While the food of Turkey is nothing short of excellent, the beer always left something to be desired.
The watery pilsner widely available seemed better suited for a red solo cup, (the best receptaclefor tailgates, fairs and festivals) rather than the glass bottle. This is not to say they aren’t popular, because even in a country where the dominant religion forbids alcohol consumption, empty bottles and cans are common sights on the streets. These empty bottles crowded around park benches and parking lot barricades tend to be Efes. Is that a sign? We’ll see.
The challenger today? Fellow Turkish brew Bomonti.
Cost: The Efes can be found anywhere from 3TL to 3.50TL, or around $1.55-1.75 per 50cl bottle. The Bomonti is slightly more, around 3.5-3.80TL, or around $1.75-2.00 per bottle.
Note: These prices are from 2012.
Bottle: The Efes bottle is short and squat, which for me is okay, but for my small-handed friends, can be a bit of a hassle. Plus, the cap is not a screw-top, unlike the Bomonti. I’ve personally resorted to using the edges of dumpsters, iron gates, railings and other beer bottles to open a bottle of Efes. The Bomonti? Just a simple twist of the cap.
Color: Don’t expect anything rich or dark. Predictably, both are a fairly light golden color. Nothing too out of the ordinary.
Efes: Slightly hoppy, mostly grainy, but very thin and watery. Not quite Miller High Life-level of carbonation, but still very fizzy. Even in the bottle, the beer had a bit of a harsh, unpleasant metallic aftertaste.
Bomonti: A bit deeper flavor than the Efes, which I liked. Though the alcohol percentage is slightly lower, there was a bit more mouthfeel, which may be because this beer is a fair deal sweeter than the Efes. Less carbonated. A bit maltier.
Not shockingly, both Efes and Bomonti were mediocre and suffering from similar problems. Why so similar? Because even though they are different labels, both are brewed at the Efes brewery (along with nearly all other beer in Turkey). Even many of the imports are actually just licensed to be brewed in Turkey at–-guess where–-the Efes brewery. Essentially, this was a battle between the lesser of two evils.
Supposedly, Efes used to be much better before a formula change added glucose syrup and rice into the mix. Cheap fillers designed to increase profits. Which is a shame, because Turkey really deserves at least one beer to be okay. Both are decidedly average, but Bomonti squeaks out a victory with a slightly malty flavor, and a less offensive after-taste. Plus, who wants to open a beer bottle on the edge of a street sign?