Thursday, 1 December 2016

Cyprus. Aphrodite's birthplace and Brewery.

Most forays to the popular beach hotspots of Europe do not, usually, include a visit to a brewery producing “traditional” real ales. Reasonable local keg, bottles, cans and sparse offerings of craft beers are possible to find, and in the hot, arid and sunny climate a cool local beer, usually lager in style, seems to suffice the quenching of the thirst, although a repeat performance with your chosen tipple, in the cooler, damper breezes of home after finding your favoured holiday beer in a local supermarket, almost always ends with disappointment. So, where is this blog posting heading? Well, back in September, we flew off to our destination of choice, armed with fond memories of previous beery offerings, and a promise to visit a proper Real Ale brewery which has been highly rated by many since it opened only a few years back. So, here goes. A review of one of Europe's most beautiful and enchanting islands. Cyprus. Also the home of Aphrodite's Rock Brewing Company.
Cyprus. Reputed to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love. A beautiful Island in the Eastern Mediterranean. Hot, sunny and unbroken blue skies greet the visitor. What a place to spend your holidays. Cyprus is one of our favourite destinations, and this year we were able to re-kindle our love of the island, the first time for about 10 years. Previously, we had stayed on the east coast, around Protaras, but this time the West coast beckoned, so we decided to try Paphos, a city of archaeological interest, on our return. Following our flight, we arrived rather late on a September Sunday at our base for the next two weeks, Tasmaria Apartments, on the main road through the small, but vibrant, city. The busyness of the road initially came as a shock, but with the hotel sitting slightly back from the new dual-carriageway, and our room being at the back, we can honestly say we didn't get bothered by the traffic in the least. We were soon booked in, and then decided to stretch our legs, all of the 20 yards to Tramps Bar, right next door. This is a very friendly bar, which always has a eclectic mix of locals, usually ex-pats, and tourists. Alongside the KEO, Leon and Carlsberg, I did espy a pump proclaiming Everard's “Beacon”, which I later found out was brewed under licence on the island. Hey!, it was holiday time, around midnight and we were still basking in 20° C of warmth, so we chose the Leon. I will reflect on the more usually served beers of Cyprus later, but I will admit that a cold Leon on a warm night, after quite a few hours travelling via car, plane and coach, was more than welcome. Over the next couple of days, many a bar in Paphos was discovered (there are plenty, and they are not hiding) and the KEO and Leon were partaken of. I did have the phone number of a friend, an ex work colleague of mine, Geordie, who had retired to these parts a couple of years back, and having promised to have a drink or two with him if we were ever to re-visit Cyprus, I gave him a quick text on the Wednesday evening. The plan was for Jane to do some retail therapy on Saturday afternoon at the local Mall, whilst I would meet up with Geordie, over the football, sink a few beers and have a good old yarn about what we had both been up to over the last biennial period. This is were I had underestimated the generosity and friendship of my old work mate.
Lynne & Geordie.
Best tour guides on
“Where are you two stayin', Fozzy?” was the reply to my opening gambit of football and drinks.
“Can't make it on Saturday. Charity raft race for the local Animal Welfare Shelter (PAWS). I'll pick you and Jane up tomorrow, and give you the Grand Tour......”. And so it was. The very next day, Geordie, his lovely wife, Lynne, and Dexter, the dog, pulled up outside our hotel at the start of one of the most wonderful holiday experiences we have ever had. We visited bars nestled in places even the locals would need reminding of, with views which would bring a tear to a glass eye they were so beautiful. Churches, beauty spots, secluded beaches and even shipwrecks, among other things, were shown, and lapped up gratefully by us. The tour was more than Grand, it was Magnificent. All in all we enjoyed their company for the best part of 7 days of our 14 on the island, and never tired of it once. We cannot thank them enough, and were very humbled at their insistence to “stay over” for a couple of nights at their homestead in Mandria, which allowed us to explore so much more of this area. Sunday, after a trip around Pissouri (Aphrodite's Rock, and all) and the areas nearby, saw us eat at the brilliantly situated Bonamare. With a great view of the local airport, and one of the best positions for dramatic sunsets in the area, it is a great bar to visit. That evening, after some of the largest food portions we have both ever experienced at a pub, and washed down, back at Mandria, with a bottle, and a bit of a quite reasonable brandy ( described as “9 Euros a litre bottle from the Bulgarian shop. Asda price!”), Geordie kindly insisted to pick us up and run us out to the Aphrodite's Rock Brewery, in Tsada, the following Tuesday. What a Gent! It is not the easiest place to reach via public transport.
Up the Creek with a
So, moving on to Tuesday, we were picked up and, after a tour of the area around Tsada, we visited Minthis Hills Golf Club, which contains a 12th Century monastery on the course. Next stop was the much awaited visit to Aphrodite's Rock Brewing Company. On arriving, we were quite surprised at how busy this little place can be. We were soon shown to a table though, and settled down to sample the selection of real ales on offer. The choices are quite good, to be fair. There are real ales, ciders, wines and soft drinks all available, with brewery tours, drink and pizza combos, Sunday lunch deals, drinks, and food separately. We decided to taste the wares, and just have a spot of lunch alongside. To enable us to taste the full range on offer, I decided on a paddle of 5 of the beers on offer, served in 200ml glasses, whilst the other beers were sampled between us as pints. Our findings were as follows.

