Harley Zipori – On the Rock
I actually started writing a nice long blog post back in March to sum up the last year when I have neglected writing anything. My fault. No one else to blame. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say but kept saying to myself that what I had to say wasn’t notable enough to share.
I actually have a rough draft and will work on it again. Soon. I promise!
Meanwhile I want to share a discovery I made while visiting a close neighbor to Israel, Cyprus. My wife and I spent a bit more than a week recently visiting with friends who live there and exploring the island. Cyprus is a fascinating place, about half the square kilometers in area as Israel with less than a fourth the population. It has gorgeous mountains and a sea much bluer than anything I remember seeing here.
Cyprus has a long and complicated history and seems to have been political football for the European powers as long as people inhabited the island. Richard the Lionhearted is an important history force on the Island as was the Ottoman Empire. It all sounds so dreadfully familiar and serves as a good object lesson, at least for me, of how Homo Sapiens have the ability to fight over any piece of land they find.
As a Mediterranean island, Cyprus has a long history with wine. I’m sure the ancient inhabitants of the island brewed beer as did most peoples who grew the grains suitable for beer but today the wine is plentiful and very nice.
Beer is another story. Like Israel, Cyprus has breweries making commercial lagers, like Carlsberg, as well as local brands like Keo, Leon and on the Turkish side, Efes. I won’t go into any explanations of sides of the island. See the earlier paragraph and let’s just say nuff said about politics.
So we have a gorgeous island in the Mediterranean with beautiful scenery, great food, lovely wine and now, a craft brewery.
Our friends and hosts in Cyprus, Ian and Margaret, were aware of my fondness for good beer and volunteered to make an outing to a local craft brewery, Aphrodite’s Rock Brewery. The brewery is located in the hills above the city of Paphos and named after Aphrodite’s Rock on the coast near the city where the according to Greek mythology the goddess Aphrodite emerged from the sea. It is a very pleasant destination for anyone interested in good craft beer, and even those not into beer at all. The food is wonderful and there is a view and fresh air. The restaurant is built around lovely stone buildings and the atmosphere is set by the staff and owners who make you feel at home.
Yeah, I know I sound like an advertisement and I would be the last person to say I was unbiased, but if a place has that certain je ne sais quoi , why deny it. Pardon my French.
The place is run by Bill Ginn and his family and they clearly love what they are doing. You can read more about them from someone else who wrote about a visit to the brewery.
I like to write about beer. So let’s start.
The brewery likes to serve what they call a tasting paddle. This looks like a small oar with holes cut in it for 5 small glasses. In the US they call this a flat. Paddle is clearly more descriptive. I doubt there is an official term in Hebrew as craft beer pubs are rare but I’m sure someone has given some thought.
The “paddle” we received had the following beers:
Yorkshire Rose 3.8%
Lian Shee 4.5%
Alsfrankisches Dunkel 6.0%
London Porter 4.5%
In addition I tasted the West Coast IPA and the Rock Premium Lager.
All the beers were fresh, tasty and unique. The last is very important. You can brew beers with different strengths and colors without varying the flavors all that much. Each of these beers was distinct and true to its style.
You can read more about all these beers but the Dunkel on the brewery website.
A Dunkel is a dark German lager. The Aphrodite’s Rock Alsfrankisches Dunkel is said to be brewed in classic Franconian style. They also explained in the sheet accompanying the beers that it is made without the use of black or brown malts which does leave me wondering how they achieved the dark color. But hey, every brewer has the right to a few secrets. I rarely ask and I never tell.
My favorite of the ones I tasted was the ESB. ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter and is essentially a pale ale but more so. Whatever a British pale ale or bitter has, and ESB has more. Don’t let the word “bitter” fool you. The history of brewing in England is long and colorful so the terms they use don’t tell you much about the beer relative to other beers. Even a classic English “Bitter” is not as bitter as a lot of beers. A good Pilsner is far more bitter than your typical English Bitter.
So ESB is not really bitter and this one is in fact quite smooth and malty with a nice deep hops flavor without the aggressiveness that American brewers are so fond of. One of my favorite commercial beers is Fuller’s ESB which is sometimes available in shops and pubs in Israel. The Aphrodite’s Rock ESB reminded me of the Fuller’s as much as my memory will allow but it has been a few years since I recall tasting a Fuller’s ESB. Too bad I can’t find the Aphrodite’s Rock ESB in my local shop.
Sometimes people ask me what my favorite beer is. I think I will start telling them that it is my next one.