Interview: Maro Voulgari
Beer has always been my passion. To succeed in something, you must love it. Preferably, with passion
Another success story makes us feel optimistic and have confidence in the island’s young generation. Nikos Pavlakis and his partner Marinos Alexandrou created the 56isles, the first Parian beer which, though barely known, won a prize from the Great Taste Awards…
How did you get the idea of creating your own beer?
The idea was born in London in 2012, while I was doing my master’s degree. There, I met my partner Marinos Alexandrou and together we envisaged creating our own product. Beer has been my passion, so we decided to make our own small production beer. Marinos has catering operations in London, but I have grown up here; I don’t like big cities. So we set up the operation on Paros and created the first Parian beer which we named 56isles from the 56 Cyclades isles, inhabited or not…
Has the island helped you with the raw materials?
I use Parian raw barley. There are references to the Parian barley which go back to Archilochus.
Actually, Paros was called Land of Barley. There is a special variety of barley which grows only here and on Limnos and gives this special taste.
How was the adventure of creating a microbrewery?
Indeed, we set up a microbrewery. The entire production takes place here. We invested in this place despite the fact that the bureaucratic procedures were disheartening. We wanted an entirely Parian product.
When did you feel that the project would make it?
After the first tests. We had decided what features we wanted for our first beer. We tested five or six flavors; we chose to combine two of them.
What was its reception on the island?
I’m quite pleased. It is difficult for a small brewery to develop in a touristic place; there is competition -frequently unfair- from the big companies. However, it has made its way in most shops -especially restaurants- but less in bars.
What prompted you to the second beer? How would you describe its taste?
The 56 Isles Aegean Wit is a refreshing blonde beer, pleasant in taste. The difference is that it is a wheat beer, of Parian wheat again, blended with local spices, citrus, even some jam! It is a fresh, unpasteurized and undistilled beer in a blue bottle with a yellow label. Fruity as it is with very special flavors, it can make an excellent aperitif with a slice of orange.
Tell us about the Prize…
I entered the Great Taste Awards -an international Competition- prompted by my partner. I was a bit hesitant, but we sent samples in February and when I was told that we got the prize I could hardly believe it. I was very pleased because it is a serious, unimpeachable Competition with many judges.
How do you see the next five years on Paros?
Paros is changing. We can see it in the people who visit us and the improved quality of the shops. However, as more people visit the island we must capitalize on this. We need infrastructure projects and better service.