Sunday, 19 July 2009

Some Holiday Photos

As promised, here are some holiday photos. You may be delighted or you may be disappointed to hear that they are all of beer. Yes, I was sad enough to take a picture of every beer I had just for your viewing pleasure. And to add to my selflessness I made sure that I drank a wide variety of different beers from can, keg and bottle. And I tried every Greek beer I could get my dusty sun-tan lotion-soaked paws on. Enjoy my holiday in beers!

1. The first beer – a Mythos of course - with the mountains in the background. That one tasted amazing!

2. Mythos, this one in a restaurant on the beach.

3. Another Mythos. Get used to seeing those green letters.

4. And another one! This one with Pete Brown’s Three Sheets to the Wind. Great book and more on that to come, book worms.

5. You’ll never bloody guess what this is… Loving the frosted glass here.

6. It’s not Mythos! McFarland Red. Nutty but slightly phenolic. I didn’t love it love it love it.

7. Ah now here’s something pretty special. Even though I was away I didn’t forget my food and beer pairing: Italian Hell Bier with pizza flavoured crisps. Genius. Nice beer too, very pale, pretty sweet with hints of melon, apples and bubblegum. I will admit to only buying it because it was called Hell though, even if it was one of the better beers I had.

8. This looks like Heineken but it is in actual fact Amstel. I was watching Andy Murray in the Wimbledon semi-final with this one. When it’s cold and in an iced glass Amstel is very drinkable but as soon as the chill snap leaves it’s actually terribly.

9. Same bar just a pint later.

10. Mythos! Welcome back. And say hello to Lauren’s wrist and a little bit of boob.

11. Keo. Kee-ee-ee-o. Cypriot lager. Another pale one. This had some apple juice aromas to begin which left quickly. It’s very drinkable but a bit thin and becomes bland. Best enjoyed quickly.

12. Furstenbrau (plus some umlauts). It says it’s produced in Greece but the can also suggests, somehow, an Australian link. Ratebeer tells me it’s produced in the EU and distributed by Athenian Brewery so that doesn’t tells me much more. I won’t lie to you; I bought this because it was cheap. It was 0.44 euros. There’s a promising golden colour and it tasted a lot like a slice of liquid bread but it’s all a bit soapy and bland.

13. Kaiser Pilsner. The best selling pilsner in Greece according to the Carlsberg website. I believe it might be the Greek incarnation of this beer (only brewed at the hallowed Mythos Brewery), but I might be wrong. And you know what? I thought this little can was good. A fizzy gold but this time I smelt something that almost definitely suggested some hops had been nearby. I got a little bit excited by this. It had this really subtle tangy orange character, a dry floral breeze and a good body. And check out the (side of the) glass. I bought myself a Mythos glass for 0.80 euros - bargain!

14. Alfa. Another Grecian brew. It’s got that now familiar golden colour (a sun setting over a field of barley…), it’s bready, pale, clean and crisp with the occasional spritz of lemon. It’s pretty good but it’s no Mythos.

15. And talking of Mythos… Here’s another! This time it’s accompanied by Hops & Glory. I enjoyed many moments of sitting in the sun, glugging beer and reading Pete Brown’s words. A real pleasure.

16. Lunch time and more food and beer pairing. This is the first of the Craft beers which I managed to find at a supermarket out of town (it was over a kilometer away in stifling heat but well worth the trip – the shop also had a surprising selection of imports including wheat beers and a few Belgians, including Leffe). This was the Craft Red Ale paired with (very classy I am) moussaka from a can. The moussaka was surprising edible (just edible, nothing more) although a little strange and the beer was nutty, bready, edging towards singed with a dry berry-like finish. The beer was okay but I’m not a big fan of red ales. What’s their purpose?

17. Onwards to Stadelbrau. Brewed at the Macedonia Thrace Brewery so another Greek beer. This was pale with a nose of apples, white bread (more bread, seriously, it’s bloody everywhere) and a vague nod towards distant citrus trees. It’s smooth and easy drinking with malt first then a bready finish.

18. (Probably) Mythos!

19. Now this one annoyed me. Ignore the beer in the glass for a minute and forget that you’ve seen it. Now study the can and tell me what you’d expect from a 7% Polish beer called Tatna, with the word Mocne (whatever that means but in my mind it was saying mocha, it was saying I’m blacker than the night sky) underneath. I had every hope that it was going to be a fine Baltic porter, but no. It was a 7% lager and 7% lagers do nothing for me. I’ve never had one that doesn’t taste like a brutal upscaling of a 5% lager. This was a little cakey but over-strong in my opinion.

20. Craft Athens Lager. I had high hopes for this to be excellent but was left wanting. It’s not bad at all, I just wanted more. It’s got that classic barely-there nose. A crisp and clear body and a not-too-sweet flavour, it was just missing something.

21. Can you believe I nearly forgot to take a picture of this one?! It was an Alfa with dinner. I don’t remember what I ate but the plate’s empty so it must’ve been good.

22. Remember this blog post asking about which bottles to take? Well I took a BrewDog Hardcore IPA with me figuring that the massive dose of hops with smash my hop cravings to pieces and scare them away for a week or so. I was wrong. You know what, I only had one occasion where I was craving a hoppy beer and all I wanted was a pint of Hophead or Marble Pint. Anyway, I took the beer so I drank the beer when I finished Hops & Glory. It didn’t satisfy my thirst because it was too full-bodied and bitter for the 100 degree heat. It’s still a damn good brutish British IPA though.

