What could be more refreshing than cracking open an ice-cold craft beer on a sweltering day? Here’s where beer lovers can drink local in Athens.
By Alex King
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Craft beer is no fleeting fad in Athens. Home-brewed ale fuelled ancient rituals like the legendary Eleusinian Mysteries, a riotous harvest ceremony in honour of Demeter and Persephone. More recently, a beer revolution has taken root in Athens, as craft beer aficionados shun mass-produced brews in favour of well-curated pubs and microbreweries. Some local beers are made within the city limits; others are produced by a roving band of Athenian ‘gypsy’ brewers, who take their recipes to breweries around Greece and release limited-edition premium batches. Here’s where we go for our favourite local brews and beer tastings.
Microbreweries in Athens
When Noctua opened in 2016, it was the only microbrewery in Athens. Iasonas Panagiotopoulos and his three fellow founders began as home-brewers, but dreamt of elevating Athens’ craft beer scene to the level they had enjoyed worldwide. In an old garage on Pireos Avenue, you can sink one of their beers in the shadow of the giant metallic tanks in which they are fermented. Noctua’s name derives from the owl of Athena (Athene noctua in Latin), the city’s patron and the ancient goddess of wisdom. Beers have owl-y names, like Head Twister pale ale and Night Vision dark IPA. Keep an eye on their Facebook feed to track their regular tasting events and open days.
In 2016, Noctua was the only microbrewery in Athens.
This isn't not just a microbrewery, it's also a museum and a lab.
Part microbrewery, part museum and part lab, Athineo is a bit tricky to reach (it’s beside the National Highway in Egaleo). But the free beer on arrival makes the trip worthwhile. Beer has been brewed on the premises since 1965, when Amstel was introduced to Greece by Athenian Brewery, a giant that makes Alfa, Heineken, Fischer, BIOS 5, Mamos and more. After production shifted to other Greek locales, the site was reimagined in 2015. The on-site museum traces the history of beer from Ancient Babylonia in 3000 BC, through to its arrival in Greece around the fifth century BC (then known as Kykeon and mentioned by Homer), and finally to the industrial brewing we know today. Sample Athineo, with its coriander and honey notes, and other thirst-quenching creations by master brewer Manos Barbounis, such as Pilsner with ‘spicy blonde’ hops.
Inspired by British pub culture, Fotis Anastasiou opened The Local Pub in Halandri in 2010 to deliver a homely, dive bar ambience to Athens alongside a wide selection of artisan beers from Greece and abroad. Seven years later, Fotis created his own Anastasiou microbrewery next door, aided by fellow brewers John Psimoulis and Peter Malichoudis. It supplies The Local Pub and sister pub The Lazy Bulldog in Gazi.
“We’re more of a brewery lab,” Fotis explains. “We want to have fun making beer.” The Anastasiou range comprises four core beers: steam lager, American pale ale, stout, and a fruity all-day lager, alongside specials like West Coast IPA, pumpkin ale for Halloween and an Imperial stout flavoured with cocoa nibs and vanilla. If you’re propping up the bar at The Local Pub, try stand-out local label Midnight Circus, created by Loukas Papaggelis and his wife Myrsini in their Exarchia flat (their One-Eyed Jack lager and Queen of Hearts red ale both slip down very smoothly).
Beer lovers have to put the Lazy Bulldog on their Athens must-see list.
Courtesy: The Lazy Bulldog
Where to drink craft beer in Athens
Brew Str., near Syntagma, is a craft beer mecca and bottle shop stocking an enormous range of Greek and imported beers. Some local heroes include Flaros with their four-beer-range inspired by American classics and Clepsydra (it means hourglass) who brew their citrus-spiked debut Just In Time IPA, on the island of Chios.
Barley Cargo has possibly Athens’ longest draft beer tap and an even bigger bottled beer selection. You’ll find over 350 different varieties, over 140 from Greek microbreweries and a sizeable showing of Athenian brewers. Among them Noble Men, by veteran brewer Pavlos Kotsidis, a noir-ish brand inspired by Pavlos’ love for gothic literature and Raymond Chandler novels. Red Grizzly American pale ale and Holy Strength Abbey Triple are two top picks.
Over in Pangrati, the walls of Berlin by Five Drunk Men are obscured beneath labels, bottle tops and beer memorabilia. They run original events like the barrel-aged festival, where beers are marinated in wine and whisky casks. Get your hands around a Strange Brew—a brilliant beer from a creative crew of Athenian brewers; recognisable by the punchy artwork of a siren called Jasmine.
Just five minutes walk from Monastiraki Square is Tales of Ales. Although this craft beer pub opened in late 2018, it has that timeless feel possessed by all good drinking joints. It is an intimate but lively spot to enjoy an impressive selection of Greek and international craft brews—with many on tap.
Athens now has lots of craft beer options.
Courtesy: Barley Cargo
Grab a bottle or two.
Courtesy: Po Boys
Here’s where else to enjoy quality beer in Athens.
Beer Time on the main square in Psirri is a great location to sip beer outdoors and watch the Athenian nightlife unfold.
Ermou Spirits, by Monastiraki Square, has a stellar selection of local wines, spirits and craft beers, perfect for a pit stop between sightseeing.
Po Boy's BBQ in Psirri stocks over 40 Greek craft beers to chase down their pulled pork and mac and cheese.
The Wee Dram in Ambelokipi is a friendly Scottish pub with an extensive whisky collection—as you’d expect—plus some great beers on tap.
The Red Lion is Athens’ original English pub. Founded by a Brit, American and a Greek, it’s a super-distilled version of Old Blighty.