The pun was too obvious to resist for long - Ir HaBira has a very simple double meaning - both "Capital City" and "City of Beer". The last two nights have seen Jerusalem's old train station compound, turned into a celebration of one of my favourite drinks with a wonderful atmosphere thrown in for good measure.
The area of the old train centre, situated at the beginning of Derech Hebron has long been neglected. This summer it has been transformed into a venue for outdoor events with a large ampitheatre for concerts and movies under the sun, and plenty of space to do pretty much anything else. As opposed to similar previous festivals of various type held on Emek Refaim and in the city centre, the location is easy to secure, a decent size and doesn't cause much inconvenience to the neighbours due to its isolation. It's also right next door to Emek Refaim which means easy access from one of Jerusalem's main after hours spots - something which wasn't true of the wine festival held at the Israel Museum which isn't really accessible on foot from most parts of the city.
A sound stage with live music seemed to be busy most of the evening and the usual suspects provided a mix of burgers, hot dogs, sushi and melawach but the main feature of the evening was cheap beer. A number of bars offered a wide variety of tipples which are not generally available on tap in Jerusalem (or most places that I've propped up a bar for that matter). I couldn't help feeling that those poor souls queuing up for Carlsberg had somewhat missed the point.
After being pleasantly surprised by a pint of Sam Adams (an American beer that you can taste), we found ourselves at a bar with a wide range of Belgian and other beers that I hadn't tried before. The Belgian beer industry is largely based around monasteries where monks, with very little else to amuse themselves have experimented with various concoctions over the last several centuries; the results are interesting. Barbar, made with honey which I've sampled at Joy on a number of occasions was a favourite with my wife; I particularly enjoyed the Newton Ale, with it's apple flavour and the Kriek cherry beer which tastes like a fruit soda more than beer. I teased by tastebuds with a couple more of less impressive beers before being reminded that I really can't knock it back like I used to - a realisation that has compounded itself by throbbing in my head most of the day.
It seemed as though half of Anglo Jerusalem was out to enjoy themselves as we stood on the spot bumping into friends as they went by - great to have an evening out when you can just chill and have a good laugh - burgers, beer and friends - what could possibly be wrong?!