What It's Like to Spend Your Life Brewing Craft Beer on a Greek Island
Alexandros Kouris has your dream life.
Alexandros Kouris speaks a lot about alchemy. As the owner and founder of the Nissos Brewery on the island of Tinos, he’s not just talking about the rich golden colour of his beer; he’s talking about what makes a craft beer great.
“I can’t explain it chemically to you, but there’s an alchemy,” Kouris laughs. “Happy people make good beer.”
Nissos Pilsner has made it to the Australian craft beer market all the way from the sunshine and aquamarine seas of the Greek island of Tinos, 6 nautical miles from Mykonos. It’s a beer craft drinkers will be drawn to not just for its unique taste (a citrusy, refreshing and full-bodied pilsner) but as a winsome example of the craft beer ethos.
Nissos beer is brewed and bottled in small quantities by 15 local Tinos islanders, using purely natural, traditional and slow brewing processes, as well as Greek ingredients. For Kouris, this local authenticity is very much the appeal, and why he believes the resurgence of craft beers is well deserved.
“I’m a great believer that food and drink should be — it’s not the product, it’s not the commercial product — it’s part of our culture,” says Kouris. “So if I take from your hands the production of food and drink I take part of your identity ... I come here with my beers and taste yours and I take back yours, this is beautiful, this is human. And this is human skill and it keeps the world alive.”
Kouris entered the world of craft beer following the Global Financial Crisis, when he decided to sell off what companies he had. He says that while everyone in Greece was afraid and taking money out of the country, he wanted to do the opposite.
“I loved beer. I followed the craft beer movement all around the world," he says. "I love the Cycladic island of Tinos and I said, putting the two together that could create a very good business, one that will make me happy and one that will, I hope, inspire people in Greece.”
It seems his gamble has paid off. Last year the small brewery came away with silver in the Pilsner category at the European Beer Competition (which Kouris describes as the “Oscars” of beer competitions) against 1613 other international beers. Impressive, given the brewery was only 17 months old and produces only one beer, but hardly surprising for a pilsner whose herbal and citrus aroma and crispness tastes like a liquid advertising campaign for life on a Greek isle.
This year, the taste and story of the beer has been discovered by Nick Manettas (of Nick’s Seafood Restaurant), who has embarked on a successful campaign to bring Nissos to the Australian market and into your craft beer-ready glass.
“It’s very distinct, it’s very full-bodied as a pilsner and apparently it’s very good, people love it,” smiles Kouris. “And you know, this is alchemy.”
You can find Nissos on exclusive release to all of the Nick’s Restaurant and Bar Group venues before it begins wider distribution to a pub near you over the next year. So keep your eyes on your craft beers and a Greek island shanty in your heart.
Published on April 23, 2015 by Elise Newton