My first beer in Crete was Mythos on draught at the pool. I mentioned it in the last article about Athens that Mythos in a green bottle was my first beer in Greece. It wasn't great in the bottle. It's owned by Carlsberg by the way. On draught however, it's a lovely malt forward lager. I had quite a number of them at the hotel.
The pool at the resort by the way is pretty cool. You can swim right up to the bar and sit on underwater bar stools. In that scenario, charge to your room t avoid soggy cash.
We were staying near Platanias in the Agia Marina area. It's a long strip of shops and restaurants in between hotels and resorts. There didn't seem to be much in the way of craft beer though the local supermarket had a decent enough selection.
On the second night, we asked for a restaurant recommendation from reception. Nymfi was recommended as one of the best local restaurants so headed there. While I checked out their menu outside, Pauline checked out a smaller place across the road. I wasn't immediately drawn to Nymfi's menu but Pauline called me over and said that this place looks like they brew their own beer.
The restaurant was called Nostos and as it turns out, had only opened a few weeks beforehand. They brew their beer there and while the brewer/owner came over to us for a chat, I didn't ask for a tour since we were on honeymoon.
The beers they brew as Belgian inspired but usually American hopped. It makes for some great beer for pairing with food. They are only in bottle and there's an element of homebrew about the presentation as you can see in the images. On the three nights we visited Nostos, we ordered beer first and then had wine with our main courses, mostly because they have some excellent local wine available.
Another Cretian beer I came across at another restaurant was one I can't pronounce or read due to the alphabet used but Σoλo is a brewery based in Heraklion, the largest city at the far end of the island. I didn't get to visit that city so thankfully the beer was available.
I would say that the pale ale seemed a little stale, potentially as being a restaurant, there might be slow turnover. The porter stood up a lot better though and was pretty damn good but then again, it was 7% so I would expect it to age nicely.
By far, the craft beer with the furthest reach was from the Cretan Brewery in the hills outside Chania (Hania). I actually visited this as part of a private wine tour since one of the usual vineyards was closed on Sundays. This of course suited me nicely.
One odd thing I noticed was that there's some brand confusion going on. In the image above, the modern goat logo and simple name of Cretan Brewery is clean and simple. Indeed some of their swag in the shop sported this newer design.
The older looking logo on the red and yellow beer mat looks a little dated. They haven't i[dated any of the taps yet. The brand of the beer is called Charma (Carma) or Χάρμα in Greek.
It's a remote location but it has a great view. It can be reached by taxi of course, though be careful of Greek taxis. You can also get there on The Little Fun Train during one of their tours but you only get to spend a short time there. Apparently there is a limited bus option too.
One thing worth noting is that the beer is draught only, unless you visit the brewery where they keep some beer in bottles to purchase. These appear to be hand bottled as the fill levels vary significantly so be on the lookout for under-filled bottles.
Here's a panorama of the harbour which I took from the lighthouse. It's a lovely little city and harbour area with many narrow little alleys full of cafés, restaurants and art shops. Don't forget all the souvenir shops though.
The place to be is down by the harbour though. The whole stretch is almost exclusively bars and restaurants and a number of them sell Charma beer. I was a big fan of their Dunkel lager but their regular Helles is also a lovely and flavoursome unfiltered lager.
For food, I recommend Salis. The food is incredible for the most part and their wine list is very impressive. They also happen to have Charma beer on draught. Keep an eye out for the boat outside that sells sponges. They owner basically looks like Popeye and it ads some visual amusement. The two best main courses we tried were lamb osso buco and a truffle risotto which was simply stunning.
Crete might not be a traditional beer destination but if you find yourself there, you won't go thirsty, that's for sure.
Let's be honest here, I went to Greece with no expectation of beer at all. For one thing, I was on my honeymoon so beer wasn't top of my priorities, spending time with my new wife was. Of course if we can share some beers while doing that, I might as well keep track of what I'm drinking and get a few blog posts put of it.
We spent two nights in Athens and you know what? It was just enough time for me. Unless you like wandering around museums for hours, two or three days is more than enough to take in the city. We were very lucky with out hotel as it was right at the foot of the acropolis. In fact the pathway started outside our hotel and proceeded up the hill to The Acropolis and the Parthenon and then back down the other side where you fine the acropolis museum.
On our first evening, we came across Beer Time. It was on the Ratebeer list so that's where I was heading and it became our favourite place in Athens. We dropped back a number of times over the two days.
