Odyssey White Rhapsody – Sirens’ Call

Another bottle that was acquired from the local supermarket. Compared to the Dark Rhapsody, this was much nicer. Pretty much bog standard white beer territory though, in both looks and flavour.

Pale, with a slight haze. It would’ve been hazier, if I’d realised that there was some sediment stuck to the bottom of the bottle. It was overly sweet, and too heavily skewed to the spicy side of things, for my tastes though.

I’m not sure I’d bother trying to hunt down the others in this series. If you’re a ticker or completest, then fair enough. Otherwise there are far better beers to be had from both the supermarket, and the local microbrewery.

Μάμος

I spotted this in a supermarket in Chania, Crete. I was attracted by the indecipherable label, so decided to chance it. Once we got back to the villa, I discovered that it’s brewed by Athenian, a subsidiary of Heineken. You win some, you loose some.

It’s not bad, certainly no worse than Fix. It is, however, quite sweet; reminiscent of a German Helles. Other than that, it’s industrial lager all the way, pale and inoffensive.

The Cretan Brewery

Two years ago, when, we first stayed in Eastern Crete, I was thrilled to find out there was a local microbrewery. Located in the village of Zounaki, 25 km from Chania, it turned out that The Cretan Brewery, was only 6 km from the villa we were staying at.

We visited a couple of times that year; the first for drinks and supplies, the second for food, drinks and supplies. You could either buy bottles to take away, or they’d fill various plastic containers direct from the taps. I bought a lot of bottles.

This year though, due to COVID-19, the only option for takeaway, was plastic containers, which was disappointing. Unfortunately, like a lot of breweries, they’ve had to dump a load of beer due to lack of demand, so weren’t bottling, my loss.

We visited a couple of time this year, both times for food. My wife and I both had the Blonde to start with, it’s slightly hazy, with a good balance between malt and hops, a decent body, smooth and not overly carbonated. It’s pretty much perfect beer for drinking in the late afternoon Cretan sun. The kind of beer that you have to be careful not to neck in a couple of gulps, as it slips down so easily.

We managed to find the Blonde all over Western Crete; with our lunch in Mesostrato, Chania; our dinners at Elaias Thea and The Well of the Turk, Chania; I even spotted signs for it at a taverna on the shore of Lake Kournas. One word of warning though, it was listed as the draft beer at a taverna in Palaiochora, but what they delivered to the table certainly wasn’t what we ordered, looking and tasting like Alfa.

We didn’t just drink the Blonde. The American Pilsner was very pale, with a thinness to the body and flavour. The Charma Cretan Ale was slightly darker than the Blonde, but otherwise initially similar in mouthfeel, a touch maltier though, with a noticeable herby flavour at the end. Unfortunately the Pale Ale had just been replaced, so we didn’t get to try that this time, which was a shame, as I remember it being really good.

As for the food, I went for their Vegetarian Cretan Mezé, which had a bit of everything, plus a side order of herby wedges. I was so stuffed I barley had room for more beer. The kids went for one of the chicken dishes, the one cooked in the Blonde, they loved it and ordered it both times they were there.

If you like your beer and find yourself in Crete, I was definitely recommend hunting down some of their beer. If you’re staying near Chania, then I would absolutely recommend a lazy, late afternoon visit for some beer and food.

Elaias Thea

Sitting next to a junction, on a bend in the main road, you’d be forgiven for just driving straight passed Elaias Thea. That would be your loss though, as the food there is fantastic, and the sunset even better

We first visited on our holiday two years ago, happy to find it a couple of kilometers away from the villa. We loved the food, marveled at the view and drank plenty of Charma. They were never overly busy and the service was good.

They seem to have become more popular in the intervening two years, as when we pitch up for the first of our visits this holiday, you couldn’t get near the place. It turned out that a Christening celebration was happening, which took up about half of their exterior floor space. An English lady just in front, had arrived for a table of twelve, plus there were four large tables reserved for some other locals celebrating something or other.

Luckily, we managed to get a table for four, with out a reservation. If you decide to go on the weekend, you may want to make one, to avoid any potential disappointment. Given how busy they were, service was friendly and prompt and the food as good as we remembered. We over ordered and were all stuffed to the gunnels by the time we left.

It’s easy to over order and to over eat. To start, with, they bring you a plate with mizithra and tomato, and a basket of warm bread. Once you’ve finished your meal, they bring out a plate with four small portions of dessert, and some of the local rocket fuel. Like I said, it’s very easy to over order and to over eat.

On, our second visit this holiday, they weren’t quite as busy, but still had to move some tables around to accommodate us. Service was a touch patchy, we had to chase up our beer, which lead to confusion and an error in the bill, which was resolved with out fuss or drama.

Our favourite dishes are from the meze selection; courgette fritters, stuffed courgette flowers and fava. I found the aubergine dip too creamy and the deep fried cheese in pastry, with honey and carob, to be too jarring with other savory plates. Our daughter really liked her grilled chicken and our son his bourekh; which he left with half of and still couldn’t finish it at lunch the next day.

If you’re in the area, or driving passed on your way to or from Sougia or Palaiochora, then I’d definitely recommend stopping for dinner. Go for the food, marvel at the sunset.

Cretan Kings Mountain Beer

It seems quite apt to drink this while gazing at the Lefka Ori in the distance. Or it would, if they weren’t temporarily obscured by the first clouds we’ve seen in ten days.

