Greece is famous for spirits like ouzo and tsipouro, it is a land of many vineyards, a country proud of the varieties and international awards presented to its wines. As of late, however, it has been offering a considerable selection of beers made in large, yet mostly local breweries, with an incredible variety of flavours, colours and aromas and a local character which make Greek beer truly special.
Depending on your mood and preferences, you can try a bottom fermentation beer (using a bottom-fermenting yeast), pils, lager - mostly blondes, or a top fermentation beer (using a top-fermenting yeast) whose main characteristic is a more complex palate and a darker colour, as well as a weiss beer – usually unfiltered, with a turbid colour and a rich head!
Particularly popular in Greece and enjoying an ever-increasing share in the international market, these beers will cool you down not only on a hot summer day but they will be the perfect accompaniment to traditional delicacies of the Greek cuisine any time of the year.
Let’s meet them…
An outline of Greek beers
FIX is the historic brand of beer which became popular with Greeks as soon as it was introduced in the Greek market, back in 1864. It is a premium lager with a mild taste, the perfect choice of drink at all times. It boasts dozens of awards and distinctions – the most recent one being the 2 Gold Stars award presented to Fix Dark.
Mythos beer (lager) was first launched in the market in 1997 and it has since been a success story! Popular, bright looking blonde with a rich head and a cool taste, this beer is made of select varieties of barley and hops. It has received major awards and distinctions and it is currently one of the biggest beer brands in the Greek market.
Another highly regarded Greek product is Alfa beer, a light lager with a bright golden-yellow colour and a discreet aroma of malt and hops which goes down very nicely and is the perfect accompaniment to Greek dishes.
A beer true to its Mediterranean descent, a unique recipe with an international award (Sial D’ Or Country) is none other than BIOS 5; it is the first beer with a rich combination of 5 cereals (barley, wheat, rye, corn and rice) from the Greek earth, resulting in a delicious full flavour that you’ve never tasted before in a drink.
Born in the historic Argos town in Peloponnese, ZEOS comes in three types: black weiss, pilsner and lager. Neda is made in the district of Messinia, and bears the name of an ancient Greek deity; it is an ‘original’ classic flavour lager, with a rich hop aroma and lightly spicy, with a golden colour.
Best enjoyed in summer, Blue Island of the Hellenic Brewery of Atalanti is a refreshing drink, to keep you pleasant company while you relax by the beach. It is the first Greek summer beer, ideal for the hot summer days. In May 2013, Blue Island was the runner up for the ‘New Product Innovation Of The Year’ award. The category appeared in the international competition ‘Canadean’s International Beer Strategy Congress’ which took place in Prague.
Thessaloniki has a long tradition in beer making and by all means deserves to be mentioned. Status deluxe has been ‘born and bred’ in this town and you can enjoy it in luxury hotels, restaurants and bars. Vergina is also a beer made in the North of Greece; it is a lager beer with a rich palate, either red with an amber colour and exotic fruit aroma or weiss with a rich fruity aroma, which has also been awarded the silver Medal in the category ‘Speciality Wheat Beer’ of The International Brewing Awards – the oldest international beer competition.
If you are an organic drink fan, Peiraiki Microbrewery will definitely cater to your taste! It produces a fresh organic beer of traditional brewing where the fermentation and maturing process takes six weeks. Lager, pils, pale ale as well as dark beer (using only organic farming raw material - depending on the season) will practically satisfy all beer fans.
Beers with an island temperament!
Water, barley, hops and yeast and … voilà, you have your beer! Still, there are small breweries, seated on a Greek island, which are on an experimental mood! They add top-quality, all-natural, original local ingredients which lead to unexpected combinations and eventually create quite special flavours!
Fresh Beer Chios Fresh Beer blonde ale is unpasteurised and unfiltered. It is made in Kampos, Chios Island from select varieties by malt and whole hops cones using water from Panagia Voitheia Springs. Brewing takes place slowly and in the traditional manner without any use of preservatives or catalysts; this is why this beer should be kept in the fridge!
Explosive (!) Volkan beer is an award-winner product boasting a special recipe. The rare grape honey from Santorini Island is mixed with the less-known citron [a kind of citrus fruit] from Naxos Island and the island’s volcanic water, which undergoes a filtering process through Santorini basalt (Lava Rock Filter).
Mesa Gonia - one of Santorini’s major wine producing territories – has recently become the home for a microbrewery called Santorini Brewing Company with a little donkey as a trademark – the animal is also Santorini’s symbol! The brewery produces unique lagered ales which are a cross between the refreshing lager and the full-bodied, aromatic Ale; they are bottled in 750 ml ‘italian style’ impressive bottles with a yellow or a red donkey label, as is done with certain seasonal special editions.
A Cycladic beer with a character, fresh taste, unpasteurised and unfiltered: these features belong to Nisos pilsner from Vagia, Tinos Island. The beer was created to be the perfect accompaniment to Cycladic cuisine.
Another fresh, unpasteurised beer with a rich, delicious flavour coming from greek flower honey is none other than Septem Sunday’s Honey Golden Ale produced on Evia Island. It ranks high among the best Greek brewing brands and it has been awarded the Gold medal in the International Beer Challenge competition.
Mary Rose tastes of fruit and caramel and belongs to the fascinating world of the red ales; it has won the Gold Medal in the Brussels Beer Challenge competition and the Silver Medal in the International Beer Challenge competition, in the same category. It is produced on Evia Island, in a state-of-the-art plant owned by Septem Microbreweries, using ingredients of high quality only.
Delphi Beer is a premium beer which also comes from Chalkida, Evia Island. It is a Mediterranean aromatic and unpasteurised blonde, double fermented and, of course, blurry.It has got a distinctive, particularly aromatic taste, with a light, pleasantly bitter aftertaste evocative of fresh malt. The dominant scent of acacia and orange blossom balance with the delicate scent of hop. A non-pasteurized beer which is traditionally fermented in the bottle.
Last but not least, a Corfiote beer named Ionian Coffee Porter by Corfu Beer Company has been chosen as one of the three best beers in the world, during the International Real Ale Festival in the UK, one of the top ones of its kind.