As you are probably aware by my previous postings on this blog, (HERE) and (also HERE) over the past few years Jane and I have been extremely fortuitous to have been able to spend a little time each summer visiting friends of ours, Geordie and Lynne, on the beautiful island of Cyprus. Last year, back in June, we would be joined by Doug and Sharon, 2 more of our hosts' friends, also from North East Lincolnshire.
For the first time we would be flying from London Stansted airport, a departure point I last visited during the early part of my taxi driving days in the 1990's. Then, as I recall, it boasted a sizeable and modern terminal building but lacked the air routes and passenger footfall it has now. In fact, on my previous visit, I arrived, parked outside the main entrance to the terminal, as you could then, and was amazed that I was almost the only cabbie dropping a fare off there. How times have changed. It now has around 25 million passengers a year using the facilities with queues seemingly everywhere. This is accompanied by the constant rumble of aircraft noise, as they are either taking off or landing. After we arrived, and dropped the car off at the Meet and Greet, we made our way into the terminal and, after eventually clearing security, we decided on a drink and a bite to eat. Among the adequate number of restaurants, cafe bars and eateries is The Windmill, a Wetherspoon's outlet which, although not as cheap as its High Street cousins, did have a reasonable selection of cask and craft beers and a good selection of food on the menu.We ordered a pizza and, during our wait to be called to the gate, sampled three of the beers on offer. Starting off with the solid tasting fruit and citrus Golden Ale from Hanlons Brewery , the 4.2% Yellow Hammer, before a bottle of Redemption Brewing's Big Chief IPA, 5.5%, a good hoppy beer, with just a hint of honeyed sweetness. These were swiftly followed by a malty, slightly fruity bottle of East London Brewing Co. Cowcatcher APA, 4.8%. After these it was time to make our way to the gate, board our already slightly late Jet2 Boeing 737 aircraft, taxi out and wait.....wait for another 50 minutes. Apparently we, as many others, had become victims of an industrial action within France's Air Traffic Control.
We arrived at Paphos Airport around 10-30pm, remarkably just after it had stopped raining, the last bit of precipitation we would experience for the duration of our trip, and we were soon being chauffeured by our hosts back to Mandria. Tonight would be a quiet night, just a few local Cypriot favourite Keo or Leon beers to wind down, catch up on the gossip and enjoy the company.
Over the next few days we would be out for meals, both in Mandria and Paphos, but the choice of drinks were usually Keo or Leon. There were exceptions, but one must dig around, or do some prior research, to find Real Ales or Craft Ales. Luckily by now I did have that little bit of prior knowledge of the area, and I don't mind the usual Cypriot lager beers on a hot day either. So here is a potted review of what we managed to find on our most current expedition.
The Wooden Pub 2, Tomb of the King's Road.
One bar we had visited on previous trips is The Wooden Pub. Situated overlooking Paphos Harbour and Municipal Baths, it is in a good area to start, finish or base yourself for a few drinks when you are in the resort. It is one of a couple of the local Aphrodite's Rock Brewery pubs in the resort. The selection is quite good, with some cask from Aphrodite's Rock and local beers in bottles from True Ale and Hop Thirsty Friends, nestled with the Greek based Septem brews, alongside which are some British beers, such as Brewdog and St Austell. The vibe is easy going, and if you just want to chill and watch the world go by,it is the perfect place. For the slightly more athletic, there are the options of board games available to help you exercise your brain, if nothing else. Just a 15 to 20 minute stroll away from here is Wooden Pub 2, on The Tomb of the Kings Road. Offering a bigger site, which includes a quite sizeable outdoor beer garden, this a good place to chill out too. I believe it does offer a bit of entertainment, local bands and singers, during some evenings. The beer selection is much the same as its sister pub and the staff are very friendly, taking the time to have some interaction with the punters. During my visits to the two Wooden Pubs I managed to sample the couple of beers on offer from Hop Thirsty Friends. First up was Humor Weiss, 5%. This Wittbier is mildly fruity, some banana notes are evident, before a viscous, fruity finish. The second brew, brewed, incidently, for Hop Thirsty Friends by Greek based Septem Microbrewery, was Humor IPA, 6.5%. Quite a solid, if typical IPA, to be fair. There is a reasonable bitterness, balanced well with citrus fruitiness, and a long dry finish. A good beer to quench your thirst on. I also had chance to re-sample some of the disappointing True Ales I tried last year and some new ones. I started with the spicy Vienna Ale, followed with the reasonably fruity Porter and finished on the quite grainy Blonde Ale, all 5%, which is an improvement in ABV's on the previous offerings. I also bagged a True Ale Ginger Ale, coming in at the same strength, which was quite malty, with yeasty esters at the opening, before the subtle ginger heat kicks in. I would say that they are not quite there with these brews just yet, but there has been a huge improvement in the last year and they are not too far away from producing a decent selection of beers.
