2012-09-13

A Beer Festival in Athens


I often wish I could write with a constant enthusiastic tone about places and events in this city. Most travel bloggers and writers seem to feel it’s their duty to be in a continuous state of admiration no matter what they write about. However I’ve made a very simple pledge for this blog, and that is to represent reality as faithfully as possible and to help separate the sheep from the goats. So, in this respect, this is post on the annual beer fest of Faliro is as much about …goats, as it is about beer!
"Giorti Biras" (Beer Fest) at the Athens suburb of Faliro

There is only one beer festival in the Athens area that has been running for 11 years now and that is the Beer Fest (Giorti Biras) taking place next to the “Peace and Friendship Stadium” at the coast of Faliro. The “Beer Fest” is nothing like what a beer enthusiast, used to attending beer festivals, might expect. No brewery stands, no tasting sessions, no industry news, events or discussions. In other words, no respect for beer!


The space itself used for the festival is an area very close to the coast (but with no view to the sea), full of sand, dust and cement and surrounded by rubble and a major artery leading to the coast. You pay around 8-10€ (depending on day and year) for admission to the grounds.

What you get is a number of tents rented mostly by local beer restaurants and beer distributors / importers, food stalls, with their characteristic smell of grilled meat, serving the beer restaurants’ usual fare (fries, sauerkraut, onion rings, sausages and other meat cuts) and a music stage with various local musicians (each day different names; different styles of music are mixed within the same day). In between them, there’s a large area of tables, chairs and benches where you can take your food and listen to the music. Beer is served in plastic cups…
Greek Dance troop at the annual beer fest, 2012

Greek band on the stage

People start rolling in at around 8 in the evening and the whole thing lasts till about 1:00 to 2:00am each night.

So, why would a foreign visitor go to this Athens Beer Fest? Simply, for an easy-going, beer-themed, night out, which would be somewhat different from going to a restaurant. Also, for the opportunity to try out a few of the Greek beers currently in the market as well as some other (mostly European: German, Russian, Belgian, British) beers available in the Greek market that may not be available where you live.
Pork bits cooked in a large frying-pan

Baltika (Russian beer) bottles
Fridges with Greek beer brands (Ionian, Piraiki and Volkan)

Grilled meat and tents
Sausages, fries, sauerkraut, mustard and onion rings...

An Athens' beer restaurant's stand

People sitting on the benches and drinking beer 

People sitting on the benches and drinking beer , with highway in the backgroun.

Prices: Beers cost 1.60€ / 330ml or more (that was the lowest price I noticed this year) – mostly 3€ and up
Time / Duration: Approximately first two weeks of September. From 7:00pm to 1:30am (in 2012, it lasted from Aug.31 to Sep.12).
Location: See map below. Almost(?) everybody goes there by car as the space is not easily accessible. If you insist on public transit go to the "Faliro"/"Peace and Friendship Stadium" Metro station (Line 1) and from there carefully cross the underground pass to go towards the Stadium and then to the left where you'll spot the festival's tents.




View Faliro - Annual Beer Fest map in a larger map


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