A lot of places give you salty snacks with your beer in Greece and Beertime gave us popcorn which was appreciated.
The menu is extensive with plenty of Greek beer available in bottle as well as a few on draught. The Septem beers were pretty good, American style pale ales. It was the draught Zeos beers on the front page we kept going for though. There is a Zeos pilsner which is grand but the two Beertime house beers were excellent. Pauline loved the lager pictured above with the popcorn and I fell in love with the dark lager and had many of them.
I also tried some bottled beer along the way but didn't take note of everything as we were on honeymoon after all. This one in Beer Time was from Seven Island brewing on Corfu and is called Seven Drops saison. It's actually a collaboration with Epirus Brewery. It's aggressively carbonated but ticks all the right boxes for a saison. However after this, I moved back to the house dark lager.
I can't talk about Greece without talking about their macro beers such as Alfa above. The main macro beers of Greece are Alfa and Fix as well as Mythos. In Athens, it was mostly Alfa and Fix that I came across and of the two, Alfa was the better option. We had Alfa in a number of places that weren't serving craft beer. In the picture above, it was our last day and we had got on a hop on hop off bus to the harbour area around Piraeus. We had lunch there but we had to walk past over a dozen bars and restaurants that were only serving Amstel until we got one serving Alfa at least and that was purely down to the taste of the beer itself rather than who owns it.
My first beer in Athens that first afternoon was actually a bottle of Mythos while Pauline had a bottle of Alfa Weiss. We paired that with a prawn cocktail. If I'm honest, the Mythos in the green bottle was nowhere near as good as the Alfa Weiss. That was likely down to it being in a green bottle of course.
To be clear though, Alfa is owned by Heineken while Fix and Mythos are owned by Carlsberg. I would later discover that draught Mythos is actually quite tasty when I got to Crete.
Another good beer bar we came across was Barley Cargo. We hadn't intended on going there, we were just walking around the famous Plaka area when we spotted it and went in and then realised it was one of the better beer bars listed on Ratebeer.
Inside are a number of taps, most of which are from local Greek breweries. The first two on the left are actually from Crete and we were going there the next day so there was no real need to try them but that didn't stop us of course. I'll mention them in the article about Crete though.
I did order this smoked Robust porter but it was the end of the keg so the barman shrugged his shoulders and gave me a free half glass of beer until I could pick something up. It was a lovely beer though and I would have loved to have a full measure. This is no Bamberg racuhbier though, it's a nice 6.2% porter with a little smoke.
The Nissos Pilsner was very tasty and Pauline really enjoyed it as well as the voreia summer beer I tried. I didn't take any notes in Barley Cargo as to be honest, it was late and my palate was wrecked so I was just there to enjoy the beer.
Just across the road from our hotel, I spotted a little bar with a few people seated outside so we went to investigate. It's called Beerman and they have cans of beer stacked outside. There was only one person sitting inside when we went in and it looked like the people outside were the owners and friends. We had a few Greek beers, I don't actually recall which and to be fair, we went there both nights before going to bed as it was a late bar. I actually think it's worth exploring properly if you are in Athens though as it had a pretty good bottle menu.
On Athens for tourism Just a note now on Athens as a tourist destination rather than beer. I said above that I felt two days was enough. We don't usually wander around museums because they take so much time, that said, we do visit museums from time to time where we have the extra time.
Firstly, the Acropolis and Parthenon are amazing. Even if you don't visit the Parthenon itself, just wandering around the hill itself gives outstanding views of the city and it's rather humbling being around something so ancient and grand.
I would however warn that the fee to visit the Parthenon is very expensive in my view. It's a whopping €20 or so per person which seems a lot though I've read (not on the ticket) that it may be valid for 5 days meaning you can visit a few times. This might be useful for photography as you can get different lighting conditions. It also apparently drops to €10 off season which is far more reasonable.
Also, the open top bus tour is potentially worth doing but bear in mind that most of the time spent on the bus is spent navigating the narrow streets and traffic. The one I did was City Tours (the red one) and they had a free snack at one of the spots. The Piraeus tour we added on was essentially useless as a tour and only good if you want to visit the harbour itself or get a ferry.
The fact is, there's very little to really see in Athens beyond the area around The Acropolis and a few temple areas and all of these are with walking distance of each other.
