2017 Beer Travel Series: Greece
Shortly after settling back at home and brewing our first batch of "Lupo", Pale Ale, it was time to pack our bags and head back to Europe. This has been a trip that we've been looking forward to...We were heading to Greece, Italy and Germany. There were two ways in which we could have gone in regards to planning out this trip. I could have really done my studying and planned a beer journey through through these countries, however I wanted my beer experience to come naturally on this trip. I wanted to experience the culture and see what beers fell to me.
We explored Greece first. Our first AirBnB was nestled in the old Venetian Port city of Chania, on Crete. The landscapes were beautiful, the food was amazing and the old city was beyond charming.
Beer was not produced in Ancient Greece so I honestly wasn't expecting any ancient old beers that I can add to my list, however I did enjoy many cans of Fix and Mythos.
Fix is a brand of Greek lager beer. The FIX brewery was founded in 1864 by the Fuchs family in Athens, Greece (which had come to Greece from Bavaria. This became the first major brewery in Greece. FIX (or FIX HELLAS) became synonymous with beer in Greece, enjoying a virtual monopoly in the country for about 100 years until the mid-1960s, operating a number of factories that also produced soft drinks.
Mythos Brewery is the second largest Greek brewery, best known for its Mythos brand. The company, a subsidiary of Carlsberg, also imports a number of non-Greek beers into the country.
These two beers reminded me of the beer landscape in Portugal with Sagres and Super Bock being the two main breweries. These beers, much like Sagres and Super Bock, were light and easy drinking, nothing special, but absolutely crushable and highly enjoyable.
After a few days on Crete we got onboard a ferry heading to Santorini. We were there for the breathtaking views and man they were something to see...However, I was pleasantly surprised by the beer that presented itself while in Santorini.
We did our rounds, getting acquainted with our new surroundings and found the nearest market. I headed straight for the fridge that seemed to be stocked with beer. Amongst the usual Mythos and Fix brews were a few bottles of beer from Volkan. The beer that Volkan produces is pretty interesting given the rich history behind the island. Since water is scarce these days they have created a special filter, developed exclusively for Volkan, which they run their brew water through. This special filter is made with basalt from the eruption of 1600 BC. The end goal for this filter was to create water that simulates the ancient Santorini spring water which was used some 3,000 years ago.
Volkan also incorporates two other ingredients in their brews a unique local flavor. The use of Santorini Honey is very prominent in their beers. This specific honey is unique due to the island’s dry climate and volcanic soil. Since its so dry, wildflowers bloom only briefly in the winter and spring, so the bees of Santorini mainly feed on cops like fava beans, grapevines and pistachio trees, as well as wild thyme and oregano. To add to the non traditional offerings to the bee’s is something that is very well known on the island, tons of wine grapes that are left out in the sun to mature, letting the bees indulge on their sucrose. The end result is Santorini Honey which is used towards the end of the brewing process to ensure that its flavor is fully preserved.
After a morning of cliff jumping in the crystal clear waters of the Amoudi Bay, we settled into a port side bar and watched the boats come in and out picking up tourists for day cruises. On the beer menu I noticed the usual Mythos, Fix and the Volkan beers I stumbled upon earlier in our trip, but then I noticed a few beers by Santorini Brewing company. The brewery's beers were inspired by the donkys which line the mountain path that zig zags from Oia down to the base of the Amoudi Bay. The lineup consisted of Crazy Donkey, an IPA which was the first IPA created in Santorini, Red Donkey, a Lagered ale created with Citra hops from Washington State and the Yellow Donkey which was another Lagered ale created with Cascade hops from Oregon. Tasting this beer in Greece was a treat because it was a little piece of home while enjoying paradise.
The Yellow Donkey paired perfectly with the plethora of octopus we were enjoying.
Merchandise for the Santorini Brewing company adorned many of the souvenir shops throughout Oia. After doing some research about the brewery back at our AirBnB I came to realize that the owners of Santorini Brewing Company were actually from Europe and the United States. I grabbed a Yellow Donkey t-shirt and headed for our ferry back to Crete.