- Introduce us your story.

Hi from Thessaloniki! I am George from the Hoppy Pub. My full name is George Emmanuel Alexakis and I was born and raised in Thessaloniki from a working class family. I’m a father of two boys (5 years and 1 year old) and married with my other half Natasa. I’m the publican of the Hoppy Pub and co organizer of Thessaloniki Beer Festival and hopefully Thessaloniki Craft Beer Experience when all this madness ends.

I was always a beer fan. I loved beer as young guy but after many years working as bartender in bars I’ve started to read and learn more about beers. Greece never had a beer culture and my country was under a monopoly of Heineken for decades. Many generations grew up here having just what Heineken was selling as so called beers. This thing didn’t help Greeks to know how proper beers are. So me, as I grew up, I was always searching for new beers and new labels in Super Markets and liquor stores. In 2004 I’ve opened my first bar called IPANEMA bar at a small village that I live until now, outside of Thessaloniki, close to the airport of the city. It was a common bar selling alcohol, cocktails, beers and good music. By 2008 I’ve met a guy, Christos Mixos, that now we are still good friends, that he was running a blog about quality beer, called “Beeramatismoi” – which means Exbeeriments. Guided by him I’ve tasted amazing beers. New styles for me. For first time I’ve realized that beer has many different styles. This was so magical back then and believe me it is still so… After started the mail ordering of beers from bottleshops in Europe. Amazing and romantic years. I became a member of the blog. This was the time that I turned my bar into a beer bar “IPAnema beer bar”.




- Which were the first experiences with a “new” IPAnema?

First suppliers of craft beer back then were just 2 – 3 wholesalers that by accident had imported some beers. We had many classic Belgian beers, many German common beers and some Greek beers by microbreweries that have started to pop up by end of 2009, as Septem and Corfu. Also we tried to have some special beer by ordering just a few cases from e-shops from Europe. Many different beers in obviously high prices and selling them to our people here in really low profit prices just to keep on calming our thirst for new craft beers and styles. We used to sell these beers just 2 euros on from the price that we had bought them, in order to be affordable for people here. Romantic years, I just love them…


- And then came a start of legendary Hoppy Pub!

Having a beer bar in the middle of nowhere wasn’t a smart decision, especially when you’ve spended a fortune to built it. So the moving into the center of Thessaloniki was one way street for me. I found a rent that I could afford (that explains why our pub is so small, haha) really close to the trademark of the city, the White Tower. I promised myself that I will serve the best beers in Greece and this was the target and my goal. This is how the Hoppy Pub started back in 2014.



Hoppy was the first pub dedicated just to craft beer. It was the first beer pub having a cold room for the kegged beers. It was something really strange for most of the Greeks back then. But people from abroad were always there. Helping us through their good reviews. The reputation of this small place was starting to grow. The travelling and the efforts for supplying my pub with the best beers was and still is never ending. And believe me this is what keeps me alive and still feeling like the first day I’ve opened this pub. All the love and the pure passion for good beer that we are sharing with so many people, from Greece and all over the world, is really magic!


- What you can say to our readers about craft beer scene in Greece? Give us whole timeline...

As I told you already, the monopoly of Heineken (and then the secondary of Carlsberg) didn’t help Greece to grow a beer culture. Greece was a country of wine and distilled spirits. Beer was here like a refreshment (nobody can blame Greeks for that. Is Heineken and all the similar products something more than refreshments?? No way…) By the end of 2007, start of 2008 the first Greek microbreweries started to pop up. They where not something extreme but for sure offered better quality beers to the Greek market. Some of them are still operating and they are leading the craft beer movement in our country. Now days we have more than 50 microbreweries plus the contract brewers that provide us a really lovely range of beers in any style. Greeks brewers evolved. Some of them are really skilled. Some of them need more hard work and especially education about craft beer and for sure to get in touch with what is going on worldwide with beer. If you want to brew a good IPA, you have to taste many IPA’s until you realise what do you like and you want your beer to be. This is my opinion. You can not be a brewer if you are not a beer lover. Beer is passion, is a way of life, is aroma, is taste, is aftertaste, is feeling, is sense, is not just a product… If you want to have an opinion about what is going on in Greek craft scene, I recommend you to taste beers by Septem, Strange Brew, Anastasiou Brewery, Dark Crops, XAOS Brews, Kykao, Mykonos Brewing, Siris, Solo. These are just a few of the leaders of the Greek craft beer scene. There more of course but you will discover them for sure if you get in touch with Greek beers...







