It has been thousands of years since the precious fruits of the earth first fermented in a barrel, so as to become over time one of the most popular beverages in the world. It took a forgotten, wet loaf of barley bread to start fermenting for people to notice the process and later to evolve it. Beer, the world's most popular drink, made its first appearance approximately 5,500 to 6,000 years ago.
Mesopotamians were the ones who initially developed its preparation and later the Egyptians, under the auspices of Pharaoh, were those who improved it and exported it to the neighboring states and Europe, circa 2,000 B.C. In European countries brewing was a job for the women who made beer along with bread since the ingredients used were the same!
Quite often women who made good beer became eligible brides and obtained the respect of men. The homes of these women became the first beer pubs in history, the place where people were gathering to drink and buy beer.
At the beginning of the 1st century, production of beer passed on to monasteries, where monks had found an excellent drink to accompany their meals, even on days of fast or especially on those days, since after all beer is particularly nutritious.
Shortly afterwards, they started selling it. As a result, about 400 to 500 monastic breweries “blossomed”, in Germany only. However, as soon as the supreme lords of the time realized that profit was made, they taxed monastic breweries to such an extent that caused most of them to close.
THE BEER WITCHES AND THE GREAT DISCOVERY
At that time, the Scandinavians and Germans used a herb and plant mixture called “gruit” or “grut” during the preparation of beer, which contained among others ingredients anise, rosemary, berries and seeds. Some of these plants were poisonous and their extracts fouled the flavors of the beer, and sometimes even caused side effects to those who drank it. And so it was, in a superstitious era, that people started calling the women who manufactured beer witches (!) Many of them were burned, with the last recorder event going back to 1591. History has classified these women as “beer witches”.
All of the above changed in late 16th century, with the widespread use of hops for beer preparation and the establishment by law of the Bavarian Duke Wilheim IV in 1516, of beer brewing standards that listed water, malt and hops as its main ingredients. And just like that, beer became a daily chore, a monastic occupation and an art “shared” throughout the world. Beer variations are countless, and with an unparalleled taste its reputation is worldwide spread.
It’s worthwhile pointing out that an important discovery was made during excavations at the site of Skalia in Kissonerga: archaeologists discovered among other findings residues from a beer that was probably prepared during the middle Bronze Age (at the end of 3rd millennium B.C.). Since then, Cyprus holds dear her own private beer production secret. This secret is indeed the generous land that “provides” barley, hops and crystal water, all the essential ingredients to produce the finest beer.
THE LION AND THE WORLDWIDE REPUTATION OF FOTIADES GROUP
It was during the interwar period, namely in 1937, when the roar of “Leo” beer was first heard. That became a legend that quickly exceeded the island’s coasts. In 2013 and 2016, Fotiades' “Lion”, a business group that owns the most state-of-the-art breweries in Cyprus, was recognized as a top beer by the International Taste & Quality Institute (iTQi) in Brussels by winning the Superior Taste award, while competing with hundreds of other labels from around the world.
“Fotos Fotiades Breweries”, one of the two largest brewing companies on the island (the other is KEO PLC), has given credentials of quality and taste in beer production. In 1969 the Danish brand Carlsberg, No1 beer in the world at the time, chose this company to produce and bottle its product. It was the first time that the “liquid diamond of Denmark” was licensed for manufacture outside Scandinavian borders. Two years ago, in 2016, Carlsberg presented its Classic Edition exclusively in Cyprus, exciting all those who tasted the crafted version of the traditional recipe.
Besides, it is no coincidence that beer consumption skyrockets every year in Cyprus when the tourist season begins. The visitors of the island, as well as locals who are already in the know when it comes to the secrets of delicious Carlsberg and Leo's taste, try and become loyal fans of the top Cypriot beer. And as time went by, the local beer tradition became an absolute holiday “must” and a not-to-be-missed ingredient of the Cypriot Mediterranean summer!
“Leon” beer roared for the first time in 1937, and soon this roar would be heard far beyond the island’s shores.
THE MICRO BREWERIES OF CYPRUS
Aphrodite’s Rock Brewing Company
Beer lovers from all over the world have proclaimed Aphrodite's Rock Brewing Co. This is a family business that employs well-trained staff and highly experienced brewers from Great Britain and the USA, as well as local staff. What unites them all is the dream to create and produce a variety of beers and ales, such as “Island Beers” and “Artisan Ales”. Visit this brewery to taste these beers and take a free tour on the site!
Info: Polis Road, Pafos, tel.: +357 26101446
This brewery operates in Nicosia and is a staple of attraction for locals and tourists visiting the area. The idea was conceived by the four owners of Pivo and the brewery was built three years ago in a 1910 mansion in the area of Faneromeni, which was fully renovated in order to accommodate beer lovers. Beyond a Blonde Lager, their production includes Weiss beers and Ales, as well as some seasonal beers.
Info: 36 Asklipiou str., Nicosia, tel.: +357 22377088
Prime Microbrewery, from Sotiras in the free Famagusta District, started its own journey in the Cypriot market in 2012 and since then has managed to attract many loyal clients. A beer fully produced in Cyprus, it is made with natural products in a controlled, ecological environment, while the malt grains used are 100% natural. And if you require proof for that, all you have to do is ask the local livestock farmers who feed their animals with them after the beer is produced!
Info: Industrial Area, Sotira Famagusta, tel.: +357 23826130
Hula Hops Brewing
Hula Hops Brewing was established in 2015 by 3 beer enthusiasts in an effort to bring high quality craft beers to the Cypriot market, and was based on their own flavorful experiments. Two types of beer are being sold in Cyprus by this brewery: A classic wheat beer and an India Pales.