nişantaşı. In addition to an extensive and creative cocktail list, and bar snacks, there are a number of different American and German beers on offer that you wouldn't normally find. The space-themed space attracts a young, hip crowd, who enjoy the eclectic music and outdoor seating areas late into the night. Prof. Dr. Müfide Küley Sok, No:1, Topağacı, Şişli: (0212) 234 73 55
On the Asian side of the city, this local favorite stocks a wide range of international beers on tap or bottled to locals who crowd both the wood-paneled interior and the tables outside. They also have a number of brands of whisky and a well-prepared range of cocktails. Basically, it’s a trusted bar with something for everyone. Moda Cad, No:60, Moda, Kadıköy: (0216) 418 44 76
Bosphorus Brewing Company
An expat favorite, the English family who owns and runs this cozy microbrewery and pub make their own beers with ingredients imported from England. BBC options include İçmedik, a light ale; Istanbul Pale Ale, their on-target IPA; Brew 81, a light lager; Haliç Gold, a Belgian-styled ale comparable to Blue Moon; and the ever popular Karbon Imperial Stout. Also make sure to try their food menu of British pub classics and Turkish favorites. Emekli Subay Evleri, Yıldız Posta Cad, No:1/1A, Gayrettepe, Şişli. (0212) 288 64 99
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 Cad, No:11, Moda, Kadıköy.
The North Shield Pub
With numerous locations, the North Shield Pub is an obvious favorite among tourists (specifically the Sultanahmet branch) and expats. Here, you’ll find a variety of imported craft beer (beer brewed by small independent breweries) such as Brooklyn Lager, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, Schneider Weisse Unser Aventinus, and much more. Yerebatan Cad, No:13, Sultanahmet, Fatih: (0212) 444 93 32
Taps is Turkey’s first brewpub and one of the first brands to produce craft beer. This makes it especially attractive for tourists and expats who are big fans of microbreweries. 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 lagers, ales, wheat beers, stouts, darks, and more. Cevdet Paşa Cad, No:119, Bebek: (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 Cad, No:12, Nişantaşı, Şişli: (0212) 296 75 26
U2 Istanbul Irish Pub
U2 is a particularly small pub that is often raved about for its cozy atmosphere by its patrons who love going there to drink Guinness, but there are over 50 beer varieties here including Brooklyn Brown Ale, Amstel, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, Schneider Weisse Original, and Becks. There is also an Irish band that plays every night. İstiklal Cad, Bekar Sok, No:21, Beyoğlu: (0212) 243 40 45
Not necessarily a pub per se, but a favorite spot for beer, BiBuçuk is famed for its chicken wings. Here, you’ll find a varied beer list that includes Efes and Bomonti on tap, 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 Sok, No:14-18, Beyoğlu: (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, Becks, Bomonti, Heineken, Miller, Germania, Corona, Taps Kölsch, Taps Red Ale, Efes Dark, and Efes Brown bottled. You won’t hear any Turkish songs but you can listen to some of the best of the 80s and 90s and sometimes Irish picks. Caferağa Mah, Dr. Esat Işık Cad, No 28/1, Kadıköy: (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 Cad, Balo Sok, No:26, Beyoğlu: (0212) 244 79 73
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 from a keg into a glass.
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 lagers.
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.