Greece may be in the spotlight more so for its monetary tussles with the eurozone than its domestic products, but a dearth in finances does not correlate with a dearth in exceptional alcohol. In addition to having pride in the wine and other alcoholic beverages Greece produces—ouzo and rakï, to name a few—Greeks are more than happy to discuss the local beer, and as soon as the clock strikes noon, they are more than happy to crack a cold one open, too.
A surprisingly large beer culture is brewing both on Greece’s islands and its mainland, something you shouldn’t miss out on during your trip. Whether you’re ignoring your mother’s warnings and visiting Plato’s homeland in the next few weeks or playing it safe and waiting for this financial turmoil to subside, here are six beers that will take the edge off during your Grecian escapades.
On the island of Santorini, its donkeys enjoy the status as one of the more reliable residents, with the garbage men even using these beasts of burden to lug their trash. As such, it’s only fitting to sip one of these hoppy, kick-ass brews from the Santorini Brewing Company atop the lovable rides. If you’d like to avoid Riding While Intoxicated though, enjoying a Red Donkey during a rosy sunset while gazing out at the bay or the village of Oia’s pristine blue domes isn’t a terrible option either.
Sunday’s Honey Golden Ale
Given that Greece enjoys something between spring and summer nine out of the 12 months in a year, your familiar syrupy dark beers such as stouts or barleywines aren’t a viable option as your sweet beer. But after dinner when your newfound local friends decide to pregame at a bar in Athens, start the night off with a Sunday’s Honey Golden Ale from Greek microbrewery Septem. Its sweetness is the perfect way to close the meal of grilled kalamari and Skordalia that you’ve just finished, but not so heavy that you’ll be too full for dancing your feet off until 4 a.m. at Venue.
Mary Rose Red Ale
Photo Courtesy of OK Athens
Yes, this Greek beer sounds insanely English. That’s because it’s an Irish-style beer named after a British ship. Currently a staple around the island of Crete, this Septem beer is the drink of choice when you’re sailing out to sea (it does owe its name to a ship, after all). In addition to the resin-y hops, the bittersweet fruit notes are something of a spark that’ll wake you up from the daylong gusts of salty sea air. If you’re lucky, you might even wind up sipping a Mary Rose alongside your fresh catch of the day.
FIX Hellas Lager
Greece might have the Acropolis and a variety of sculptures in its archaeological museum, but if you want a different side of Greece’s history, look no further than FIX Hellas. Founded in 1864 by the Fuchs family from Bavaria, the brewery went out of business in 1983. Experiencing something of a revival in 2009 thanks to a buyout, this Hellas-style lager is back. If you’re out getting souvlaki and looking for a reliable and slightly cheap drink but feeling the malaise from downing Mythos for the past few days, order one of these guys (they’re everywhere, seriously). The malty brew doesn’t overpower the meat, but rather balances out with its fatty goodness and tzatziki sauce.
Photo Courtesy of Greekbeershop.gr
When you find yourself completely soaked in sweat and drained beyond all belief from the heat, add a little pizazz with this brew. Volkan Grey, a well-spiced hefeweizen, is pretty much bursting out of the bottle with citrus zest. It’s best to drink this on Santorini because, well, it’s where it’s from. But if you can’t make it out to the eye-candy of an island, don’t worry—you can find different Volkan beers all over Greece.
Essentially the Budweiser of Greek beer, besides a biscuit-y sweetness that tastes a lot better than its American equivalents, this brew is probably the only one you’ll know. But as with any beer, freshness is key, so Mythos will taste a lot better in its homeland than your own. This easy-drinker is ubiquitous in both finding it and best occasions for drinking it—during or after tanning at any one of Greece’s gorgeous beaches, while dancing at the nightclubs in Mykonos or when you’re strapped for cash in Athens and have only one euro to spend on beer. Don’t leave Greece without trying one of these guys.
Matthew Sedacca is a graduate student and freelance writer based in New York.
Top photo by tru.st, CC-BY