Coming down out of the mountains of northern Corfu, following the windy Arillas road, is a Resistance outpost. Surrounded on all sides by the Axis of Generic Lager, Corfu Beer sits unassumingly on a neat stretch of this remote road. Don’t get me wrong I love a Mythos in that whispering heat of a Corfiot summer, but today we wanted a little more flavour and also to find out what craft beer looks like on an island in the Med.
The core range hits all the right notes with a couple of dependable lager styles to keep the masses happy. Ionian Pilsner and Ionian Gold. Where the Corfu Beer team come into their own is in those richer, more complex beers like the Special Red, a 5% amber ale with a tinge of hearty malts and a fruity, hoppy aroma. Taking a hop and a jump on from there is the Bitter Dark. At first incongruous amid the heat and the terracotta roofs, suddenly you realise it’s just the way we’ve been conditioned. Actually the depth and flavour of a chilled porter can be more refreshing than any lighter beer when you’ve sweated all your minerals out during a day in the sun.
Having worked through the IPAs and their hefeweizen I got to my personal Best in Show: the Ionian Epos barleywine. This is truly what a barleywine should be – slightly spicy, dry raisins in the after taste and a respectable 7.5%. Very nice.
We chatted with Giorgos, Quality Assurance Manager (at a brewery… in Corfu… Best. Job. Ever) about the range, the brewery and craft beer in Corfu. The challenge for them has been encouraging locals into trying something different. Tourists will come and drink something different so the job is just getting the beer in front of them: distribution. But the tourists disappear late September and a brewery needs cash, and stock, flowing year round. Enter the standard lagers and then the lightly hopped (compared to many craft breweries’ outlay) IPAs. They are gateway beers and with the edition of the hefeweizen, porter and barleywine Corfu Beer are starting to push the envelope a little further.
Another exciting thing we learned: every year Corfu Beer host the Corfu Beer Festival! We watched some of the videos and it looks superb, with food, bands and so many people. Each year is themed in collaboration with another country and 2018 was the UK’s turn. Alas, we were going to miss it but with Thornbridge, Titanic, The Great Yorkshire and The Hadrian Border coming along it promises to be goo-ood. Definitely something we should all get on our travel calendars for next year.