Cypriot Beer: Leon and Keo4
One of the brilliant advantages of being a beer reviewer is that you are easy to buy for. So naturally, my parents just knew to look out for new or interesting looking locals beers whilst in Cyprus recently.
They did very well – two large bottles locally brewed ales (and as far as I can tell the only Cypriot beers available) – Leon and Keo were my holiday gifts, so naturally a proper Cypriot beer tasting was in order.
First up, Leon beer; an all-malt beer that was the first to be brewed on the Island from 1937. The scent is rather unusual, but distinctly reminded me of fresh pea-pods and poured similar to a typical run-of-the-mill lager: lively and a pale amber in the glass.
In the mouth, the liveliness caused an abrasion on the tongue that is usually experienced by drinking bog-standard lagers. Unfortunately, there was just nothing in the beer to differentiate from anything I could have picked up from the multipack section of a supermarket. The taste was somehow hidden by the invasive texture on the tongue, whilst the 4.5% ABV was also lost amongst the chaos. It is hard to find anything positive to say about the taste and flavour of this beer.
By contrast, Keo provided a much more interesting scope. I remember enjoying this brand when I visited Cyprus some years ago; it was ubiquitous amongst the tourist bars and was quite an enjoyable pint in the balmy heat of a Cypriot autumn.
The white-wine colour beer look very pale even for a lager, whilst the nose gives surprisingly honey-infused notes with a citrusy tinge. Compared to the onslaught of Leon, Keo is very light in the mouth with the slightest of carbonisation.
Flavour-wise, however, the suggested sweetness from the honey aroma is present, but not in an over-the-top sickly way. It has a lovely balance, without any real sign of bitterness and the smoothness of the mouthfeel complements the silkiness of the flavours brilliantly. In the throat too, there is no hint of carbonisation as the liquid glides down with barely a hint of attention.
The brilliance of sampling different beers from around the world is that you never quite know what you are going to get. After turning my nose up at Leon, it could have been possible for me to consider Cyprus as something of a brewing wasteland. But Keo didn’t let the island down.
Although I would consider this to be something of a lager, it would appeal to any ale drinker who enjoys the honeyness of sweeter beers (Holt’s excellent Humdinger springs to mind). If you ever see Keo in an import shop of some description, I would highly recommend giving this a try. If Leon happens to grace your local shelves, buy a Carling – the effect is the same.Tags: bbq beer, carling, cypriot, cyprus, honey, keo, lager, leon