Tuesday July 23rd, 2024
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GCC’s First Brewery is Serving Karak & Date-Flavoured Craft Beer

Gastro-pub ‘Craft by Side Hustle’ serves up Louisiana-style dishes alongside its homemade concoctions in Abu Dhabi.

Scene Now UAE

GCC’s First Brewery is Serving Karak & Date-Flavoured Craft Beer

The first alcoholic drinks brewery in the GCC - located in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi - is concocting brews inspired by ingredients from local souqs. In the basement of the Rosewood Hotel on Al Maryah Island, ‘Craft by Side Hustle’ is the first location in the city to take advantage of relaxed laws allowing venues to brew alcoholic beverages for consumption strictly within the premises. Alcohol laws in the UAE are governed by individual Emirates - unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi’s residents are not required to hold a licence to consume alcohol, though they must be over 21 and non-Muslim.

Following the soft launch of the location in early 2023, the gastro-pub is now fully open for business, offering live entertainment and Louisiana-style dishes - such as jambalaya, shrimp, and grits - alongside its homemade brews. Side Hustle’s brewers craft between eight and 14 beers at a time, from simple, traditional styles such as lager, pilsner, and stout, all the way to wild concoctions inspired by local favourites, such as dates, coffee, honey and Karak tea, infused with spices like saffron and cardamom. At current capacity, Craft’s taprooms can produce around 25,000 pints a month, with each one sold for around AED 45 (USD 12.25). As well as craft beers, Side Hustle also distils gin, whiskey, and produces hard, alcoholic seltzers.

Though the casual dining-cum-pub has cemented its place as the first local alcohol manufacturer in the city, country, and entire region, it’s unlikely to be the last, as alcohol laws have been incrementally relaxed by governments in past years. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are still the exceptions, with the latter’s neighbour Sharjah still operating an outright ban on alcohol. So too does Kuwait, with Oman and Qatar restricting its sale heavily. The same applies to Saudi Arabia, although a duty-free alcohol store recently opened in the Kingdom for non-Muslim diplomats.