There are, of course, quite a few bars and restaurants in and around these two areas of Paphos, but most other places usually offer just Keo, Leon and Heineken. It is worth just asking, or looking at the beer fridge behind the bar though. Some do carry Aphrodite's Rock in bottles, and I did notice Wadworth's 6X on tap (keg I would guess) in a couple of establishments. Although I didn't get to visit this time, both theOld Fishing Shack Ale and Cider House in the resort, and The Beer Seller beer shop, just outside in the Geroskipou area, are going strong under the stewardship of Athos. There are a few bottled beers, some from the UK and Belgium, appearing in the supermarkets too.
On our last visit we found the major rebuilding works were still ongoing in the Old Town area. Roads were dug up, pavements non-existent and, to be honest, a right mess. I can, happily, report that almost all the work is finished. It has made it a bright and airy place to walk around, steeped in history but with a modern facade, although I haven't had chance yet to sniff out any real ales or craft beers in the bars.
8.5% Duvel in Klimataria
You will find Mandria just a short drive south of Paphos Airport and, although quite modern, it does have a certain type of old village charm to it. It is a growing area with a mixture of resident ex-pats, holiday home renters and owners, International tourists and, of course, local Cypriots. Raves and night-clubbing it isn't, but more than half a dozen cafe bars and restaurants adorn the village centre, each with its own character. The food choices are more than ample, Italian, Fish and Chips, traditional Cypriot dishes, and take-away options are all catered for. There seems to be a local competition as to whom can supply the biggest pork chop or the most spare ribs so the meals in the village are very good value for money, whoever you choose.The six of us enjoyed quite a few "competitive" meals here. As for beer, two neighbouring bars deserve a mention. Klimataria offers all the usual suspects but, if you ask, you will find bottles of 8.5%Duvel Belgian Strong Beer on offer from the fridge here. They are quite reasonably priced too, and, lets face it, this beer, with its grassy and floral notes, spice at the back leading to a long citrus finish, rarely disappoints. Directly over the road is Kentrpoikon. You can find two of the Erdinger Weissbrau beers, Weissbier Hefe-Weizen and Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel, on tap here. Both are 5.3% and as”standard” as you would find anywhere.
A trip to Nicosia
On our first ever visit to Cyprus, back in 2005, we stayed in the Protaras area. One of our many highlights from that trip was a visit to the only divided capital city in the world, Nicosia. It was quite fascinating and crossing the fortifications of the “Green Line”, (UN buffer Zone) showed more than the physical divide between the Greek influenced Republic of Cyprus and The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Back then, a visa to cross over the border cost £1 CYP and restrictions over goods were very strict. Now it's more relaxed and it has more border crossing points, making it somewhat easier, although tensions still exist. But this isn't a history lesson, nor a political analysis. I will leave that to those who are more qualified.
No Craft beer. Just a light lunch, Northern Cyprus style
On our trip, after taking the bus from Paphos to Nicosia, we stayed just a couple of blocks away from the crossing point in Ledras Street. We cooled down with a couple of Keo's (of course) on our arrival at the nearest street cafe-bar before crossing over to the TRNC for a bite to eat. Now, if you want real ales or craft ales in the north you will struggle. On our trip over, I did have a couple of “possible” bars on my list. Unfortunately, with it being late afternoon, a few bars were not open which curtailed our beer search, so food (which was very cheap, plentiful and absolutely wonderful) and Efes were our rewards. Our next trip here might uncover those elusive brews I have been searching for. Afterwards we wandered around a little while before crossing through the checkpoint and proceeding back over the border. We'd had a rather pleasant afternoon, one we hope to do again. Our next stop was Brewfellas, a friendly craft ale bar, just off Ledras Street. It has a pretty good range of beers on tap, as well as a great selection of botles and canned craft beer. Also there is a beer shop adjacent. We had planned to go out later that evening, so we just had time for a quick drink before heading back to our digs. My choice was Tempest Brewing's Elemental Porter, 5.1%, a nice bitter-sweet brew with coffee and Dark Chocolate, whilst Jane had the Budweisser Budvar Czech Pilsner, 5%. Both were very well kept.
