The Middle East, to put it lightly, is not known for its drinking culture. In Saudi Arabia, any consumption of alcohol is punishable by flogging. Public drunkenness in Dubai could land you with a lengthy prison sentence. Fortunately, the Kingdom of Jordan takes a rather more liberal approach.
It’s a good thing too: Jordan is hot. Very hot. For the short while I was there, the temperature in the mid-afternoon ranged from around 32 to 40 degrees Celsius (90 to 104 Fahrenheit). In these conditions, cold beer is a necessity. Fortunately, Jordan has a few such drinks to offer.
Originally a Dutch beer, Amstel opened its first brewery outside the Netherlands in Jordan back in the 50s. Unsurprisingly, it tastes pretty much exactly the same as the Amstel you can buy in Amsterdam or here in the UK. This isn’t a bad thing: Amstel is certainly one of the better draft lagers available, and if you’re in need of a cold, refreshing pint, it’s certainly not a poor choice.
If nothing else, you should probably stop to drink a can of Petra beer after visiting the Rose City. It’s a long walk between the sheer cliffs to The Treasury, and then a long, hard slog uphill to see The Monastery, most likely through blistering heat. There’s no drinking in the city itself, but it’s not far from the site entrance to The Cave Bar just outside, where you can refresh yourself at last.
Petra comes in a few different strengths: 5%, 8%, 10%, and a pretty staggering 13% alcohol by volume. They’re all very similar, except the amount of wobbling they cause on your walk home – which unfortunately means there’s not a whole lot to write about. I had a couple of cans before deciding to stop because I love myself too much to drink bad beer.
Now here is a great beer. Carakale hails from Jordan’s first microbrewery, and is the only ale I managed to find while I was out there. It’s brewed by Yazan Karadsheh, a native Jordanian who studied in Colorado and picked up a love of beer from the state with over 150 breweries.
There’s a range of varieties available, but my particular favourite was the Blonde Ale. It’s unbelievably refreshing, with the perfect balance of orangey flavoured hops and biscuitty malt. Apparently Carakale is planning to start exporting to the UK and USA shortly: I’ll certainly be looking out for this one on the off-licence shelves.