There is a saying "If you come to Morocco, prepare to be amazed". Well, you can live here and still be amazed. A beer festival? In Morocco? It seems like a joke, but major media outlets are running wth the story, so, hey, it must be true
For an entire month, Moroccan beer lovers can take part in Morocco's first Beer Festival. It will be held from October 8 to November 8 in Casablanca.
The festival has been organised by the local breweries and events will be shared through several bars with the added enticement of raffles and what the organisers are calling "other surprises".
The festival is an echo of the German Oktoberfest held in Munich every year. The German original hosts nearly six million visitors each year who drink 30% of the annual production of major breweries in the region. The Moroccan festival will certainly hope to emulate its German counterpart.
Alcohol plays a strange part in Moroccan society. The official line is that it is forbidden as a Muslim to drink. Yet, a majority of the (very fine) wine produced in Morocco is consumed by locals. The growing middle class have taken to drinking wine with evening meals and almost all the larger riads providing accomodation have wine and beer on offer.
Beer production in Morocco was introduced by the French in the 20th century. Société des Brasseries du Maroc is part of the Castel Group and oversees the production and distribution of beer. Popular beers include Spéciale Flag (pilsner) and Stork (light lager). The Moroccan premium beer is Casablanca (also a lager), which costs more than the other two. Casablanca is also exported and, for instance, served in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot in Disney World, Orlando, FL.
The breweries of Brasseries du Maroc are located in Fes, Tangier, and Casablanca, also a bottling unit exists in Marrakech. The best selling international beer in Morocco is Heineken, which is locally brewed by Brasseries du Maroc under the supervision of Heineken International.
Wine production has benefited from French expertise and investment and produces more than 400,000 hectolitres of Bordeaux style wine each year. Morocco has become the second biggest producer of wine in the Arab world, after Algeria. The industry employs more than 20,000 people. Most of the wine is consumed within the country, but better wines are exported as well, primarily to France.
The other, lesser known alcohol in Morocco is traditionally distilled by the Amazigh (Berber) families in the Atlas Mountains.
Mahia, is distilled from figs and when well produced is a slightly fiery and strong spirit.
Moroccan law does not prohibit the production of beer and alcohol, but only their sale to Muslim customers. Wine can be purchased in supermarkets and some restaurants, often those that cater to tourists and visitors.
Alcohol is not generally available during Islamic festivals including Ramadan, except in some outlets aimed primarily at non-Muslims.