CYPRUS REAL ALE MICROBREWERY GETS THE FINAL GO-AHEAD!
THE YORKSHIRE-FAMILY-OWNERS of the Paphos-based Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery & Brewpub, the first licensed microbrewery in Cyprus, tell CAMRA the incredible story of how they overcame years of the former administration’s rampant bureaucracy to start their brewery.
Why Did You Decide to Start a Microbrewery in Cyprus?
William Ginn, ‘Bill’, said, “I’m a Chartered Engineer in the oil industry and have travelled all my life. We wanted to start a family business and saw real potential to establish a microbrewery in beautiful Paphos where we had happily settled along with many other British expatriates.
Melanie, our daughter, studied in Sunderland as one of a growing band of British women brewers. Then, in 2010, we prepared a full business plan for CIPA, the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency, who agreed to assist us. We didn’t enter into this lightly nor, knowing Cyprus, did we expect things to be easy but no market research, business plan or MBA could have prepared us for the government nightmare to follow…”
What Were the Problems You Encountered in Cyprus?
“We found an old defunct winery in a lush green valley in the hills above Paphos. The size was perfect plus it was full of charm and character with all permits as a ‘winery’. CIPA said the ‘Change of Use’ application to ‘brewery’, “…should be straightforward”. It was, however, Easter 2012, eighteen months of continuous and largely unnecessary work later, before our thick dossier of documentation was complete. We were assured all was in order and we “…should receive the Permit to Brew in a week”. Imagine our shock on receiving notification from Nicosia not with our promised Permit to Brew but with further demands, then further and then still further unreasonable and, often, impossible demands.
It must be said that Jean, my wife, and I were treated very badly during these years and our health undoubtedly suffered. It turned out that CIPA was, in fact, powerless to help. It almost felt as if there was a deliberate attempt by the government to drive us out of Cyprus for some reason!
We persevered and met all demands making it clear we would not just meekly go away. Customs & Excise then dropped their bombshell, never previously mentioned, that should we ever receive a Permit to Brew we must pay a €51,000 bond and have a full-time Inspector on our premises whose salary and all expenses would be to our account. The cost could be well over €100,000pa; a crippling sum for a small family business.”
To Brussels and the European Parliament…
Bill said “With no options left to us, and feeling very alone, we took this to the European Parliament in Brussels with the support of our former Yorkshire MEPs.” Questions put to the European Commission in 2012, were:
“Will the Commission investigate whether the difficulties and very long delays experienced by Aphrodite’s Rock Brewing Company in its attempts to open for business in Cyprus are a function of:
- The existence of non-tariff trading barriers
- The Cypriot authorities manipulating regulations to prevent or discourage competition
- Tacit and potentially illegal bureaucratic connivance in favour of existing Cypriot business
And, whether the brewing sector in Cyprus is operating in accordance with the requirements of all relevant aspects of EU law”
“After nearly four years of struggles our Permit to Brew was finally granted with the resident Inspector and bond requirements dropped.”
Bill said, “After all those years of Cyprus bureaucracy, I nearly called our Irish Red Ale ‘Red Tape’!” He added, “Finally, however, we can say that a holiday in the ‘Med’ no longer condemns CAMRA real ale drinkers to long days of bland, commercial lagers. Cheap flights and low cost accommodation make even a long weekend break possible so come to our little oasis in Paphos in 2016 and have a few great days with us!”
Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery & Brewpub Today
“Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery & Brewpub is in a lovely old winery 15 minutes from Paphos surrounded by beautiful olive groves and grape vine terraces. You and your family can take in the views sat in the traditional stone courtyard shaded by walnut, hazelnut and mulberry trees and also enjoy regular live entertainment staged for your pleasure. The kitchen offers delicious, great value-for-money meals plus authentic hand-stretched Italian pizzas baked-to-order in an Italian wood-fired oven. Portions are generous – come hungry, you won’t leave that way!” Bill said.
Despite its stunning location, great restaurant and warm ambience, Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery & Brewpub is still, first-and-foremost, a microbrewery. Quality real ales and real ciders with real character are brewed by Head Brewer, Melanie, and her team for tourists and residents alike. You can also join the highly popular, informative and complimentary Brewery Tour held every Monday to Friday after lunch. This is an idyllic and inexpensive Mediterranean venue for birthday parties, anniversaries and wedding receptions with all special arrangements made.
Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery & Brewpub is regularly #1 in Tripadvisor “Top 100 Things to do in Paphos” with a Certificate of Excellence.
Holidaymakers visiting Paphos will enjoy a great, low-cost ‘sun, sea & sand’ holiday on golden beaches beside the crystal-clear Mediterranean Sea as well as experiencing some amazing historical sites in one of the safest overseas tourist destinations available in these troubled times.
The family’s tenacity and determination to bring this much demanded microbrewery to fruition in Cyprus is to be commended. Institutional problems continue for them but they say the support and solidarity shown by fellow CAMRA members, and friends & family, visiting them in Paphos is a great help. Our mission is to let it be seen that British microbreweries overseas that are fighting to push back the frontiers of real ale in Europe are not alone but stand shoulder-to-shoulder with 200,000 CAMRA members. Support Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery & Brewpub!
Aphrodite’s Rock Microbrewery & Brewpub
- Monday – Saturday: 11.30am – 10.00pm (breakfast from 9.30am)
- Sunday Roast: 12.00noon – 4.00pm