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What Is Greek Beer?

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  • Written By: Ray Hawk
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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Greek beer is a form of grain alcohol produced in the country of Greece by a rather small collection of local distilleries as compared to other beer-producing nations. Greek drinks in the alcohol category in general tend to be filled out by many imported varieties of beer, and local Greek beverages instead span a range from Greek wines, such as the popular white wine Retsina, to varieties of sweet coffee and herbal tea. The most common Greek liqueur that tends to overshadow local Greek beer production is that of the anise-flavored brandy known as Ouzo, and its anise-flavored counterpart to that is popular on the island of Crete, known as Raki.

The most popular types of Greek beer have historical or mythological names attached to them, such as Mythos beer, which was created in 1997, though the brewery that makes it has been in operation since 1970. It is considered one of only a few genuine Greek brews, and is popular both locally and with foreign visitors. Around 110,000,000 liters (29,000,000 gallons) of the beer were produced per year as of 2002. Another popular Greek beer produced by the Mythos company is Golden, as well as several foreign German beers made by the company locally, such as Kaiser and Henninger. The firm that produces Mythos beer also is the main wine producer in Greece and a major importer of foreign beers from such nations as Australia, Denmark, and Ireland.

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Mythos is the most popular Greek beer and is exported throughout Europe, Australia, and to the North American nations of the US and Canada, but it is considered a relatively new, light beer. Athenian beer has been produced in Greece since 1977, named after the Greek goddess Athena, representing wisdom, fertility, and the arts. While Athenian beer has the same alcohol content of Mythos at 5%, it has a unique apple and pear flavor to it. Marathon beer is even older than Athenian, being first distilled in 1971, and it has a mild citrus and spicy flavor. Zorbas was another popular Greek beer that was produced by the same company that makes Athenian beer, but it is no longer in production, and was said to have an aftertaste of rye.

One other small production run of Greek beer that is purportedly difficult to locate anywhere in Greece or other nations is the Alpha, or Alfa, brand. It first appeared on the beer market in Greece in 1961 and was discontinued for a time, but has since been relaunched and was being made as of 2006. It has a new more elaborate name of Alfa Hellenic Beer, which gives it a more familiar international recognition as a true Greek beer. It is considered a light, golden beer like Mythos that represents the authentic tradition of Greek beers in general.

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