Pivo's beer menu.
After freshening up back at our digs, we strolled out to a microbrewery and taphouse not too far away from were we were staying. This was Pivo Microbrewery,nestled close to the city's divide. This is a bright and airy bar, and has a mixed customer base of tourists and locals, but the love of beer is the the draw, along with knowledgeable staff and what looked like excellent food (although we didn't eat here ourselves after our huge plate fulls of grub we received over the border!). There are quite a few in-house brewed beers on tap and in bottles, and the range should suit most beer seekers. We started off with the 4x 0.2l Beer Tasting selection. This consisted of Pivo's Sitarenia Bavarian Weissbier, a malt driven brew with subtle stone fruit and bubble-gum at the back, 4.5%, Blondie, a 4.3% nicely balanced Bohemian Pilsner, a Czech Dark Lager, 4.2% Noir which imparted a nice mix of dark fruits tempered by light chocolate onto the palate and Hoppy, a quite complex American Pale Ale of 4.5% its fruit, floral notes and a tingle of citrus at the back which forces through to dominate in the finish. After sharing our four beers, Jane carried on with another Blondie whilst I went for the last 2 beers on tap. Smoked Fish, an American Smoked Ale of 4.9%, certainly has plenty of smoke in the taste with sweet fruit and just slight strains of citrus adding to a quite heavy mouthfeel, whereas Hopfish is totally opposite. This Summer Ale is light, hoppy and has a good citrus buzz to it. A very refreshing beer of 4.1%. It was now time to move on, so we headed back to Brewfellas, which, by now, was quite busy. A G&T was Jane's order, which was poured with a very generous spirit measure. I decided to go for a half of Tempest Marmalade on Rye, a big robust tasting DIPA of 9%, where sweet fruitiness is balanced its citrus and a lovely back bitterness. Last up was another half, this time Northern Monk/Against The Grain Collaboration Peanut Butter & Jelly Brown Ale, 10%. Wow! What a big punchy flavour. Jammy,malted caramel and biscuity sweetness on the outset, then the nuttiness of the peanut butter, and more fruit combine to lift the sweetly dry, but balanced, big finish. The high alcohol strength is not noticeable in the least. A surprisingly easy to drink beer, especially with that high ABV.
We had really enjoyed our night out in Nicosia and the following day, as we sat outside another friendly and quaint cafe-bar, sampling more generous food servings and local hospitality, we had already made our minds up to return here on our next break in Cyprus.
Another highlight of our visit was Sunday dinner, Cypriot style, taken at a traditional Taverna up in the hills beyond the Asprokremmos Reservoir, overlooking Paphos. There is no menu, or set meal, you book in and sit back and, over a cool beer, wait. Then it arrives, almost meze style. You are not quite sure what will come next, but you will get fresh bread with mixed starters, plenty of vegetables and huge roasted potatoes, piles of whatever meats are being cooked, and followed up with a dessert. Last, but not least, the zivania spirit comes out! Marvellous, and good value for money too. Our 8 days in Sunny Cyprus seemed to be over so quickly. As we reflected at the airport, awaiting our flight back to Manchester, it was clear that we would returning soon as this is still one of our favourite places to visit.
Here we are, entering the second quarter of October 2018 and I still have not blogged about anything that has happened since our trip to Poznan last November!. How rude of me. This is partly due to my work and free time balance, as well as a gradual change in my drinking habits. With the allotment, grandchildren and jobs around the house taking some precedents, my habits have been slowly going from “Big Nights Out” to drinking in leisure at home, enjoying the garden and sampling beers delivered from beer suppliers Flavourly, Beer52 and Honest Brew, along with others sourced from the Cleethorpes beer shop,Message In A Bottle, as well as any additional beer shops we come across on our travels. I must admit that the supermarkets seemed to have upped their game too when it comes to supplies of better quality bottled and canned beers. The Beermonster does still manage a trip out to the pub, from time to time,mostly away from my hometown, and, because of that, there are tales to be told. I will now try to expand on these tastings just a little further.
Now open. Docks Beers Brewery and Taproom, Grimsby.
