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.