How a Brooklyn Brewmaster Makes Beer to Connect With Her Iranian Heritage

Brooklyn brewmaster Zahra Tabatabai wants to bring beer back to its roots. “I brew beer that is inspired and influenced by the flavors of the Middle East,” says Tabatabai, who notes that alcohol has thousands of years of rich history in that region.

“One of the earliest chemical evidence of barley beer making is tied to the Zagros mountains of Iran,” she says. “I think that there’s a big misconception now because of the regime that is in place, and because alcohol is outlawed in many countries within that region.”

Tabatabai connects her beers to the Middle East by sourcing ingredients from her family’s home country of Iran and the surrounding region. She sources the blue salt that she puts in her Sumac Gose beer from Iran, from a region called Semnan. “It’s mined in limited quantities in Semnan every year,” says Tabatabai. “The mineral sylvinite is what makes it blue.”

Tabatabai says that many people in that area of the world will put a pinch of salt in their beer before they drink it to cut out the bitterness, which inspired her to add salt to the brewing process.

Watch the full video to see the other ways Tabatabai draws from her Iranian heritage for the beer that she brews in New York City.

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