September 14, 2017 - 11:53 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenia might be both one of the oldest and one of the youngest nations in the history of beer making, The Smithsonian said in an article, which goes back to that time when Xenophon sipped on a strange barley concoction in the Armenian highlands over two thousand years ago.
According to the feature, one of the first known written mentions of beer in the 4th century BCE comes from the travel diary of the ancient Greek mercenary, Xenophon, as he wandered across Armenia.
"Certainly, much has transpired since Xenophon sipped on that strange barley concoction in the Armenian highlands over two thousand years ago, but unfortunately for beer, the well-documented history of wine in the region usually takes center-stage," the article says.
"In the late-19th century, when we start to see the first mentions of beer factories in Armenia, beer was emerging as a lucrative industry in the Russian Empire. Factories were opened in Alexandrapol (now Gyumri) and Kars. While the latter is no longer part of modern-day Armenia, the beer factory in Gyumri still exists and though it operates out of a newer building, the historic factory from 1898 has been preserved and curious, beer history buffs visiting the area can take tours."
The Smithsonian cites the Zanga Brewery as the most famous one in Yerevan, which was located in the picturesque Hrazdan River Gorge. Founded in 1892 by Harutyun Avedyants, the son of a successful factory owner, Zanga produced only one style of beer, a traditional German Bock. For a while, business was good and the brand achieved some international success, both across the Russian Empire and in Europe (even winning some awards in Naples and Milan).
In 1917, Lenin’s communists seized power and all major factories were nationalized. When Armenia became an S.S.R., Avedyants, like many other successful entrepreneurs, lost his business. Without the specialized expertise required for beer production, however, the business began to go under. So, on March 1st, 1924, in a sobering twist of fate, Avedyants was hired as an employee of the very factory he had founded over thirty years earlier. After his death in 1926, the factory closed and there would not be beer production in Armenia again until after World War II.
The article then goes on to detail the path that the Armenian beer-making tradition passed throughout the decades to become a kind-of cultural movement with the launch of one of Armenia’s first craft brewpubs, Beer Academy, and another one, Dargett, which has embarked on countless firsts since it opened: the first IPA made on Armenian soil, the first cider made from Armenian apples, the first fruit beer in Armenia (a lovely ale infused with Armenia’s most abundant and symbolic fruit: apricot).