Yorkshire Rose. 3.8%
What a great Yorkshire Bitter styled beer this is. It is smooth, full bodied and has a slight floral hint to it. A touch of spice is also there, after the initial sweet, caramel and toffee opening. It would be as much at home in The Pennines as it is in the Mediterranean sunshine.

Lian Shee. 4.5%
I first encountered this brew in its bottled form, in the Harbour area of Paphos, and as much as I enjoyed it then, I liked the cask version a lot more. It is a creamy Irish Red Ale, with a big boost of malt and caramel at the start. There is a nice controlled bitterness towards the end. A really nice beer indeed.

Extra Special Bitter. 5%
This is quite like a Brown Ale, but not quite as sweet. It is driven by a malty sweetness, but well balanced and tempered by an earthy back taste.

Oktoberfest. 4.8%
German by design, but undeniably a beer crafted for British tastes. Again, a malt sweetness leads, but the hoppy bitterness lurks in the background, waiting to help in the final balance of this nice beer. There is also a slight, but noticeable, fruitiness, with just a hint of plums on the palate.

West Coast IPA. 6%
This is a good IPA. It isn't as punchy and “in your face” as some of the beers of this style, but the well hopped flavour is there. Just giving you a nudge towards the end of the initial mouthful. It is rounded in the main, but that telltale bitterness really allows this beer to reach new heights.

London Porter. 4.8%
The paddle beer today
I had heard good reports of this one, and was not disappointed. The beer sat in the glass rather proudly, with a fine and dandy creamy white head atop. Now, I have had drinks before that have been good looking in the glass, but have failed in the flesh, so to speak, but not this one. The aroma is of chocolate and roast malt and the choco-malt theme carries through into the main taste, with liquorice and a hint of spice sitting alongside these very nicely. Carob is listed as one of the ingredients, and possibly adds to the chocolate vein, dark iridescent colour and smooth mouth feel. Make no mistake, this is a great London Porter.

Rock Premium. 4.8%
A Bavarian styled craft lager, with a bready aroma and quite a light, subtle taste. There is a quite floral aftertaste, and the bitterness is not too prominent. A good thirst quencher.

Sorrella Fine Traditional Cider. 4.2%
One of four bottled ciders on offer from the brewer, and quite a reasonable tasting one too. I am no expert but T'other 'arf definitely enjoyed it, as the empty glass and satisfied smile proved.

What an excellent afternoon. Add to this some nicely prepared food and a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside, with dramatic hills drenched in sunshine, and I struggle to believe there is a better place to be to have a piss-up in a brewery!

Some of the
Refreshments for the balcony.
What of the other beers available on Cyprus? As I have mentioned, KEO and Leon are the local mainstream beers, with a pump or fridge full at most places. We did stumble upon a few other beers in the local Lidl, but these were only imports, although, probably available as staples. I have included these in my reviews as well.

KEO Pale Lager 4.5%
The most popular beer on the island, and has earned the odd award along the way. It was first brewed, in Limassol, back in the 1950's. It is light, with sweet malt shining through before a very slight bitterness from the hops. The finish is dry, with floral hints on the palate. To be fair, it is a quite refreshing and reasonable lager, and easy drinking. I don't mind it. It was usually my drink during the heat of the day.

KEO Light. 3.5%
The name sums it up really, it is the same as the original, but a lesser ABV value, a touch thinner in taste and a touch less carbonation. Nothing special, but not a horrid brew either.

