Charma Cretan Brewery: quality and passion in a great beer

Today we want to talk you about a special place, the result of its creator’s big love for the island and the beer: the Cretan Brewery of Charma Beer (in Greek: Χἀρμα).

We left home in a warm day and we arrived in about 30 minutes at the village of Zounaki, where the brewery is located. It occupies about 2000m2., surrounded by orange and olive trees. The day before the visit we booked on line (www.cretanbeer.gr) a brewery tour with beer tasting for 7€/person. It’s not necessary the reservation, but It’s better to do it if you have the possibility.

Next to the brewery, there is an area with a kitchen and a bar and a beautiful, large terrace where you can eat, drink, taste or only enjoy a moment of relax with an amazing view on the orange trees. During the brief guided tour, we learned a lot about the production of this cretan nectar. Above all, we have been struck by the brewing process that is as natural and as eco-friendly as possible.

The raw materials, for example, are of very very high quality and they often come from the local territory. The water for the production of the beer comes from the crystal springs of the Cretan White Mountains. The barley is largely greek. The beer that is produced is fresh, that is unfiltered and unpasteurized. For this reason, it retains all the nutrients from its raw materials as well as it has a very savory taste.

About the brewing process, it is environmentally conscious. For their heating needs, they use solar panels and burning olive pits, both great sustainable energy resources. For the cooling needs, they have installed a geothermal cooling system.

Thanks to the installation of brand-new, up-to-date equipment in 2015, they have optimized the water consumption necessary for the production of the beer, halving it respect to the traditional breweries. Actually, we have been amazed by this small and innovative business, we must say. The attention to detail, to the environment, to the quality and the customer are their distinguishing features.

At the end of the tour, we relaxed on the amazing terrace and we started our beer tasting: 4 fresh beer samples of 300ml each, accompanied with local Cretan mezedes (appetizers). The first tasting was the Charma Lager blonde beer, with its fruity and floral flavours… delicious!!! The second one was called Grape Ale or Wine Beer, because it is fermented with grapes from a neighbouring vineyard…really original! For the third tasting they served us the Pale Ale, an amber beer: the bitter beer lovers will be crazy about it! The last one beer that we tasted was a dark one, the Dunkel. Brewed in the perfect style of Munich, this beer revealed notes of chocolate and coffee.

So, this was our experience at the cretan brewery… did you like it? We think that this could be an “alternative” and funny way to spend a couple of hours during your holidays ;-).

Keep in touch!!

Phaistos: the most unknown Minoan Crete

DSCN4408We all know the story and legend of the Minoan palace of Knossos, King Minos and Minotaur trapped in the maze. For many, including us, this is and has been one of the first things we visited here in Crete, as it is only right! But today, we want to talk about Palace of Knossos’“little brother”, the perennial runner-up that nobody remembers, but that is going to blow you away once you get to know it! We are referring to the Palace of Phaistos, Φαιστός (Faistos) in Greek.

DSCN4410Situated at 60 km south from Heraklion and 140km from our house, this palace represented the second most important palatial city of Minoan Crete, ruled, according to legend, by Rhadamanthus, son of Zeus and brother to Minos. The structure of the palace (or what is left of it) is very similar to the one of Knossos, but what makes it unique and unmissable is its authenticity and its mysterious ambience. In fact, contrary to its older brother, Phaistos has been brought to light without any restoration work, and for this we are proud to give credit to the Italian School of Archaeology ;-). The excavations, led by the archaeologists Luigi Pernier and Federico Halbherr, started in June of 1900 and dug out the ruins of several palaces that have been protagonists of the area for centuries. As a matter of fact, the first palace dates back to 2000 BC. Two collapses and two restorations followed to this, due to earthquakes and other natural disasters. Since 1450 BC, for centuries, the city of Phaistos represented the nerve centre of southern Messara Plain. The last palace lasted until the 2nd century BC, when the city was defeated by the Roman Gortyn.

DSCN4422The fact that it’s not as known as Knossos, not surrounded by extraordinary legends and without any restoration, makes it more appealing to us, as it stimulates the imagination; besides, it is never too crowded. We really enjoyed the magical atmosphere you will find yourself immersed in once you open the doors of the palace. For instance, let’s think about the Central Courtyard, today a huge and vague open space, once the throbbing heart of the city and centre of any politic, religious, social and economic activity. When you are in the middle of this courtyard and you are surrounded only by an unreal silence and the few ruins of a magnificent and bygone age, it’s quite exciting to imagine that 4000 years ago that same land swarmed with people, performances, voices, merchants, rites, and that all around there were colonnades, porticos, balconies packed with people watching the daily routine.DSCN4412 Carrying on our visit, it was fun to imagine the king and queen washing themselves, combing their hair or having an argument in the Royal Apartments, or the crowd attending a play on the steps of what it’s said to be the first Theatre ever built in the world. DSCN4449All of this is fostered by the surrounding landscape: on one side the immense Messara Plain, with its olive trees, flowers of every species and fields of crops, on the other side the majestic and still snow-capped Mount Psiloritis (or Mount Ida), the highest mountain on Crete (2.456mt).

As if this was not enough to make this place special, there are also some legends around the famous Phaistos Disc, dug out by the archaeologists inside the palace’s storage rooms, and now stored in the Heraklion Museum. This disc of fired clay, carved on both sides with a spiral of 241 symbols similar to hieroglyphics, remains incomprehensible to this day and it is surrounded by mystery. Some assumed it was related to religious and magical rites, others even say it is a fake; the certain thing is that its interpretation is still disputed. timthumb

Besides the palace, it is worth to visit the wild beach of Kommos, which is 15 minutes by car from there, and where there are few remains of what it was likely to be one of the oldest ports of Phaistos.

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DSCN4473At that moment, we headed home, and for lunch (at 3.30 pm, like real Cretan people!) we stopped at this picturesque inland village, at the foot of the mountains, named Spili. In the pretty historic centre, surrounded by majestic plane trees, narrow alleys and fabled houses, stands the beautiful Venetian fountain, refurbished, with 19 lion heads that spurt a water considered by many the best of the island (we can confirm!). The simple and relaxed tavern where we stopped is called Stratidakis: a pretty terrace overlooking the valley, simple and very tasty meals, cooked and served by the elderly melancholic-looking owner. Approved :-)!!

And also today we can definitely say “Super day!”. As always, Crete hasn’t disappointed us…See you next time!!

Mappa Festo