Greek beer is not usually on the top of the list of things you need to try when visiting this amazing country. However, you’d be surprised at the variety of great beers that you can get in Greece, many of which are made by small breweries dotted around the country.
Let’s brush up on our Greek beer knowledge…
Brief History Of Greek Beer
The modern history of beer in Greece finds its roots in the early 1800s when Frederic Othon (Otto) became the first king of Greece in 1833. Otto came from Bavaria and brought with him a number of beer brewing specialists from his home. These specialists set up breweries in the 1840s as a way to supply Bavarian soldiers stationed in Greece with a taste of home.
The first official brewery in the country was created by Charles Johann Fuchs in 1864 in Athens. It was called Fix. Charles was the son of one of the original specialists brought over by Otto, Johann Ludwig Fuchs, who started a home brewery in Kolonaki. Charles took this concept and made it an official business in the Greek capital.
As travel between Greece and Germany expanded, so did the consumption and brewing of beer in Greece. By the start of the 1900s, there was a number of German breweries in Greece, as well as many micro-breweries started by the locals.
Did The Ancient Greeks Brew Beer?
It was originally thought that beer only came to Greece from Bavaria, via King Otto. However, artefacts from the Bronze Age have been found to show that the ancient Greeks did in fact brew and drink beer. Papyrus scrolls from around 5000 BC from ancient Egypt have shown that they were possibly the first to brew beer and spread this practice to Europe.
Artefacts dating back to between 2135 and 2020 BC show that beer was brewed and drunk in Greece during this time. However, beer tended to be more popular in the northern reaches of Europe as it was easier to grow the required crops up there. Greece instead became known for its wine.
What Are The Major Beer Brands In Greece?
- Fix – As mentioned, this is the oldest official brewery in the country and is still going because it makes popular beers.
- Santorini Brewing Company – The popular tourist island of Santorini is also home to one of the best breweries in the country. The Crazy Donkey is the top of the beers they make according to both locals and tourists
- Zeos Brewery – The Greeks love Zeos Brewery because their beers are so pure. They’re renowned for using only the best ingredients and for having the highest purity standards for all of their brews.
What Is The Most Popular Beer In Greece?
- Mythos – This is probably the most popular beer throughout the country and the most well-known Greek beer sold outside of the country. Their blond lager is definitely drunk the most.
- Bios 5 – The Athenian Brewery is known for a number of different beers but Bios 5 is their most Greek and probably most well-liked. It’s made from only five ingredients.
What Are The Styles Of Greek Beer?
Since the modern roots of beer brewing in Greece come so strongly from Bavaria, many of the beers made in the country stay true to the classic ways of making the drink. Of course, the Greek companies do put their own stamp on each one they brew to make it quintessentially Greek too. The most common types of beer found in Greece include:
- Blond lager
- Dark lager
What Are The Best Greek Beers To Try?
- Crazy Donkey by Santorini Brewing Company – The beers made here are famous for the unique factor that Santorini Brewing Company brings to their recipes. They use the salty waters surrounding the island, as well as some rare malts and hops. The Crazy Donkey is one of the best examples from the brand.
- Nissos Greek Island Pilsener – This beer from the small island brewery on Tinos has become incredibly popular around the country. The brewery may be small but it packs a punch in terms of flavour and how many awards it’s won since opening in 2012.
- Voreia Stout – Made in the Siris Brewery in Serres, northern Greece, the Voreia stout is one of the top beers in the country. It’s even spread as far as the USA and Australia. The stout is an unusual one for Greece and the tastes of chocolate and caramel are strong in this heavier beer.
What Are The Best Microbrew Or Craft Beers In Greece?
- 56 Isles – This light pilsener is created by the Microbrewery of Paros and is made using the barley that is grown on the island. The microclimate of the island gives the barley a distinct flavour profile that you can’t get anywhere else, and it shows in the beer.
- The First Craft Brewery – Craft beer first came to Greece in 1997 when this brewery came to life in Athens. Their beers are kept to small production numbers and the same traditional recipes are still used today. To find their beers, you just have to comb the markets around the city.
What Are The Best Greek Beers To Pair With Greek Food?
- Pilsener and Seafood – Pilseners are fairly common across Greece, as are fresh seafood dishes. If you’re by the coast and are enjoying a salmon supper, your beer pairing go-to should be a Greek pilsener.
- Lagers and Spanakotiropita – A delicious light beer pairs extremely well with the classic Greek phyllo pastry that’s filled with spinach and cheese. Lagers also go well with many of the classic Greek starters and salads.
How To Order A Beer In Greek
While almost everyone in Greece will be able to speak at least a little English, it’s always nice to be able to do the basics in the local language. Ordering a beer is one of those basics! In Greek, you say “Býra, parakaló”, which is basically saying “Beer, please. The pronunciation of the Greek is as follows: “beer-a paraka-loh”.
And to toast your drink, you say “Stin eye-ee-yass-ooh”.