BCS is currently back in the place where it all started about one year ago: Athens, Greece! Now, 50 Classically-themed beer reviews later, we find ourselves back in the city we have both come to love so dearly. So in honor of Athens, our 50th CBR features a beer from the city’s very first microbrewery: Noctua. The brewery has opened this year and has two beers out so far: a Black IPA (Night Vision) and an American Pale Ale (Head Twister). In the dry heat of Athens, we were craving something refreshing so we decided to get the latter from our neighborhood cava Solidakis, which – besides wine and spirits – also has a great selection of Greek and other European craft beers. Lucky us!
Noctua Head Twister is an American Pale Ale that the brewers describe on their website as a ‘hop-forward ale.’The brew has a sweet malt smell and hints of floral hoppy notes. Upon drinking, we get malty and bready flavors, with a somewhat harsh grapefruit finish from the hops that mellows a bit as the beer warms in your hand. Certainly not a bad beer to start one’s brewing catalog with, but we are very curious to learn what Noctua still has up their sleeve in the future!
Noctua is the Latin word for ‘night bird’ or owl. In the brewery’s case, ‘noctua’ more specifically refers to athene noctua, the Latin species name given to the little owl. The little owl is closely associated with the goddess Athena and symbolizes her knowledge and wisdom. With Athena being the patron goddess of the city that bears her name, the ‘owl of Athena’ also became a symbol of the city of Athens.
The owl’s image is depicted on the Athenian tetradrachms (see image above), the silver coins minted by the city that were nicknamed ‘owls’ in the ancient world. It is likely the coinage rather than actual owls that are referred to in the ancient Greek saying ‘bringing owls to Athens,’ which is pretty much the same as saying ‘carrying coals to Newcastle.’ Whereas Newcastle was abundant in coals, the city of Athens was abundant in ‘owls,’ which gives an indication of the city’s wealth during Classical times.
Ingredients: water, barley malt, wheat malt, hops (Nugget, Citra, Chinook, Challenger), yeast
Brewed by: Noctua Athens Microbrewery, Athens, Greece
Source image tetradrachm: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, author: cgb.fr, user: Lequenne Gwendoline.