Beer Blog

The Brew, The Strand, Sliema – Malta’s first Brewpub

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I stumbled into The Brew by accident. Like, I’ve been disappointed before with pubs whose nomenclature purported them to be brew pubs. Besides, most of the premises on the swish Sliema strand are typical tourist joints or frequented by younger Maltese kids. Anyway, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I had a walk down the stairs.

Inside it’s very well furnished and has more of a New York feel to it than a continental European style café bar. The food element was quite prominent and there was nothing unusual on the long bar top, apart from the usual suspects. Then my eyes focussed on a cylindrical copper glow at the far end of the bar. Quite an impressive copper glow actually, three shiny Schulz brewing vessels sat on a bespoke gantry. Unfortunately the lad behind the bar wasn’t Maltese and his command of English was poor. He pointed out a pallet load of shrink wrapped boxes indicating they were part of the brewing set up, and he thought they would be commencing brewing in November. Other than the brewer being ‘some German guy’ he couldn’t tell me much more about it, apart from having some ‘craft beers’ in bottles. Ah well, you can’t drop on every time.

I had a look on The Brew website when I got back to the hotel. It was all a bit Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet and mentioned nothing about any brewing operation. When we were out and about, I was asking people if they had heard about The Brew, but no one had, which seemed a little strange. Some sort of mental displacement activity threw up the idea that it was very similar to Tapped in Leeds, in both style and appearance, if only for the brew kit. So, I decided it was worth a photo or two and inclusion in my beery round-up of Malta which led to a second visit with the camera.

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I took a couple of shots of the modern exterior and the logo before wandering inside and asking some guy if it was okay to take some photos of the brew kit? He immediately asked me why? I outlined my intentions which led to a broad smile and the explanation that today (28-10-16) was the inaugural brew. Alex, the General Manager then gave me the full tour and introduced me to his partner and Director of the operation, Dimitri Tolok, a Ukranian. Even though he continued to insist that Marko Devic’s shot was over the line when John Terry cleared it (Ukraine 0-1 England – European Championship – 19/6/2012), Dimitri was a charming young man. I think it’s universally acknowledged that it should have been 1 – 1 and the linesman got it wrong, I apologised for this.

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He told me they were going to brew seven different beers on rotation so there would always be five different styles on the bar. The first brew was a Pilsner, and they showed me the bags of milled pilsner malt from Weyerman of Bamberg and the pile of sealed silver packets of Hallertau hop pellets. The Schulz brew kit was a three vessel set up and although the language barrier didn’t allow much technical detail, they told me it had a maximum 500L production. Essentially there were three copper brewing vessels downstairs, and, at least, seven or eight fermenters/storage tanks behind a screen in the upstairs seating area.  I’m guessing, but it looked like they were planning to dispense directly to the bar using some of these vessels as bright beer tanks? There was no evidence of any bottling or kegging facility. The set up was quite impressive, very professional, state of the art and looked to have cost an awful lot of money. Apart from smiles and nods the exact cost proved difficult to pin down. I reckon the set up costs for the premises and brewery will have been over a million Euro.

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Apart from the Pilsner, the other brews were going to be; Honey beer, Pale ale, Dark beer, Rye beer, Lager, and a Ginger IPA style.

The penny never dropped until I asked Alex his surname – Friggieri. Not the Friggieri’s that have Busy Bee I asked? ‘Cousins, my Grandfather and their’s were brothers,’ Alex replied. Now if you ever visit Malta, you just have to visit Busy Bee est. 1933, on Ta’ Xbiex, seafront, Msida. It’s a sort of glitzy, glass, mirrors and marble Caketeria; confectionery and savoury items, light lunches, sandwiches and pies, tea, coffee and milk shakes, wine and beer if you want, lunch no dinner service. It’s well off the tourist beat and almost exclusively locals, and it’s wonderful. If I was going to get assassinated by Michael Corleone, then it would be after lunch in Busy Bee, and I would only let him visit the washroom after I had eaten all my pasta, it is just the best, as good as Mama’s.

So there you have it. Malta’s first brew pub on Sliema Strand. Give it until the third week in November (2016) and you will be able to try their first ever brew, a Pilsner. If I’m honest, I won’t get to taste it for a while yet, maybe next year. From what I saw, from the history of those involved, and the amount of cash invested, I reckon this Maltese/Ukranian venture will be a winner, it just can’t fail.

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