Leon All Malt Beer. 4.5%
I remember drinking this on my first visit to Cyprus, and found it a touch darker and heavier in taste than I found this time. It was first brewed in1937, but the company, Photos Photiades Breweries, suspended production in 1962, after it acquired the licence to brew Carlsberg here. It was brought back in 2003, but I believe a slight tinkering of the recipe has since taken place. It has a smooth sweet malted flavour throughout, and a hint of grass in the after taste. Medium bitterness, and carbonation is not heavy.

Ermis Argus Hellenic Lager 5%
I found this in Lidl. It is light, with slight fruit aroma, and the taste is reasonably fresh. Quite highly carbonated, and a metallic backtaste at the finish.

Ermis Gold Hellenic Lager 5%
This was very much the same as Argus, but a much sweeter taste towards the finish. They are not classics, by any means, but at only a few cents for a can, they are worth a punt to keep one hydrated in the sun!

Perlenbacher Radler (Cloudy) 2.5%
Refreshing, but not anything more than a very lemonade driven shandy. Not a lot more to say, really.

Perlenbacher Weissbier. 5%
This was not so bad, really. It starts out with yeast and fruit on the nose, and leads onwards, with more fruit, some herb hints and nice yeast esters. There is a smooth creaminess in the mouth, and only a light carbonation. I am no expert when it comes to this style, but I did enjoy it.

Kamenitza Lager. 4.4%
A bottle from the aforementioned Bulgarian shop in Paphos, this was a quite malty brew, with a astringent bitterness in the finish. The aftertaste is a little sour. I suppose “acquired taste” sums this one up.

The Old Fishing Shack Ale and Cider House.
"Gone Fishin'"

There are a myriad of pubs, bars and restaurants in, and around, Paphos. We found our way around quite a few. You have the Tomb of the Kings' Road, with, Thomas's Jungle Tramps, Yiamas, The Green Corner, to name but a few, and the web of streets leading off, and the Old Paphos Town area, a bus ride or energetic walk away with its selections, then on to the famous Bar Street, just off from the Harbour is, well, full of bars. Most around here are much of a muchness, but if that's your gig, who am I to say otherwise? The Harbour has quite a few more up market establishments, and a nicer ambience, but no matter where you wander, you will find a refeshment station to suit your needs. One place that is worth digging out is The Old Fishing Shack Ale and Cider House, tucked just away from Bar Street. The owner has a terrific knowledge of his wares, and the selection of beers here is vast. There are beers from all over the World, and many rare ones and vintage Ales too. It is not a cheap place to drink, but a very enjoyable, and interesting diversion. You will be amazed at the collection.Off sales as well as bar sales. It certainly is not a cheap night out, though, with almost all the beers having to be imported, but carefully reading the “menu” can avoid you choosing a 100 euros plus vintage beer by mistake. We had four different beers in here, firstly I had a Belhaven Scottish Oat Stout, a lovely heavy stout of 7%, which had a nice sweetness that combines well with coffee and the bitterness of dark chocolate, Jane opted for Greene King St Edmunds Golden Beer, 4.2%. This is a straightforward tasting beer. No complexity at all. There is a slightly sweet malt flavour to start, then a pronounced full stop of dry bitterness at the end. We followed these with a Barock Dunkel, courtesy of Weltenburger Kloster, a 4.7% dark brew with a rich smooth fruity taste that has a fine vein of spiciness to it, and a nicely bitter-sweet finish, and a Fucking Hell. This beer comes from the Austrian village of Fucking, and, to be fair, is a bog standard lager. It is 4.7% and light, hoppy but, besides the name, not that memorable. It looks good in a photo though.

Brandy Sour and Ouzo
Ouzo, Brandy, Zivannia, and the various cocktails (the best Brandy Sour was at La Boite 67, whilst the best Ouzo Special was in the Rose Pub, both in the Harbour area) that just about covers our trip to Paphos. We enjoyed it immensly, and have vowed to return soon. We managed to get to a Mediterranean real ale brewery, and a beer shop-come-tavern , soak up loads of sun, ate like hogs and enjoyed Lynne and Geordie's rich hospitality. What's not to like. As they say on the Island of Cyprus “Yiamas”.
Well, besides the
Oh, that Everard's Beacon, brewed here under licence. It is the smooth version, and quality does vary, but find a bar where it is popular and it does make rather a change from the lager.

Cheers and keep it “Real”,