William Ginn (Aphrodites Rock Brewery)

Finally, after a number sociable visits to Tsada to sample paddles of Ales with guests and friends, I am sitting in the heat of the July sun with the director of the first brewery to open in the west of the island of Cyprus. Tucked away, just off the main road north of Tsada, Aphrodites Rock Brewing Company recently celebrated its 18 month brewing anniversary, although the build up to that point was a long and windy road! I spent some time listening to Bill, the business owner and head of the family business, as he explained how the brewery came about and educated me on the finer points of ale production.

Please, take in the Q&A below, and don't forget the short video clip above (apologies for erratic sound quality ...).

What path have you followed before arriving at Aphrodite Brewery?

My wife and I were living in Abu Dhabi, in the Middle East, I`m an engineer in the oil and gas industry by profession,the contract I had was drawing to an end, we were looking for somewhere new. We didn't necessarily want to be going back to the UK, so, around 2005-2006 we started looking for opportunities that might exist. We do have a history here in Cyprus, we'd be coming here for the last 15-20 years or so, and Andy, my eldest daughters husband, is partly Cypriot, so we considered to 'bring Andy back' to his homeland, whilst giving us an opportunity to start a new business. We investigated many options, but, fairly quickly saw there was a complete lack of variety, and dare i say, quality, of brewing here on the island, with existing facilities purely commercial. We began to investigate this project a bit further, and my youngest daughter qualified as a brewer from Sunderland University, and we started through the, long, process to obtain a permit to brew in Cyprus.

Irish Red Ale Stew

  • 1 Bottle Aphrodite’s Rock Lian Shee Irish Red
  • 1 lb of stewing steak
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pint of beef stock
  • 1 dessert spoon of plain flour
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Mixed Herbs

1. Open the ale, pour yourself a ½ pint to enjoy whilst cooking

2. Preheat the oven to 150°C/250°F/Gas mark 3

3. Brown all meat in a saucepan with the oil, remove meat and place to side

4. In the same pan, fry the onion on a low heat until softed

5. Mix flour into the onions to form a roux, slowly add the stock whilst stirring well until you have smooth sauce

6. Cook for a minute before adding some of the stock. Stir well. Continue adding the stock to the onion / flour roux until you have made a smooth sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.

7. Add chopped tomatoes, a slug of Worcestershire sauce, a generous serving of mixed herbs and seasoning to taste

8. Return the meat to the saucepan, Stir thoroughly and add the remainder of the Ale

10. Pop in the oven with a few baked potatoes 1½-2 hours, serve immediately & enjoy!

Your experience with the powers that be was widely reported?

Many people know of our story, the trials and tribulations of the Cypriot government, especially the government at that time, seems there is more englighted approach to entrepreneurial business these days, but it was very, very difficult. For the first three years, whilst we paid the rent, the rates, the overheads of the building and business etc, we were unable to brew due to licensing and other issues. Whilst we felt there may have been a xenophobic taste to our treatment, certainly travelling to Nicosia a few times a week for meetings that were myseteriously cancelled without warning, there was also the case that we were the first micro-brewery to get started into the process, so many government officials often didn't know how to handle us. We were requested to purchase and install a particular brand and model of flow meter (from which the duty would be calculatedd), but, this device was for big commercial equipment with very large connections, we only have 4000 litre storage tanks, so, we didn't fit in the boxes properly. Anyway, January/February 2013, we finally got everything we needed, and we started brewing.

What is your product line up today?

When we launched at the Kamares festival, and in the subsequent months, we had several beers which didn't quite meet the palette of the target market. So we have since revised those, and have now whittled it down to a relatively small core of five beers that really gives us a variety of strengths, colour, flavours, ranging from the more earthy English style bitters and pale ales, to the more powerful American style craft beers.

How important is water in the brewing process?

In times gone by, you could say that breweries would firstly choose their location based on the available water source, and secondly, the style of beers they would produce would be dictated by the local water source. For example, Burton on Trent (UK) has a very hard water profile ideally suited for bitters and pale ales, whereas Dublin and London which have relatively softer water, great for porters and stouts such as Guiness. Here in Tsada, we have a spring, it is very, very hard with an extremely high mineral content, so good for some of our products, but, for our pilsners we use a reverse-osmosis process to strip back the water, and then build up with mineral salts to emulate the water profile we are looking for. We can brew any style of beer here, and we take advantage of that, we are a small batch brewery, and unlike the big mass production beers, we brew 2000 litres at a time, which gives us immense flexibility to produce specials and seasonals around our core beers.

Do you use any local ingredients?

As per the Reinheitsgebot, we strictly only use water, yeast, malt and hops, the former being locally sourced as explained, but the malt and hops don't grow in this climate, and as such always imported. However, we do slightly vary that, although not for commercial reasons, but to add hints of flavour unique to Cyprus, so we include some local ingredients such as honey (Midas Gold) and carob syrup (London Porter), so, from that point of view i would say those particular beers are truly Cypriot beers!

Visit the Aphrodites Rock website

Geoff Dutch

I have been working in web development & ICT for small business for almost 20 years. When not in front of a computer, I enjoy staying active, like music, travelling and food! Born in North London last century, I lived in Pafos from 2006 - 2014 and since late 2014 in Limassol. Facebook / Twitter