The Greek Beer!
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, considered beer to have valuable medicinal qualities. Homer gives us a vivid description of how Alkinoos, king of Phaeacians, kept in his palace gold and silver kraters filled with wine made of barley (beer). Zythos, the greek word for beer, also comes up in texts of the ancient Greek geographer Strabo as well as of the ancient Greek historian Diodorus (from Sicily). The word comes from the verb zeo which means to boil and it appears that zythos was the name of an Egyptian drink made of barley.
How was the first modern Greek beer born?
When Otto, the first king of Greece, settled in the country in 1833, he brought with him scientists and beer specialists from Bavaria – his native land, with a view to boosting the domestic industrial production. Ioannis Fix was one of them. The man had learned the trade in Munich, opened the first brewery in Greece and managed to secure the beer monopoly until the middle of the 20th century. His brewery on Syngrou Avenue still stands in place! As a matter of fact, it is currently undergoing necessary changes in order to house the National Museum of Contemporary Art.
Another modern – for its time - brewing facility was set up in 1893 in Thessaloniki by Misrachi and Fernandez. In time, factory installations grew bigger and it successively changed name to Olympus Brewery and Olympus-Naoussa Brewery. In 1926, the Fix Company took ownership and kept it until the mid-80s, when it was finally closed down.
The perfect accompaniment for your meal
As soon as you try it, you will find that apart from being very tasty, the variety and body of Greek beer clearly differentiates it from the standard choice of “non-alcoholic refreshment”. This means that as an accompaniment to a meal it will pass the test with flying colours.
It’s true that beer has always been associated with fast food the world over; however Greek beer will most definitely make you reconsider! As it allows for more successful combinations with food than wine does, it will accompany many tasty Greek dishes and mezedes [titbits].
There are tasty combinations which bring out the flavour of beer, and beers which enhance the gastronomic relish of certain dishes. The following have passed our taste test:
• Charcuterie next to dark-coloured beers
• Fish and seafood or roast and grilled meat next to a pilsner or a golden lager
• Chicken next to a lager beer
• Veal next to an ale
• Salads and grilled vegetables next to a Weiss
• Mouth-watering ladera (vegetables or pulses cooked in olive oil) typical of the Greek cuisine, pasta, and hors d’ oeuvres such as eggplant salad will have a red beer as an accompaniment.
Last but not least, Premium beer is a special category in itself as it is quite a particular type with regard to taste, aroma, alcohol content, complexity, shelf life, and gourmet combinations. Usually an evening drink, it is consumed from autumn until the first warm months; it is the right choice of drink for a full-course dinner but you can also enjoy it on its own during a night out.