Alcohol in the MR

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  • Alcohol Production
    • Wine (κρας, kras) is produced by the monasteries, each of which has extensive vineyards of the Xynomavro grape. What is not used for sacramental purposes or consumption by the monks is sold in the Lowland. The complete process, from harvesting to bottling, takes place at the monasteries. The bottles are then transported by donkey to Dafni whence they are shipped to the Lowland and the Isles. Connoisseurs are said to be able to tell the difference between the wines of the twenty monasteries. The monks drink the wine unaged, while the wine for sale in the Lowland is aged for at least one year. The labels are simple showing a picture of the monastery with its name and the year of vintage. The monasteries do not produce fortified wines.
    • Aoun Brewery is a small brewery (ζυθοπιί, zuthopií) located in Aktí. It is owned and operated by the Aoun family, descendants of a Lebanese refugee family from Faradiss, who came to the Monastic Republic in 1885. The head of the Aoun family, Ahmad Aoun, has been the general manager of the firm since 1998.
      • In 1975, the Aoun family decided to fill a lack in the MR as all beer (μπυρ, bur) had to be imported. After some extensive research they decided that a light brown wheat beer (barley would have to be imported) would best satisfy the MR market, both for the citizens and for the tourists.
      • The beer is a cross between the Belgian Witbier which, while containing barley also, is flavored with orange peel; and the German Weißbier which is made from 100% wheat.
      • As it is unfiltered, it still contains the yeast which gives it a milky appearance, hence the German name Weißbier, white beer. They have named the beer Faradhís (φαραδίς).
      • It is top-fermented with low hop bitterness and is 3-3.5% alcohol. It has high carbonation and a malty sweetness.
      • Three varieties are made using the peel of each of the three citrus fruits that are grown on Ammouliani Island: φαραδίς λεμονιού, φαραδίς πορτοκαλιού, and φαραδίς κιτρού.
      • The water used in the brewing process comes from streams that run down on to the Lowland from the Holy Mountain.
      • The brewery leases one of the larger fields on Cape Arapis where they grow their own wheat, thus not using land devoted to the growing of wheat for bread.
      • The brewery has planted its own hop yard. Originally, the Tettnang hop was grown, which over the years has acquired its own characteristics from the Athonite soil, giving the ale an aroma reminiscent of cinnamon and vanilla.
      • In 1991, the brewery moved from its location in the town of Aktí to a site on the other side of the Xerxes Canal, so that the canal need not be crossed to get from wheat field to brewery.
      • The brewery also runs a taverna on the site overlooking the Xerxes Canal.
    • Several liqueurs are produced in the Monastic Republic.
      • The Monastery of St. Philotheus has a grove of cherry trees and makes a liqueur (κεραςάρ Φιλοθέου) from the fruit.
      • The Monastery of Sts. Peter and Paul has the right to harvest chestnuts on the Holy Mountain from which a liqueur (καςτανάρ Πετροπάυλου) is made.
      • The Cambrian monks of the Monastery of St. Nicholas are known for the fine mead (υδρόμελ) they brew, some of which they flavor with roses, a drink known as rhodomel. (ροδρόμελ).
      • The interior of Ammouliani Island is covered with citrus groves. Orange, lemon, and lime liqueurs are made from these fruits: λιμονάρ, ρορτοκαλάρ, and κιτράρ.
      • Many private homes, and some tavernas, have grape trellises for the production of τςιρόπ, tsirop, a grape liqueur. The family can make an appointment to use the communal distillery for a fee. Not much is distilled each year and it is an honor to be served some, when visiting a family, from their private reserve.
  • Alcohol sale
    • Most of the alcoholic beverages made in the Monastic Republic are sold locally. Because of the limited production, there is no great demand for export. However, there is no limit to how many bottles tourists may carry with them when they leave the republic. And a number of European restaurants serve MR wines.
    • The sale of the monasteries’ wines and liqueurs is a monopoly of the monasteries. Each of the towns has a wine shop where these beverages are sold.
    • The beer, the citrus liqueurs and all other alcoholic beverages, other than the monasteries’ wine and liqueurs, are sold in state stores, one in each town.
    • For convenience the wine shop and the state store occupy the same room. On one side are the display cases of the monasteries' wines and liqueurs; on the other, the displays of the beer and citrus liqueurs and any imported liquor. There are separate cash registers. The wine shop and the state store are responsible for the overseas shipping of their several products.
    • The wine shops have a room for wine and beer tasting, a pasttime enjoyed by the tourists.
    • The local liquors are brought by boat to Dafni for the use of the lay folk who work there and in Karyes.
    • The monks do not drink the cherry or the chestnut liqueurs and all of it is sold in the monastery wine shops.
    • All alcoholic beverages produced in the republic are available in all the tavernas (ταβέρν).
    • There is no sales tax on alcoholic beverages produced in the republic, but a sales tax of 5% is levied on imported alcoholic beverages.
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