- Just a month ago it was planned to have a great time at 1st Thessaloniki Craft Beer Experience. But we all know what happened. How long you were planning this event and what you'll do now?

How long? Hmm, my whole beer life I was dreaming of organizing a craft beer festival like this in our city, in our country. I was so in love with travelling around in breweries and beer festivals of other countries. Meeting friends, meeting people, learning other countries culture, beer history. I was dreaming of inviting friends from all around the world to our city’s craft beer festival. We’ve came so close, damn… Thessaloniki Craft Beer Experience is something that I’m working on the last 6 years. Because except of organizing the event you have to have the budget too. And this budget took me 6 years to get it after hard work. Not only by myself of course. I have always to thank my partners at the beer festivals that we organize, the creative team of Soulfood Thessaloniki. 3 young guys that know how to rule. So the last 6 months we’ve worked hard for TCBE. Spent hours and money on this event and of course passion and love. Festival tasting glasses were ready, promotion was full on, hotels were booked, equipment was rent, venue was booked and rent and of course most of the imported beer are here. Damn, holy damn… We had to postpone the event for the health and the lives of all of us. It was and still is so stressed time. But health is the first thing that we have to take care, isn’t it. Still is hard to know that I have so many delicious beers on kegs, storage in a cold warehouse and nobody can taste it. We gonna do a huge beer party when all these are over. TCBE is postponed for 19-21 March 2021, just to be sure that everything is going to be OK. That all of us will be back at our normal lives and to be ready to enjoy a huge craft beer gathering in Thessaloniki. I promise you it’s going to be great. Cause we will give our best for it...











- This event came from your background as one of the organisers of Thessaloniki Beer Festival. When you've started with this type of event organisation and what you find as a satisfaction in this?

Yes I am the co organizer of Thessaloniki Beer Festival that first started back at 2017 with a huge success until now. Every year more than 40.000 people are visiting this huge beer event.

I’ve started to get involved to organizing beer events, since we established a good reputation for the Hoppy Pub and we’ve started to have many fans and followers to our goal. 2015 was our first effort for a beer gathering of many people through Christmas Hops Fest and Oktobeer Thes. Both events showed to us that people in Greece are thirsty for good beer and that we have to put more effort and focus on organizing a beer festival.

It’s not only satisfaction in organizing a beer event. For me it was and still is one way street these events. Because only through these events people are getting mass beer education and getting in touch with beer world. Only through festivals you get in touch with many beers and its people. I think festivals are helping the most the beer culture to grow. As foe satisfaction then…I think it well deserved all the stress and the hard work of organizing a beer festival when you see so many happy people with beers on their hands and having fun. It’s more than satisfaction. It’s a blessing…




- As I was in Thessaloniki first time last year, I can say that I've discovered great energy! Maybe it's cause of me as I like port cities. But, tell us a bit more about Thessaloniki...From your perspective.

Wow, what to say about Thessaloniki. How can I describe the city that I was born, the city that I live, the city that I’m in love with ?
Thessaloniki has it’s magic view because of the sea view and its sea side walk. It’s a really historical city. In our city you can find history alive in many neighborhoods. Byzantine years, ancient Greek years, Ottoman empire years are compiled in the city and give you a strange walk through the centuries. Thessaloniki is a relaxed city as its people are very welcoming and they are willing to talk to you. Thessaloniki was always a crossroad of civilizations as many different people were living in the city through the years. Its history has many things to teach us… In the end, I think the city is still a big village, no matter than 1500000 people are living here. I mean that the society here is really like in a village. People knowing each other and this city has kept its identity. I traveled as much as I could afford and I’ve visited many amazing countries and places. I saw many things that we could use them here and correct some of our mistakes but also I found out that we have so many beautiful things that are unique in Thessaloniki. Still this city is one of my favorites around the world. If I ever have to live away from Thessaloniki, I will miss it so much…











- Is it hard to present new beers from different countries to Greek craft beer lovers?

