In a quiet quad in the Halandri district of Athens, not far from the Olympic Park, is the sort of place you never want to leave. It’s a proper pub, not a wannabe dressed up pretending to be a pub: there’s dark wood, old beer signs, beer glasses everywhere, bottles lined up, good beer on tap, TV tuned to sports, punk music adds an edge, but more importantly than the aesthetics, there’s the atmosphere, a warming and welcoming vibe as people sit around and chat in small groups, while Fotis, the owner, who knows everyone, pours the pints in between ordering the best beers he can buy (just check out their Facebook galleries to see what they're drinking). It's The Local Pub.
Greece doesn’t have many beer bars. It doesn’t have much of a beer drinking culture; at least not the type of culture we might imagine in Britain. Beer, to most Greeks, is seen as summer refreshment. It’s a cold beer on a hot day. And it’s a lager. They don’t really do bar crawls or anything like that. Beer is something to go with dinner, or before it. But it’s different in The Local Pub. People visit here for the same reasons we visit any beer bar around the world: to drink a variety of different beers.
In The Local Pub you’ll find beers on tap from some of the new and exciting Greek microbreweries. You won’t find these beers in many other places; Fotis orders them especially. He also orders bottles and kegs from around the world so that he can have a broad range of beers on tap. When I’m there Raging Bitch is on tap (at 6 euros a pint it’s cheaper than I’ll drink it in London) and they’ve just got a shipment of BrewDog beers meaning all the locals are sharing bottles of Paradox; but I’m not drinking those because I want the new Greek beers.
“No Hops, No Glory” is the t-shirt-ready slogan of The Local Pub and that’s definitely what the drinkers are interested in. Septem’s unfiltered Pale Ale is my first beer and it’s a perfect pale ale. So vibrantly juicy with hop flavour (Saaz, Citra, Nelson Sauvin), it’s elegant and light yet loaded with flavour. They also make a brilliant Pilsner (though most Greek drinkers here avoid lagers and pilsners like they’re made with cyanide or something...), this one has got a glorious hop freshness from Perle and Motueka. Then the Santorini's Crazy Donkey comes out. A big booming brilliant IPA loaded with American hops. It’s excellent. And there’s a lot more Greek beer on tap and in the fridges, chosen from the dozen-or-so small breweries and beers you can normally only find local to where it’s brewed.
The Local Pub is the best bar in Greece if you want to drink local beer (and you really should; there’s some fantastic beer being brewed out there right now). It’s also the best place if you want bottles and draft from around the world. Just don’t go looking for a pint of cold lager because you won’t find it there.
In Athens I stayed at the Civitel Olympic hotel. It's very nice and not far from The Local Pub.