First of all, though, a little bit of better news from our local beer scene, namely North East Lincolnshire. The Craft and Real Ale offerings has, at last, started to improve slightly over here in Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Axholme Brewery have managed to expand its availability of their cask and bottled ranges into more pubs in the area, especially their Cleethorpes Pale Ale Cask. They have also just put the finishing touches to a second brewery, this one in Grimsby, between the main shopping area and the town's dock, which will go by the name of Dock Beers.There is also a Tap Room bar on site. I can't wait for my first visit. Meanwhile, up in neighbouring Cleethorpes, The Counting House, and Arthur's House and a new and relocated Society Bar have all emerged to plump out the growing craft beer and cocktail offerings in the resort. We have visited The Counting House on a couple of occasions, which is housed in a former bank in Sea View Street. The range of beers, which isn't huge, usually contains one of the Axholme Brewerybeers. There are plenty of cocktails on offer though. During a couple of our trips to Cleethorpes, we have also popped into The No 1 Rereshment Rooms on the station, which is not to be confused with the other excellent real ale bar situated on Cleethorpes Station, the No 2 Refreshment Room, or Under The Clock, as it is known. The No 1 has a good selection of cask ales, spread over two bars, and the clientele are very welcoming. Although the upholstery, on our last visit, certainly needed an upgrade, the memorabilia spread around this multi-roomed bar certainly adds to the character. We usually pop into The Bobbin whilst we are in the resort, and, on our last visit, we opted to go for each of their three new craft cans on offer from Cork's Franciscan Well Brewery (part of Molson Coors). First up was Friar Weisse Wheat Beer,4.7%, which had a fruit and clove aroma, which is followed by citrus, some yeast and soft spice. Next up was Chieftain Irish Pale Ale, 5.5%. This one has a solid malt backbone, with tropical fruit, hints of vanilla, some citrus along with a nice hoppy lift at the back. Last up, Rebel Red Ale, 4.3%. Plenty of caramel throughout, with some berry fruitiness coming through at the end. It is, at last, looking a slightly more promising beer scene in our neck of the woods. One only hopes that this continues.
The Consortium in Louth.
One of our days out earlier this year was to The Capital of The Lincolnshire Wolds, Louth. This visit was days after the last snows of a very long winter, and saw the last vestiges of the white stuff still draping over the the base of the hedgerows, and the River Lud angrily thundering through town, brown and moody looking. We have been to this market town many times before, and I have also reviewed most of the drinking establishments within it. This time, after a meal in The Woolpack, followed by a couple of beers in The Gas Lamp Lounge, we wandered back into the centre of town to the recently opened microbrewery and micropub, The Consortium. This former coffee shop is the smallest bar in Louth, and probably one of the smallest in Lincolnshire. Although space is at a premium in here, the ambiance is friendly and the decor tasteful and fitting with the ethos of the place.It has a good half a dozen cask brews on offer, some of which are The Consortium's own. The beers we sampled in here were all from the house brewery. I started with a 3.9% Lincolnshire Porter, a nice plummy porter with just an edge of coffee at the back and a nice dry finish. Jane went for King Lud, 4.4%, a nicely crafted Pale Ale, with a citrus fruit over a balanced bitter-sweetness in the main which leads to a zesty bitterness at the back. Whilst Jane stuck with her choice, I went for Consortium Brewing Co's Street Beer Series IPA, 4.5%. Although not quite as punchy and hoppy as some IPA's, this was still a good refreshing brew. Red berries and some soft fruit combine well with zest and leads to a crisp finish.