As, lagers go, it’s nothing to write home about. However, it’s got more colour and body than your average industrial offering and more flavour too. Malty notes over come the light bitterness, to leave a pleasant sweetness lingering.

It’s all a bit too much for a hot afternoon, neither clean nor refreshing enough.

Perlenbacher Patronus

I picked this up in a Lidl not too far away from our holiday villa. Given that it from a Lidl, I assume that you could pick it up from almost nay of their stores. The main reason for buying it, wasn’t because I wanted a wheat beer, I just wanted a break from all the industrial lager.

It was inoffensive, which is probably the best you can say about it. Slightly bready, slightly grainy, slightly phenolic, slightly tasty, slightly quaffable. The kind of beer you don’t have to engage with, it’s there one minute, mostly gone the next.

Milia Mountain Retreat

Hidden away at the end of a 4.5 km single-track road, the last 2.5 km of which are unpaved, the Milia Mountain Retreat could certainly be classed as in the middle of nowhere. I first visited two years ago, when I took my kids on a circular walk that started and finished there. That day we had a packed lunch out on the trail, but the smell of the cooking, while we all had a cool drink at the end of our walk, has stayed with me ever since. I knew that on this years holiday, I had to go back and eat there.

I managed to persuade everyone that doing the circular walk again, then eating, was a great idea for a family day out. So we started the walk at around eleven o’clock, mainly as we’d struggled to get our teenaged son out of his bed. This meant that we were walking through the midday heat, which wouldn’t have been too bad, apart from all the tarmac. I’d totally forgotten just have much of Walk 6 from the Rother Walking Guide: Crete was on the road, instead of the trail.

The further into the walk we journeyed, the more my wife and daughter were cursing my existence. It didn’t help that I was navigating via the Strava route map from our previous walk, rather than the guide book. We ended up turning off the main road too early and ran out of path. Twenty minutes of thrashing around uphill in the bushes, brought us back to where we were supposed to be, but if looks could kill.

Just as well that the food back at the retreat was good, otherwise I’d have been toast. The drinks arrived first though, and it was hard not to chug my Lyra Golden Ale in a oner. I’m glad I didn’t, as it’s a lovely beer. Slightly hazy, as it’s unpasteurised and unfiltered, but full of flavour. Full bodied, slightly sweet, but not cloying with it. A tickle of bitterness riding the prickle of carbonation, into a thinish, refreshing aftertaste. I’d have had a few, if I hadn’t been driving.

The food arrives, my wife and I had decided to share some appetisers, the kids had gone with mains. Our fava purée on toast were almost religious, the fennel doughnuts intriguing and the courgette flowers were nearly gone in a flash. The kids both enjoyed their dishes, but when asked for a pithy quote, reverted to type with, “tasty”.

After our table was cleared and we were debating wither or not to have pudding, there was much debate, some white cubes appeared. Each cube was topped by some sort of preserve, quince paste and bergamot jam, being two of them. We have no idea what the cube were, or what they were made with, although milk was top of, the guess list. We should’ve asked, but our brains were fried by the heat, so we all just dug in and ate them.

As for actual pudding, my son and I went for “Galaktoboureko”, a Cretan desert featuring a butter sabayon, halva semifredo and thin sheets of puff pastry, to name just a few of the components. It was stupendous, and I had to try very hard not to lick my plate. My daughter went for bitter chocolate mousse, which came with strawberry sorbet, a macaron and some thin straw stuff that none of us could place; it was, also delicious.

I go back in a heartbeat, although I think the rest of the family would veto any sort of walk first. That would be a shame, as there are loads of walks to do, some of which are signposted for easy navigation.

Odyssey Dark Rhapsody – Calypso’s Desire

I’d love to say I enjoyed drinking this, but I didn’t. My overriding impression, was one of disappointment. Disappointment at the smell and taste of carbon dioxide.

Even after it had sat and warmed up for a while, as we played a marathon game of Uno, it still had a carbon dioxide tang to the aftertaste.

Having said that, it drank to its strength, full bodied and sweet. Hints of caramel, or toffee, stripped away by the carbon dioxide. Finishing, if anything, a bit on the thin side. Not one I would bother with again.

Fix Hellas Dark Premium

Unlike it’s sibling, Fix Dark, doesn’t seem to be available in discounted multi-packs of 330ml cans. This might give the impression that this is then some sort of premium product, it isn’t.

Just like it’s sibling, it’s an industrial lager, just wearing slightly different clothes. Gone is the golden hue and cereal flavour, replaced by a dark mahogany, bordering on black, with some burnt caramel notes.

I could be generous, and say there’s some treacle toffee flavour at the death. You have to wait for it though, as the lack of body and higher carbonation, strip most of the flavour from your mouth.

Fix Hellas

We’re often told that the enjoyment of beer is time and place dependent. The time is, on holiday, and the place, Crete. The beer in question, is the industrial lager, Fix Hellas.

It’s not something I would even consider drinking back home. It’s clean, slightly cereal flavour, and low carbonation means it slips down easily though. Perfect when it’s been clear blue skies and 32°C for the last week.

We’ve tried the other big brands, Mythos and Alpha, but we keep coming back to Fix. It’s definitely a time and place beer.