The HotelI just wanted to mention the hotel we stayed in. It was called Andromeda Downtown Suites and is located at the start of the hill up The Acropolis and the markets that lead all the way up the hill. The room is lovely and has air conditioning which is necessary. It's also very quiet inside. There's even a roof top area with seats and a pool. Although we didn't bother using the pool, we did use the roof one evening and took in the view with a few beers.
One thing to mention is that when we arrived, there was no one at reception and the door was locked. We called the number but we had to Google it on our phones first so if you have no internet available, you might be in trouble.
Since Greece is all about the islands, that's where we headed next. A week on the ancient island of Crete was the main part of the honeymoon.
I'm back! If you hadn't realised, I got married on April 28th in Cork and went on honeymoon to Greece and Germany for most of May. There was beer in both places so I'll write about those shortly but for now, here's some cider that was sent to me by Jack Daniel's. Yup, you read that correctly, cider from Jack Daniel's!
They sent me a lovely black wooden box (apple crate) full of their branding. There were 4 bottles of cider at the bottom covered with a load of apples, each with a Jack Daniels sticker. That box now belongs to my cats. Sophie (black and white one) has made it her bed.
It was a lovely sunny evening after work the other day so I brought a couple of bottles out to the balcony to try and here's what I thought.
The aroma was all apple juice with a hint of bourbon and vanilla. I then tasted it and initially found it very sweet and juice like but then again, most ciders are very sweet to me. Full disclaimer, I'm not a major cider fan as I find them sickly sweet usually. There are exceptions of course but I prefer tart, dry ciders and if it borders on sour, all the better.
Anyway there's lots of bourbon oak and vanilla going on here and it started to taste like a bourbon with cider in it. the bourbon starts to dominate. To me, it's very alcopop like but it's not completely unpleasant. In fact it grew on me slightly. This is one where ice might work better actually as it will cut some of that bourbon and sweetness which is perhaps what they are counting. Most people put ice in their cider.
It's clearly not something I would personally buy myself but I'm not their target market as I wouldn't consider myself a cider drinker.
If you like cider and have a penchant for whiskey, or even just a Jack and Coke, this could be worth looking out for. It's also only available in the UK and Ireland as far as I know.
This is not to be confused with their Winter Jack, also labelled as Tennessee Cider. That's some sort of apple cider liqueur with Jack Daniel's whiskey. Also, I use the word bourbon above. Jack Daniel's isn't considered a bourbon but the process is almost the same and it tastes more bourbon than Irish whiskey or Scotch so that's the reason.
Guinness and O'Hara's sent me some samples of their new latest releases to try so I took out the camera and recorded a tasting session. I skipped the Pure Brew because I had already tried it. The Pilsner was similar to Hophouse 13 but perhaps a little cleaner and more of a lager crispness about it. I really liked the Citra IPA. It had a lot more body than I was expecting from a Guinness beer.
Moving on to the Hop Adventure, I really liked this one. It's a very easy drinking IPA and it was nice to try the 5th of the Hop Adventure series.
Good Friday in Ireland has always been a mystery to me. Since 1927, the sale of alcohol on the Friday before Easter (Good Friday) has been banned in Ireland. The original act also banned the sale of alcohol on St Patrick's Day and Christmas day but the St Patrick's day bit was removed in the 60s. It wasn't until this year (2018) that the Good Friday part has been removed. That just leaves Christmas day and to be honest, I don't really care about that. Sure, it's also a religious holiday in spirit but really, it's a day for being with your family.
After work, I headed in to the city to meet up with The Beer Nut. He was 5 pubs in and when I arrived, we did 5 more. We met at Underdog before heading to Bull and Castle, Beerhouse, Black Sheep and then finally Porterhouse Temple Bar. I was on the bus home by 9pm.
When I got home, I shot two videos for YouTube. The first one was essentially me making an eejit of myself trying to come up with a catchy greeting.
I then tasted three beers on camera before relaxing for the rest of the night. Watch out for my cat going nuts in the background.
The beers were, Trouble Brewing: Silk Road Saison, Whiplash: Suckerpin and Trouble Brewing: Space Juice. I had only bought them from Drinkstore the week before and itching to be consumed.
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In episode three of my vlog, I talk about Legacy Irish Craft Cider from Waterford. It was kindly sent to me by Liam Mc Donnell from Legacy. I was pleasantly surprised because I tend to only like bone dry ciders but this was just the right level of medium dry and slightly sweet for me to enjoy and more than that, wish I had some more.
My two cats appear in this video by the way. Mostly well behaved thankfully.
