A combination of hops from around the world infuse this easy-drinking pale ale with a wonderful balance of flavors.
Alcohol: 5.0-5.2% vol.
For those who choose the darker side, this malty concoction pairs with Belgian yeast for an ambrosia that’s meant to be savored.
Alcohol: 5.5-5.7% vol.
The flagship pale ale of Greece, this potent brew is tropical yet dry, utlizing a large quantity of hops to impart a welcome bitterness in contrast to the hints of pine, citrus, malt, and caramel.
Alcohol: 5.8-6.0% vol.
A Beautiful Place to Have a Beer
Our first feature for “On the Road,” takes us to a small craft brewery on the island of Santorini in Greece. This volcanic wonder is considered one of Greece’s most beautiful islands and as our plane circled the magnificent volcano and Caldera, I could easily see how it got that reputation.
Our destination was the Santorini Brewing Company, a small microbrewery. Entering the tasting room, I met Majda Anderson, one of the partners in this new venture, which started in 2011. The other partners are the Brewer, Slobodan Kruni, Yiannis Paraskevopoulos, owner of Gaia Wineries in Greece, and English shareholder and fellow craft brew enthusiast Steve Daniel in London.
According to the Santorini website, the group was interested in developing a “successful enterprise that hopes to enliven a heretofore lackluster domestic beer-drinking scene.” Greek wine has made a reputation for itself in recent years, especially in Santorini, where there is “more wine than water,” as the saying goes. In a “cold and uncertain economy,” it seemed an ambitious endeavor for this multi-cultural group of entrepreneurs to open a craft brewery
Three Kickin’ Ales
Santorini Brewing began with its trademark pilsner, Yellow Donkey, which Majda said is the most popular, “as it has been designed for summer and Santorini, and it goes very quickly!” Red Donkey, an amber beer that is a good match for food, has become much more popular. Crazy Donkey was a recipe that was developed by Daniel and Slobodan, and wasn’t initially a true IPA, but had some Assyrtiko must, the juice from the grape. Majda explained that they put the brew into their Crazy label. “When the Crazy IPA version hit the market in Athens, it was an immediate hit, so the label stuck to that recipe,” she added. The beer is very popular with North American visitors as well as Australia and the United Kingdom.
More and more locals are becoming fans, and keeping supply up has been challenging, even with the recent upgrade to a 1,000-liter brew kit. In the winter months, the brewery will make a special Christmas brew for the local party, and Majda said that Slobodan tried a wheat beer recipe once that was popular so they have registered the label.
When demand is at its lowest in Santorini in the winter, the brewery exports a limited supply of the IPA and amber to the US through Gaia’s distributor, Athenee Importers and Distributors. Most of that goes to the New York area, she said.
What the future will bring for “the little brewery that could” in Santorini remains open. Majda said she and Slobodan like to “have enough beer to keep as many people happy and satisfied as we can, and if they come to Greece to enjoy our beer, that’s not such a bad trade either!”
So in the foreseeable future, in order to try one of these donkeys, hop a plane to Greece and visit the folks at the Santorini Brewing Company!
Want to learn more about these daring entrepreneurs? Steve Daniel, a fan of “very, very hoppy ales,” opened a second brewery a year after Santorini in London, Rocky Head Brewery. His crafts are popular throughout London and Scotland.
Check out this video as Yiannis explains the difference between winemaking and brewing!
Images courtesy of Santorini Brewing