After our session here, we decided to visit a pub that has won many Real Ale awards over the years, The Brown Cow Freehouse, in Newmarket. Being short of time, the last bus was due to leave in 30 minutes, We quickly ordered our drinks, Fuller's London Pride, which we enjoyed in the packed surroundings of the bar before rushing back to the bus station. The beers all seemed to be in good order, the bar staff are friendly and, by the size of the portions on the plates, the food is well received by the many punters who frequent this freehouse. What a good day we had experienced yet again, and we often wonder why we don't nip on the bus there more often, although the 40 to 50 minute ride back on the bus with no toilet does suggest one reason! Lincoln
The Cosy Club's interior
Jane and I (well, Jane really) decided on a bit of pre-holiday shopping, and, as we hadn't been there together for a while, we opted for a day out in Lincoln. Arriving by train, we wandered up towards the High Street area to do the retail therapy bit before heading to our first pub of the day. We decided to give The Cosy Club, housed in the recently renovated Corn Exchange building, a look. This is a wonderfully and sympathetically decorated bar with original marketplace advertising on the walls joined by paintings of the custodians of this former trading place. I would feel the need to grow and wax a fancy moustache if I were to be a regular here, such is the authenticity of the surrounds. On our visit the only cask ale on was The Lincolnshire Brewing Company's Cheeky Imp, a 4.6% nutty and malty Bitter with a nice bitter-sweetness throughout. Part of the profits go towards Lincoln City FC's Future Imps programme. Being a Grimsby Town fan that was a big sacrifice to make in the name of beer reviewing, but the beer did win. Next up, whilst my Good Lady visited another couple of shops, I was let off the reigns for an hour to do my own bit of exploring. My next port of call was The Dandy Lion Alehouse, in Newland. In here I chose a Lagunitas Day Time Ale,4.6%, a nice floral and citrus IPA style brew, with a wonderful lemon sherbert like tickle in the dry finish. The pub has a relaxing feel, and is quite modern in its interior design. After this it was back to the hustle and bustle of the centre, and another bottled beer in The Curiosity Shop, situated at the beginning of The Strait. Inside, the decor is best described as shabby chic, I suppose, but an amiable warmth is forthcoming from the bar staff. My beer of choice was Brooklyn East IPA, weighing in at 6.9%. I sat outside and savoured the bitter opening to this one, which is followed by a hint of treacle sweetness and some citrus zest. There are hints of dark fruit in the depths but citrus and zest are the main players. Nice.
The cask beer flight selection in The Carinal's Hat.
Now reunited with a happy shopper, we popped across the road to The Cardinal's Hat. I have previously reviewed this pub ( Here and also Here 2) so straight on to the beers. Jane had decided to keep to cider in the main today so that was an easy pick. I decided to go for the Beer Flight, four of the 1/3 pint measure sampler cask beers for £5.25. My selection was Pentrich Brewing Rain of Ruin, at 9% a lovely big and punchy Imperial Stout, 4.5% Factory Pale Ale from Manchester Brewing Co, and two from Dukeries Brewery. These were Lord Furnival Strong Golden Ale, 5.1%, and Castle Hill Best Bitter, 4.2%. All four on my flight were good solid beers and certainly well looked after. The food is good here too. We shared a platter of meats, which came with bread, olives etc. Fed and ready to go, we took a gulp of air before marching from here up The Strait and Steep Hill towards its summit, and our next bar, BeerHeadZ. Another first visit to this bar, and what a place! I counted 15 cask and craft keg pumps and a fridge full of more craft ales. We sampled three beers in here, First up was Fyne Ales Loch & Key, 5.5%, a nice brew with soft flavours of citrus, berries and just a touch of pine. This was followed by a Kinver Brewery Kinver Egdge, a nicely balanced nutty 4.2% Bitter, with soft hops at the back. Jane, meanwhile, deserting the apple juice, had the Wellbeck Abbey Brewery National Treasure, a Golden Ale of 5.4%. Although nothing exceptional, it was still a solid brew with a medium biscuity sweetness and dry and bitter finish. Our next stop, the final one at this altitude, was The Lincoln Tap House and Kitchen. There is a lovely roof terrace here, which gives a nice view over Bailgate and towards Lincoln Cathedral. The bar, downstairs, hosts 10 different pumps and from these we ordered a Beavertown Neck Oil, 4.3%, a light, crisp and refreshing Pale Ale and an Aspall's 5.5% Suffolk Dry Cider, before taking in the view. We, finished our drinks, bathed in sunshine but with an edge of coolness still in the air, and decided it was time to retrace our steps towards the bottom of Steep Hill, grab a final drink or two, before moving on to the train station. On the way down the hill, towards The Strait And Narrow pub, we popped into The Crafty Bottle Beer Shop, this was for MY retail therapy. After picking up a few little treats for home we settled ourselves in the large but cosy interior of The Strait And Narrow and ordered our drinks. This time it was Waen Brewery Lemon Drizzle, a 3.7% Golden Ale with, obviously, a cake and lemon tang to it, and a 4% Timmermans Peach Lambic. A sweet and fruity ending to our Lincoln visit, and, besides a slight bag malfunction which enforced a hurried game of "Chase the Bottle" down the lesser slope of this area of Lincoln, our enjoyable day out uneventfully came to a close. We boarded our train back to Grimsby in the knowledge that our next big day out would be in the warm Mediterranean sunshine of Paphos.....but that is another story.