Thursday, 6 September 2012

Review - On The Rocks Bar, Plakias, Rethymno, Crete.

Good afternoon,

      feeling better after my first nights sleep in the UK (and a beer or two in Sheffield, details of that to follow tomorrow), I though it would be a good time to review my "local" whilst staying on Crete's central South coast in Plakias, the On The Rocks bar. Here are a few words about the place that Wee Keefy and myself spent a good two hours or more in every night we were there.

On The Rocks is owned by Nikos, and has been open since 2006, which is when I first visited. There is accommodation upstairs, and inside there are two rooms, the front being a terrace overlooking the Plakias bay and the headland, rising between the old harbour and Souda, and behind is the all important bar, the music system, some more seating, and the facilities.

There are quite a few Tavernas and bars along the Souda road and all command spectacular views at sunset, back into Plakias itself and over the headland as described before, but OTR gains marks for being that little bit further away from the centre whilst not being too far to walk (for folks who, say, had 3 blisters, or something). The view past the many cacti with the billowing Greek flag being buffeted by the notorious Plakias winds in the foreground, with the orange red glow of the set sun fading behind, is fantastic.

It is, of course, very much about the beer. I know very well that they do cocktails and juices, spirits and snacks, for those who wish to "eat", but the real draw here is the beer. Craft brewery Pilsner (5.0%) brewed at the excellent Craft Brewery in Athens, is on draught, served in sleek, tall, branded glassware. A large glass will set you back €4.00. Craft Pilsner is a perfectly balanced, if perhaps not rigidly representative example of the style, and the perfect antidote to the hot days and raw winds.

Also available on draught is the rather less inspiring Fix Hellas Pils, a rather sweeter more widely available lager by numbers which I suppose at least isn't the ubiquitous Heineken or Amstel.

Better still, on sale at €3.00 are the full range of Craft brewery bottles, one of which I have studiously taken home to share with Davefromtshop. No bottled Pilsner, alas, but Athens lager, Weiss, Black lager, Red Ale and Smoked lager are available. The Weiss is a faithful example, there is quality red malt (but crying out for some U.S hops!) in the Red Ale, and the Smoked lager is softer but just as good as the average rauchbier.

Craft was started in Athens in 1997, (there is a link to their website here if you would like more info), and I first discovered it in 2006, in OTR in Plakias as it happens. Then, two weeks into my holiday, having drunk Mythos, Alfa, and worse still, Amstel everyday, the excellent crisp refreshing malt and yes, what I really believe is hop bitterness, was a wonder. I recommended it to a couple who started running (in reality ruined a perfectly good) taverna/bar in Elounda that same holiday, but they claimed it wouldn't sell as there is no "C" in the Greek alphabet so none of the locals would know what it was. They were closed by the next year. Seems the problem may not have been limited to the locals alphabetical radicalism....

Back to On The Rocks, the other draw, apart from the beer, views and Nikos' hospitality, is the eclectic mix of music. Varied enough to be interesting, but without being pretentious, chilled enough to be relaxing, without becoming boring - one afternoon session might reveal dub, breakbeat, a couple of hours of well constructed electro, Cretan rembitiko like Nikos Xylouris or even some ska. Its not loud enough to be obtrusive but still detectable enough to set the mood, as you relax with your delicious Craft Pilsner, watching the sunset.

Finally, there is a rather basic website for OTR Here which concentrates almost entirely on their rooms, and without mention of the jewel in South central Crete's bars which is their single Craft Pilsner tap - I say this because despairingly, I have found it ever more difficult to find Craft on sale anywhere. Fellow Blogger Student drinker claims here to have spotted it whilst on holiday in the Blackpool of the Cretan sea which is Malia, but visit Malia for a beer? That's far too high a price to pay!

Happy holidays if you're off, if not then best wishes anyway,  and perhaps I'll see you around in a public house or inn, soon.

Wee Beefy.

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