georgian cuisine logo white

Have Any Questions?

(718) 333-5363

Uncovering Georgias Ancient Brewing Traditions

Uncovering Georgias Ancient Brewing Traditions

Georgia has a rich history of brewing traditional alcoholic beverages dating back thousands of years. From ancient wines to unique local beers, Georgians have crafted distinctive drinks using local ingredients and methods passed down through generations.

The Origin of Georgian Winemaking

Wine production in Georgia can be traced back over 8,000 years, making it one of the oldest winemaking regions in the world.

Archaeological evidence shows that grapes have been cultivated in Georgia since at least 6000 BC. The fertile soil and climate conditions are ideal for growing a wide variety of grape varieties.

Ancient Georgians stored wine underground in large earthenware vessels called qvevri. The qvevri allowed the wine to ferment and age without air contact. This traditional winemaking method is still used today and has been inscribed on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Some key facts about ancient Georgian winemaking:

  • Earliest evidence of wine found near Tbilisi dates back to 6000-5800 BC.
  • More than 500 indigenous grape varieties are native to Georgia.
  • Qvevri winemaking was traditionally a family affair with wines crafted for household use.
  • Wines were buried to age and would develop a unique amber color and flavor.

Traditional Georgian Beer & Other Alcoholic Beverages

Along with winemaking, beer brewing also has ancient roots in Georgia. Traditional Georgian beer is called lageri or chapi.

The main ingredients in chapi are barley malt, hops, corn, and wheat. It often contains spices like coriander and bay leaf and has a hazy, pale golden color. Chapi is lightly hopped and has a malty, slightly spiced flavor.

Other traditional alcoholic drinks include:

  • Araqi - A clear spirit distilled from grape pomace.
  • Chacha - A strong grappa-like spirit distilled from grape pomace.
  • Tarhun - A soft drink flavored with tarragon that can be made alcoholic.

Fruit spirits like cornelian cherry and pear brandy are also popular regional drinks. Homebrewing and distilling are ingrained in Georgian culture.

Traditional Brewing Methods

Georgians brew their traditional alcohols using local ingredients and methods perfected over generations.

For chapi, the barley malt is first mixed with hot water and allowed to steep to extract the sugars. This makes a malt wort that is then boiled with hops. After cooling, yeast is added to ferment the beer.

Winemaking uses indigenous Georgian grape varieties cultivated on family-owned vineyards. The grapes are pressed and the juice is transferred to qvevri buried in the ground. After fermenting for several weeks, the wines are removed from the skins and allowed to mature.

Distilling of araqi and chacha involves a traditional copper still called a kazani. The fermented pomace is heated in the still, and the vapor is cooled and collected to produce the high-alcohol spirit.

The Revival of Traditional Brews

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in Georgia's ancient brewing heritage. Craft breweries are resurrecting traditional recipes using artisanal techniques.

Some examples include:

  • Natakhtari Brewery - Produces lageri chapi along with other beer styles. They use fresh local ingredients and natural spring water.

  • Pheasant's Tears - Small brewery in Sighnaghi making beer with wild yeast cultures and aged in qvevris.

  • Georgia Beer Company - Craft brewery in Tbilisi brewing American and European-style beers. They also make traditional Georgian kvass.

Thanks to this revival, new interpretations of Georgia's ancient brews are available. A new generation is discovering the deep history and traditions of Georgian brewing.

Looking to the Future

Georgia's winemaking heritage has endured for millennia and is poised to continue flourishing. The return of artisanal brewing and distilling will help recover lost local knowledge.

I'm excited to see Georgia reclaim its status as a world-leading alcohol producer. By pairing ancient wisdom with modern quality, Georgia's brewing traditions will be preserved for future generations. The possibilities are overflowing - it raises a glass to the future!

Tags :
Brewing Techniques
Share This :


8309 3rd Ave, Brooklyn , New York


(718) 333-5363

Opening Hours

Everyday 09:00 AM - 23:00 PM

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved.