The beer revolution

Asmus Rotne, who studied in Tbilisi the year before I did, today posted on Facebook that he had “just heard that the Georgian patriarch declared that toasting with beer is ok and carries the same significance as toasting with wine! It is a revolution!”

It is a revolution indeed, although you probably need to be familiar with Georgian culture to realise it.

In Georgia, socially acceptable drinking mainly happens at the keipi (?????), a highly codified dinner party.

It is normally for men only, with the women cooking and serving and drinking fruit schapps in the kitchen. Each man will choose at the beginning whether they’re drinking wine (?????), brandy (???????) or vodka (????), although often wine is the only thing on offer. The tamada (??????) (“toast master”) will at regular intervals make toasts, empty his glass, and all the men will in turn make a speech on the same topic and empty their glasses, after which the glasses will be refilled.

Beer (????), on the other hand, has till now not been acceptable in that context. Many people like to drink beer with their xink’ali (???????), some sort of huge ravioli, which is probably the only dish than men cook, but apart from that, beer is drunk without food, and because toasting is a ritual, it has been impossible to offer toasts in beer.

So the patriarch’s decision will lead to huge social change.

4 thoughts on “The beer revolution”

  1. How is this distinctly secular ritual anything to do with the patriarch? Is it just a symbol of his influence throughout society? That would be the notable thing about this story from the outsider’s point of view.

  2. Drinking is loosely connected to religion in Georgia. Some of the toasts during a keipi are of a religious nature, and many keipis during religious festivals.
    But it’s not like the patriarch is the tamada-in-chief, of course.
    I guess it’s just that Georgians have tended to frown upon beer toasting as some sort of evil foreign influence, but the patriarch has the moral strength to tell them it’s OK.
    But funnily it didn’t even occur to me that this point would seem strange to an outsider. 🙂

  3. “In Georgia, socially acceptable drinking mainly happens at the keipi (ქეიფი), a highly codified dinner party.”
    Is it only fish they eat then ?
    White wine would surely be the order of the day for toasting 🙂
    Beer just doesn’t go with Cod .,., unless of course it’s deep fried with chips !!

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