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Island life

KeoBeerGlassesOne of the reasons that there hasn’t been much happening on this web site for a while is that we’ve just been on holiday to Cyprus.  It was the first time we have been there, and overall, it is a very pleasant place – sunny and warm, very friendly people, most of whom speak English, and many things that will be familiar to British people, mainly due to the island being under British rule up until the end of the 1950s – they drive on the left, for example – and beer comes in pints, not half-litres like the rest of Europe.  Sadly, as far as beer is concerned at least, that is where the similarities end.  Yes, you can get imported keg beers such as Caffreys and Boddingtons, but I don’t particularly want to drink those beers when I’m in England, let alone when I’m on holiday – and besides, the “British pub” type bars where they are sold don’t really appeal either (OK, let’s be honest, it’s not so much the bars as the people who frequent them that don’t appeal).

I could only find two local brands of beer – Keo and Leon – and internet searches haven’t revealed any others (but let me know if you know of any).  Keo is by far the most widely available, and to many people is synonymous with beer – “a pint of Keo, please”, regardless of whether you end up with Keo, Leon or something else, such as Carlsberg.  Both Keo and Leon are 4.5% lagers, and pretty ordinary at that.  You could be drinking any of the insipid “standard” lagers that you’d find in any British pub, and neither brewery seems to produce a “premium” lager that might at least have a bit of taste.Leon_beer

Leon is the older of the two breweries, having been established in 1937.  However, they stopped producing the brand during the 1960s when they acquired the licence to brew Carlsberg locally.  They relaunched the beer in 2003, using the same recipe as when it was first brewed in 1937.  Keo has been around since 1951.  I never got round to doing a direct side-by-side comparison of the two beers, but my unscientific view is that Keo is the lighter, crisper taste, with Leon being just a tad darker and sweeter – but there’s not much to choose between them – they are a refreshing drink, but they both need to be drunk as cold as possible otherwise they both taste a bit sickly.

Cyprus is a lovely place, and a good holiday destination.  Lots of Brits have moved there either to live and work, or to retire to somewhere warm.  If you get the opportunity, go there to visit – but put your beer-buds on hold for the duration – unless you happen to like boring lager.

The Keo website is probably quite interesting, but I don’t know Greek!  Leon don’t appear to have a web site – there is a bit of information in this Wikipedia article, but I’ve already used most of it in this post anyway.

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