Back Home Beer, a brewery in planning based in Brooklyn, NY, is a first-generation Iranian Woman-owned brewery, with sights on brewing beer inspired and influenced by her Middle Eastern/Persian roots. I sat down with Zahra Tabatabai, founder of the upcoming brewery, to learn more about her background, plans for the brewery and what it truly means to be an Iranian female brewing freely in the US.
Zahra comes from the world of television-programming. She was a writer at Fox News and before that, ESPN. (Yes, working for Fox News is as heinous as it sounds). When she abruptly left Fox News, she entered the world of Motherhood and lived that life until her son was off to Kindergarten.
In the time of Zahra’s Mommy Years, she was able to spend a lot more time with her family. While frequently visiting her folks in Atlanta, Zahra’s Grandmother mentioned that she missed her husband’s, Zahra’s Grandfather’s, homebrew. He was an active homebrewer in the 60’s and 70’s in Iran, before the Revolution.
That got the gears turning for Zahra.
She had some spare time, so she picked up a few books and watched some Youtube videos and before she knew it, she was on her way to brewing her Grandfather’s beer, who passed away when Zahra was very young. Luckily he left behind many notes and recipes. What an awesome thing, to have a connection with family lineage, not to mention, ancestry.
That’s right, folks. Believe it or not, the origins of brewing beer date all the way back to the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia, who lived on the land we now refer to as the Middle East. Digging even further into the history, the earliest chemical evidence of beer found was between 3500-3100 BC from the Godin Tepe site in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran.
“This is where beer was born and yet, we have no representation in the market. And there’s really nothing to go with the food or represent the region. That’s where the idea [the brewery] came from, even though a lot of it is banned in the region, there are a lot of people who have emigrated from the region to the states and other parts of the world who enjoy drinking beer and wine, so that’s how it progressed into a business idea, putting out something that had large inspiration from the Middle East and Iran.”
Sadly, when the Iranian Revolution of 1979 took place, a once thriving region for beer, wine and alcohol, was burnt to the ground and the production, distribution and/or possession of alcohol of any kind was strictly forbidden. Under Islamic law, repeat offenders could be and have been put to death. It is still this way, even today.
There is a really beautiful underground scene for brewing beer in Iran. Members of the scene have reached out to Zahra, with feelings of support and voice.
It’s mind-blowing to think that the locals in Iran who host a bottle share could be imprisoned or worse. (Something to keep in mind the next time you gather with your pals to share a few.)
Zahra’s proudest moment thus far has been the response back from fellow Americans and people reaching out from Iran. “Something so private, kept within the family… people saying kind things and reaching out from Iran saying, ‘We can’t do this, but we are so happy that you can.'” Zahra claims not to be a risk taker by any means, but she is so happy that she took the risk and grateful for having a far reach to people in her home country. Not to mention, she gets to share her Grandfather’s brewing legacy.
Back Home Beer is still in the planning stages, but in a few weeks, we’ll be back with more exciting information about this Iranian Woman-owned brewery. Stay tuned!
Featured Image, Back Home Beer’s Logo, designed after the Azadi Tower of Iran, is courtesy and property of Back Home Beer.