No, I don’t think it is hard to present new beers from different countries to Greeks. Not anymore for me, at least… I mean that the hard thing is to find people to share your passion for good beer. The Hoppies (this is how I call the big family of my pub…) are really open minded and they just care if the beers are good and INDEPENDENT. Our way of thinking is that we care just for good beer, no matter when it is from. I think we can find amazing beers in many countries. In most of the countries. There are everywhere people with passion for good beer. Craft beer has soul. It’s not just a product… I think that introducing new beers from other countries to my people here is my battery. Is the thing that keeps me full in love with what I’ doing for living. I am so happy every time I have to present new beers to the people of the pub…So excited and so honored of importing and introduce beers of my abroad friends to Greeks. It’s priceless this feeling !


- As all of us, crazy & passionate beer lovers involved in craft beer movement, you're also in love with beer. Which beers and beer schools are on the top of your list?

I love the “Holy” Belgium beer culture and tradition. I cannot express in words the love that I have for Belgian beers. All of the styles. Lambics, flanders red, oud bruins, saisons, abbey beers, etc. I love all of themSecond one that I really love is Franconia area’s beers and beer history. In my opinion the most enjoyable beer style in the world is a Franken Kellerbier... Crispiness, drinkability, flavors, aromas, everything you want from a beer is here. Of course I adore and love all of the beer “schools” as British, Czech, American, Scandinavian, Polish etc. All of them gave us and still give us amazing brews. Do you see what the beer world is ? Is a great beautiful map of nice people, united and happy together, no borders , no silly fights. Especially nowdays that there are more countries in it. More and more day by day, year by year. Can you Imagine our leaders to be the brewers, or our politicians if they were beer lovers ? I think we could have a really better world for our children…


- At last year's Thessaloniki Beer Festival I've tried great beer of yours which you're brewing with your friend who has a brewery. Can you tell us something about that new project of yours...

First of all I want to make it clear. I’m not a brewer and I will never be. I’m a publican and a beer lover. And through this I’m involved to many different beer projects. I fell happy being in a brewery and getting dirty by brewing a beer. But I will never be the one who’s gonna read and study things about brewing and technics. I know many things by watching and learning through my friends brewers around the world. I love to brew beer, I love to serve beer, I love people drinking handcrafted beer…



The beer that you’ve tasted was from our project Fuckin’ Flamingo Brewing. The plan was to brew beers, to sell them and get some money to built a small brewery 500L per batch, to our village, the place that we live, Epanomi. Epanomi is a sea side village 30 minutes out of Thessaloniki. The place is blessed by its location. There kilometers of golden sand beaches here and clear waters for people to enjoy through summer times. So the plan was a Brewery with a taproom yard for the thousands of people that are visiting our village for swimming. No distribution stress, beer straight from production to consumers glasses. Growlers, crawlers and merchandise would help us financialy. And then later a taproom in the center of the city…
Unfortunately now our plans are postponed. But there is a new project that I will try to run asap.


I call it Drifter Brewers. Travelling and brewing with friens around the world and these beers to be sold only through a taproom in the center of Thessaloniki and through good friends pubs around the world. More news soon…


- Which beer “you'll kill first” after all this crazyness finish?Hey how can I answer this question ? Hahaha…
I have a fresh keg of Dogma Hazy Rocket in my cold room now. Keeping company to some Hammer’s beers, to some East Side’s beers cand other mazing beers of TCBE’s. I thing this is what I will shoot first. I cannot wait to tap again Hoppy’s first keg of “Freedom” hahaha…



- For the end of this Brew view, send one message to all Serbian and worldwide beer lovers!

Hey, brothers and sisters, let’s stay strong and healthy, cause we have a world to rebuild…For our children, for our parents, for our future… And for sure we have oceans of amazing craft beer to “sail on”. And believe me, we gonna dry out these oceans together. I feel so blessed by knowing that we are all together in this. Cause together we cannot loose. Together we will rise again !PROMISE …Lots of love and best wishes to all of you. Seen you soon !

Author:
Vladimir Stojković
Dogma Brewery