Lucky then that I have friends who can help out as guest bloggers – Alex Serezis is a Greek beer lover, trying as best he can to trace imports and micros in the Athens area. Things seem to be improving, here is his report:
The first beer store in Athens is a reality since Saturday 31/1/2009 . The place is called Beer Factory and it is located in the Northern suburbs of Athens, near a metro station about 15′ away from the center of Athens (Syntagma Square).
I arrived a bit earlier than the opening so that I could take some pictures while the store was empty and had the chance for a quiet look around.
I was positively surprised when I saw the place since I expected it much smaller and with less quantity.
The first floor contains the main store. There are some wooden shelves on the left and right walls that have most beers neatly arranged. Wooden tables and shelves in the middle have more beers and gift sets.
There is also an old wooden bookshelf that has books, DVDs, clothes and other breweriana. Many shelves contain a lot of glasses, mugs and Steins and there are even a few growlers present.
There is a second floor that has been transformed to a small beer bar that will be used for gatherings, events and for the Beer Club they plan to launch (no details given yet). The bar looks nice and there is an installation for draft beer. However the place would benefit from a wooden floor and ceiling as it looks kind of “cold” now. There are some bottles from all over the world and some old plates and wooden décor on the wall.
There is also a third floor that is being used for their offices and some storage facilities.
The selection is quite big for Greek standards. I would estimate the total number of labels at the opening at about 200 or maybe more (silly me I forgot to ask). Nothing over the top or very rare though. Apart from almost all imported beers on the Greek market , I found some new labels from the Greek micros as well. Most of them were German with an emphasis on Bio (organic) beer. I also noticed 3 Schorschbock beer (very strong bocks 13-16% ABV) in 2 different sizes and in gift boxes as well. The stronger beers tend so sell well in Greece.
A nice surprise was the presence of some US beers (Anchor and Flying Dog) and the absence of crappy Macros (Bud, Miller, Heineken, Amstel, Mythos, etc.). The imported beers in Greece are mostly Belgian. All major trappist and abbey ales are here (no westies though).
A wide range of Eastern European beers can be found as well. Baltika 6 Porter and Zywiec Porter are probably the most noticeable ones.
Another nice touch was the presence of larger bottles (since they usually don’t sell that well in Greece) ranging from 750ml – 3l ! A lot of nice gift boxes were also present. I bought a set containing 4 Tripel Karmeliet and their very nice big glass.
At the opening they had some waiters and waitresses in Bavarian outfit offering free beer (some HB, Kozel and Corsendonk) along with some cheese and cold cuts.
The price of imported beer in Greece is in general rather high (especially in comparison to some other European countries and given the fact of the low basic income of Greece), however most of them where cheaper than the liquor stores where you could find some of these beers. The main reason for that is the high profit the importers try to make.
Overall the impression was positive. I would like to see more variety and less ordinary labels. I hope that the place will be well received and in the future we will see more efforts like that.
Amen to that. The beer market seems to be improving in many countries. Let’s hope for a few more quality brewers in Greece, too!