Thursday, November 22, 2012

Greek Craft Beer: Septem Pale Ale

Arriving to Greece, it would seem that the craft beer scene parallels that of its Italian counterpart just across the Adriatic Sea. Very much so in the sense that when you think of Greece, craft beer, let alone, good beer is probably the furthest thing from your mind. But the tide may be turning here in Greece. After visiting a couple of small wine shops (wine and Greece definitely go hand in hand) and speaking with their owners, it would seem that the craft beer scene is definitely alive here. There are a handful of small brewers creating interesting and delicious craft beers. After hearing about several different brewers, the selection laid out before me ranged from stouts, to IPA's, to honey ale's, light and dark lagers, as well as the always drinkable pale ale. In fact, the microbrewery Septem (the latin word for seven and the number of creation), brews a beer for every day of the week. It is from this brewer I was first able to get my feet wet in tasting Greek microbrews by tasting their pale ale (which is brewed specifically for Friday).

Two things about this beer caught my eye, one: the fact that Septem decided to hop this beer with Saaz and Nelson Sauvin (Saaz is the famous Bohemian noble hop and Nelson Sauvin is a relatively new hop coming from New Zealand contributing white grape and tropical fruit-like flavours). I think that fact reveals that Greek brewers are not behind in the brewing world by any means and people here in Greece have available beers similar to what we'd find in current U.S. markets. Secondly, the Septem brewmaster is a former winemaker who decided to take a leap of faith and try his hand at craft beer. A bold move if I do say so myself. And to be completely honest, this beer is really damn good (not to ruin anything of the upcoming review, but I thought you should know beforehand).

As far as other Greek craft beers go I've only just scratched the surface. I've sampled two brews from Septem, and I'm trying to procure a bottle of Crazy Donkey, a Greek IPA brewed in Santorini. From what I've read it's Greece's first IPA and it's pretty darn tasty. Now, onto the tasting notes!

Name: Septem Pale Ale
Category/Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 4.70%
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
FG: Unknown
Malt Type(s): Unknown
Hop Type(s): Saaz & Nelson Sauvin
Yeast Type: Unknown
Special Additives: None
Bottled: Unknown
Bottle Size: 330 mL
Location Purchased: Wine Story, Athens, Greece

The Pour: Head is white and creamy. Good retention with moderate lacing. Color is clear golden yellow.

The Nose: Lots of Nelson Sauvin present here. It's got a slight spicy kick to it but loads of mango, passion fruit, pineapple and a little pear. As it warms the nose takes on a slight white wine character. Overall quite sweet and fruity.

The Taste: Bitterness is smooth and dispersed equally throughout the brew. Fruity, sweet and spicy initially. Midway through the flavour takes a turn towards the tropical. On the finish I'm getting some exotic fruits, a little pineapple, mellowed passion fruit and a little bitter citrus peel. Definite white wine notes distributed throughout. Carbonation is medium and hits up front. Bitterness is not in your face but noticeable. Body is medium, but it's quite crisp on the palate. This brew is definitely sessionable, I reckon I could definitely drink more than one. Simple adjectives to describe this brew: spicy, fruity, sweet, exotic, bitter.

The Verdict: As the beer warms up the flavours become more noticeable and I really enjoyed the last half of the glass. At 4.70% it's very drinkable. The complexity really astounded me; it's a real pleasure to drink. I like the tropical fruit overtones and light bitterness. The beer was very well-balanced and I reckon it would make for a good entry level beer for someone looking to get into the world of hops. For my first Greek craft beer I was pleased and would definitely love to try others. As far as distribution goes, I have no idea, but I don't reckon it will be available in the US (never hurts to ask your local bottle shop though). Keeping my fingers crossed I can get that bottle of IPA! Until next time, happy hunting, and Happy Turkey Day!

Thanks for reading!


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