BEER - Zythos

Zythos – The Greek Beer

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, considered beer to have valuable medicinal qualities. Homer gives us a vivid description of how Alkinoos, king of Phaeacians, kept in his palace gold and silver kraters filled with wine made of barley (beer). Zythos, the greek word for beer, also comes up in texts of the ancient Greek geographer Strabo as well as of the ancient Greek historian Diodorus (from Sicily). The word comes from the verb zeo which means to boil and it appears that zythos was the name of an Egyptian drink made of barley.

How was the first modern Greek beer born?

When Otto, the first king of Greece, settled in the country in 1833, he brought with him scientists and beer specialists from Bavaria – his native land, with a view to boosting the domestic beer industry. So, in 1840, according to reliable sources, the first manually operated brewery was set up in Greece, to cater for the needs of the Bavarian officials and military men who were stationed in the country at the time. 

However, it is not quite clear who among Melcher, Fischer, Waweck and Seel was the first to run this particular brewery, as they had all opened up beer businesses during the 1840’s in Athens. Ioannis Fix(Fuchs) came to Greece in 1850; he stayed and worked as an apprentice in Melcher’s brewery which he bought from his heirs in 1866. He is the maker of one of the best and oldest Greek beers. The factory he built in 1893 was later enlarged by his son Karl. On the site of the old installations a newer building was constructed which still stands in present-day Syngrou Ave. Works are currently under way to house the National Museum of Contemporary Art in the premises.

Today in Greece there are 3 large breweries and 20 craft breweries and growing at a fast pace.