I hope you enjoy the video and please, don't forget to like the video and perhaps subscribe to the YouTube channel.
Don't forget, I am running a competition for the next few weeks to win a pair of tickets to the Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair. You can enter here.
Me presenting Joe from White Hag with an award at last year's Alltech Beer Fest
I have a pair of tickets to the The Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair this March. The prize will include 2 x tickets for opening night, Thursday 8th March. Each ticket includes 6 x food/drink tokens and an EcoCup.
To enter, all you have to do is click a bunch of stuff below or by using this link. The competition runs until Saturday the 3rd of March. The only rule is that you must be over 18 years of age to win for obvious reasons.
I've never used this Gleam service to run a competition before so fingers crossed it all works. Let me know if there are any issues entering. Thanks to Alltech for providing the tickets.
Waterford has its first, exclusively craft beer bar thanks to the local Metalman Brewery. It opened up in December in a surprisingly short time.In fact I think they only made the decision to take it on the month before and spent a few weeks getting it ready.
One of the most touching features inside is a collage of images showing some of the journey of Metalman over they years. I especially love the top-right image where Tim looks smug and Gráinne is facepalming. I wonder what happened there?
The bar is clean and tasteful with a number of Metalman taps on the left and a load of guest taps on the right as well as a fully stocked fridge and whiskey collection.
Exposed brick and Metalman swag make up a lot of the decor but it really is an fantastic little bar with good music at a low level so we can have conversations. It was a little on the quiet side in terms of punters when we were there but I expect things will pick up as word spread and the weather warms.
The good news is that when leaving the train station, it's the first bar worth going in to if walking along the quays which also makes it the last bar on the way back to the train station when heading home.
Near to Metalman is Tully's. A cosy little bar with a fantastic beer garden and a great range of Irish craft beer available. They seem to have split the bar with the first section of taps on the left being all craft and then when you walk through the partition into the back part of the bar, the taps change to regular macro beer for the most part. I say that because Sullivan's is also located in there but that's likely because C&C act as their distributor despite them being independent and having a bloody good red ale. That's almost a shame because it might associate them with being part of C&C but at the end of the day, it gets their brand out there so it's better for them in the long run.
And lastly, we visited the Metalman Brewery for a tour in the afternoon. Here's a photo of their canning line. It's small but functional and was Ireland's first canning line in an independent microbrewery.
My latest vlog looks at three non alcoholic options. Pure Brew from Guinness as well as the old reliable Beck's Blue and a dry hopped craft soda from an Irish brewery, YellowBelly. Hope you enjoy it. Either watch in the window below or click here to watch directly on YouTube. Don't forget to like and subscribe to my channel to keep updated on new videos.
I was sent a bottle of a Barleywine brewed at Sullivan's in collaboration with Hot Press Magazine before Christmas. Stuart Clark went to Kilkenny to help brew the beer. If you don't know Stuart from reading the magazine, you've probably heard him on the radio talking about music but Stuart is also a beer aficionado and often writes about Irish craft beer in Hot Press.
Stuart spent the day in Kilkenny with Sullivan’s Master Brewer Ian Hamilton back in October to brew the beer. I received it just before Christmas but didn't get to open it until January as I had a cold over Christmas like everyone else in the country it seems.
So on to the beer itself. It's very dark for a start, very stout like actually. I was pretty surprised by how bitter it was, barley wines are often pretty sweet. That bitterness was balanced by what basically tastes like fruitcake or Christmas pudding.
I found it very drinkable for a barley wine which makes sense because it's only 7% which presents one small problem for me. A barley wine typically begins at 8% and increases from there where they usually hover either side of 10%. A good example would be Sierra Nevada's Bigoot Barley wine which is 9.6% and always a great beer despite its strength.
The Sullivan's Barley wine is more English in character than American but it's still a little on the low ABV side for the style. That said, it was delicious and I very much enjoyed it.
To compare, I opened an old bottle of Black's The Irish Giant Barley wine. This beast is 11% and had a BBF date of October 17 so it was probably bottled in October 2016. That doesn't matter with a barley wine as they are designed to be aged for years. This one was oxidised as you might expect with lashings of prunes and some sherry. There was also the unmistakable hint of Brettanomyces giving a horse blanket aroma along with lemon sherbet. It was quite fizzy too, more so than I recall from the last time I had it. It reminded me of Orval in a lot of ways.
I'm not sure the Brett was supposed to be there but it worked beautifully and suited the beer perfectly.
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