14 April 2006

First dispatch from the field

I'm in Athens for the next few days. Currently I'm collecting information on the standard beers hereabouts and I'll make a full report on them in due course. Yesterday, however, I visited the city's only microbrewery: Craft.

The decor is in the mock-industrial brewpub style, rather than the Anglo-German light-wood-and-hops motif. The beer is excellent. They do two fairly basic lagers: the pilsner is classic brewpub lager with that coarse, grainy microbrewed taste: backbone of the industry. Then they do "Athens Lager" which is a more refined, bittersweet, Austrian style beer.

Craft Red Ale is a Belgian-Abbey-style beer: aromatic, fruity and complex. The oddly named "Black Lager" is just like a light stout, sparkling rather than creamy, and full of the burnt caramel flavour that sets it apart.

The Weiss at Craft is a fairly good imitation of Erdinger, right down to the banana aroma, though perhaps a little lighter and softer.

My big find, however, is Craft Smoked Lager. As the name suggests, this is made with smoked hops for a real smoke taste: something akin to drinking a pint of smoky bacon crisps. It is marvellously strange and I look forward to finding another smoked beer to compare notes.

Craft, then, is a first-rate brewpub, and a real find here in southern Europe where beer is not taken as seriously as it should be.

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