23. The dream team: Mythos and a gyros. This picture essentially sums up the answer to the question: Why is Greece awesome?

24A. I saw this side of the can first and picked it up because it’s brewed in Greece. I then turned the can around…

24B. Tasting notes, as already semi-described to my twitter friends: A sexy gold, winking bubbles at the rim, it glides over the tongue and has a real nice bite. I could manage quite a few Verginas. (Sorry everyone but I simply couldn’t resist the gratuitous innuendo)

25. Hello Mythos and hello Malcom Gladwell. That guy can write.

26. And hello sailor! Sorry for including this everyone. I did take a ‘regular’ shot of this beer but this was so much funnier. I’m thinking of using it for my profile, what do you think? Does it say the right thing about me? Creative but not mental, fun, cool, the kind of person you’d like to sit down for a pint with… (And no I don’t mean a profile for a gay dating agency and no I don’t usually wear that stuff, I just happen to look especially camp right there).

27. Me and Lauren waiting for dinner posing while some Greek waiter tells us to smile. There’s a beer on the table and I bet you can’t guess what it is?!

28. I also took a BrewDog Coffee Imperial Stout. I really love this beer and its ever-swaying blend of earthy coffee, bitter dark chocolate, citrusy hops and woody oak. I bought a Greek chocolate bar which was kind of odd. The beer went down well though.

29. Mythos with a sexy view.

30. Alfa with a sexy view.

31. Mythos with a sexy sunset. The sunsets on Santorini are amazing and I just had to buy a beer to go with this one.

32. Another Kaiser. This one with Sam Calagione’s Brewing Up a Business while sitting by the pool. You know what this beer, at this time, made me feel? I felt very late-80s drinking beer from a 330ml can. I don’t know why I felt like this as late-80s I was only just starting school but still, that’s what effect it had. I just wanted to drink can after can of this stuff, crunching it in my palm and tossing it aside. I felt cool and it made me want to start smoking.

33. Mythos Red. Another red. Why do the Greeks like their red beers? This was a bit toasty, a bit fruity, a bit nutty and a bit nothingy.

34. Craft Pilsner and we’re near the end. This was probably the best beer I had all holiday. A pale gold, lots of little bubbles, a creamy-fluffy head and fruit – orange, pineapple, blackcurrant and raspberries. There was more to this beer than any of the others with fruity high notes, biscuity malt and crisp hops at the end. I wish I bought a couple more of these.

35. And the final beer. Of course it’s a Mythos. As you can tell from the picture, the beer has taken its toll.

So there we are, my holiday in beer (I also drink a fair few litres of very good local Santorini wine but I won’t even go there…). There’s only one thing left to do, which I haven’t done yet: talk about Mythos. I saved it up and I didn’t write my own notes until the very end of the holiday because I wanted to really understand what made it stand out above the others for me, and I worked out what it is: it’s the fuller body and the extra sweetness compared to the other beers. That’s what makes it so eminently drinkable. I compared it to so many others but this was still the one that I could recognize at first sip - it’s that instant sweetness at the tip of the tongue followed by the mouth-filling beer and the quench at the end. But it goes deeper than that too. The sweetness that it has just seems to work with the hot, salty air. And I think it has a few specific jobs: to kill a thirst, to entice hunger, to relax the drinker. It perfectly suits Greece. It’s for drinking quickly, not slow. It’s best ice cold in a frosted glass. It’s not the best beer in the world but it’s the best beer for drinking in the hot Greek sun.

It was a bit of a lager overload but that’s all I wanted to drink while I was there. I was expecting hop cravings but they only popped up for a few moments on one day. The rest of the time it was lager, lager, lager.

Yes, this took bloody ages to put together and upload.


  1. Is that all you had? ;)

    I just couldn't take it seriously after 26 :D

  2. Nice one, theres a little tea shop near me in the middle of the moors that sells mythos although its not quite the same, even on a hot summers day, it needs to be in greece!

    not see the mythos red before, ill keep an eye out for that if we get to greece in september!

  3. I had a few sublime pints of Mythos last year in Corfu and the frosted glasses definetly helped!

    There was actually a small micro brewery being set up just oustide San Stefanos in Arillas, although when I was there it was still a work in progress.

    like your reading choices - Sam Calagione and Gladwell have also accompanied me by the beach during my last few trips.

  4. I was taking notes. Greece = Mythos. But seriously, it looks like you had one hell of a time there. And that was a good follow-up to the beer geekery post. (Sadly, I relate to that one on way too many levels)

  5. Barry, yes that was all I'm afraid. I would've loved to come back with 50-odd but the holiday would've been less memorable I'm sure!! And sorry about 26...

    Moggy, if you go in September I'll point you to where to buy the best beers from! The Red is okay, I had it last year too. I'm not a huge fan though and I don't really understand red ales.

    Hey Andy, not heard of the micro in Corfu... The frosted glass works a treat, even if it only lasts a few moments before completely melting!

    ESD, I had a great time and you're right about it following on well - I hadn't thought of that! It turns out that I am a serious geek, doesn't it?!