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Lithuanian Beer

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Jeffboyardee123, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Jeffboyardee123

    Jeffboyardee123 Aficionado (175) New York Apr 24, 2012 Beer Trader


    Girlfriend is from Lithuania and sent me this New York Times article where Lithuania is listed as the 24th top destination to visit in 2013 due to it's
    Has anybody had any of these beers? Any thoughts on them?
    elgiacomo likes this.
  2. djaeon

    djaeon Champion (755) California Oct 2, 2006

    Sounds interesting. Maybe someday I'll have the funds to explore old Europe.
  3. lucasj82

    lucasj82 Champion (980) Indiana Aug 13, 2009 Beer Trader

    My grandparents were Lithuanian so I am down for giving some of the beers of Lithuania a whirl.
    elgiacomo likes this.
  4. duchessedubourg

    duchessedubourg Advocate (545) Vermont Nov 2, 2007 Beer Trader

    Quebec friend Martin Thibault wrote the article cited on beer tourism in Lithuania, and had some wonderful stories to tell about their trip. Glad the NYT picked it up.
  5. Jeffboyardee123

    Jeffboyardee123 Aficionado (175) New York Apr 24, 2012 Beer Trader

    I was very surprised to see NYT put that as the 24th on their list of must visit places in the upcoming year on basis of beer alone, but I think it's wonderful. Looking forward to giving them all a whirl in the future.
  6. kojevergas

    kojevergas Poobah (1,180) Colorado Aug 15, 2010 Beer Trader

    What, like a couple grand?
  7. djaeon

    djaeon Champion (755) California Oct 2, 2006

    I'd guess $4-5 grand for two people. Round trip flights. Food. Lodging. Beer. Etc. I need a better job.
    mikeburd1128 and kojevergas like this.
  8. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poobah (1,475) California Mar 18, 2010 Verified

    I have had beers from 2 breweries in Lithuania: Svyturys and Utenos. Most of the beers I have sampled haven't been all that great but there are some decent ones.
  9. HenrikO

    HenrikO Aficionado (215) Sweden Jun 19, 2011

    I've visited Lithuania many times and love their beer. They have a strong brewing tradition; in many Soviet republics the state centralized food and beverage production and forced small breweries to close (since it was more "rational" to just have one big brewery that served the whole country, natch), but in Lithuania this was simply not an option (they love their beer!) so most small breweries were allowed to continue operating; then when independence came in the early 1990s most of these breweries were privatised again. It's a small country but most towns have a local brewery, and often more than one.

    Just like elsewhere a lot of the beer is pretty samey (Svyturys and Utenos are the Lithuanian "macros") with lagers or traditional German-style stuff dominating (i.e. a brewery would do a light ale and a dark ale and that's it). The farmhouse beers (kaimiskas in the local parlance) are where it gets interesting (most of these would be reminiscent of saisons or German keller/zwickelbiers). My personal favourite is from Ramuno Cizo Alaus, Ramuno is a fourth-generation brewer making traditional "bread beer", i.e. where you first bake bread and then malt it for the beer (in the same way that you would make kvass (or gira in Lithuanian), though most kvass today is like soda pop and made more like Coke or something), which creates a cloudy dark beer with a lovely sweet-and-sour-taste. There are also farmhouse beers made with things like honey, clover and green peas (!) - the latter impart a sweet grassy taste.

    Vilniaus Alus, the brewery of the capital, makes some good ones, including two strong old ales (ABV 13-14), one light and one dark, sold in small flip-top 25 cl bottles. They stand up very well to aging also. Their dark herbed ale is also nice; if you can, go to their small brewery tap in central Vilnius and hope they serve the higher-abv version (ABV 8; the stuff they bottle is around ABV 5), this doesn't get bottled and is awesome.

    You can also often get growler fills (or rather plastic bottle fills, I never saw anyone use actual glass growlers) at supermarkets or small corner stores. Vilnius has a couple of great beer bars, as does Kaunas. I could go on. Go if you have the chance, it's definitely an underrated beer destination in my opinion.
    Redrover likes this.
  10. Lutter

    Lutter Advocate (660) Texas Jun 30, 2010

    Thanks for the write-up! I'm of Latvian and Lithuanian decent (first generation American) so this is really interesting to me. You haven't been to Latvia, have ya? I always wanted to try Latvian beer.

    Really want to visit Riga and Vilnius some day... but DAMN the flights are wicked expensive out there (3-5k each when I've looked). My grandparents took the cheap route of hijacking a boat into Sweden (and eventually Boston) once the Soviets started invading.

    My grandfather died before I could ask him such questions about beer (he was Lithuianian) but my grandmother (from Lativia) said they mostly drank a lot of vodka there, lol.
  11. HenrikO

    HenrikO Aficionado (215) Sweden Jun 19, 2011

    Sure have. I've travelled a lot to all three Baltic states for work in the past couple of years. Latvian beers is nowhere near as good as Lithuanian though, but there are a few gems, also of the farmhouse variety - Madonas is my favourite (liquid sour cookie dough, if that makes any sense) but you can only get that in a few pubs. Valmiermuiza make a wonderful alt/schwarzbier which is also really hard to get, they only bottle it a couple times a year and it sells out really fast (Latvian whale? ;)). They do a regular light beer/lager too, which is good but nothing special.

    Riga has a couple of decent beer bars and also a nice little bottle shop in the Berga Bazars mall, they don't carry any local stuff but have a good selection of Mikkellers, Belgians and some US beer (got a bottle of Bruery Rugbrod and a Victory Storm King stout last time I was there), the owner is a great guy who loves to chat and you can open and drink bottles on the premises. NB the shop also has a steady supply of De Ranke Kriek and Cuvée De Ranke, which would be traded for on the level of Cantillon if there was any justice in the world.

    Neither Lithuania nor Latvia have so far been influenced by the US craft scene though, so no IPAs, hop bombs and crazy experimental stuff - the emphasis is on tradition, not innovation. I hear that there are some more crafty things going on in Estonia now, but don't know any details. There was a thread on Estonian craft on The Other Forum a while back though.
  12. Jeffboyardee123

    Jeffboyardee123 Aficionado (175) New York Apr 24, 2012 Beer Trader

    Thanks for the info! I should be going sometime this year. Flights are definitely not 3-5k, they run 575-1000 generally. Girlfriend just bought a roundtrip ticket from Vilnius to JFK for $650. Aerosvit used to be the cheapest, but they are bankrupt now.
  13. CurtFromHershey

    CurtFromHershey Advocate (590) Minnesota Oct 4, 2012 Beer Trader

  14. Jeffboyardee123

    Jeffboyardee123 Aficionado (175) New York Apr 24, 2012 Beer Trader

    That beer seems slightly terrifying.
    CurtFromHershey likes this.
  15. Derranged

    Derranged Advocate (545) New York Mar 7, 2010

    Ive only had a few of their macros; Lobster Lovers, Werewolf and Before-After. All drinkable but not good although Lobster was the better of the 3.
  16. Jeffboyardee123

    Jeffboyardee123 Aficionado (175) New York Apr 24, 2012 Beer Trader

    As far as all Lithuanian brews, not the interesting farmhouse ones, I've had some of the Svyturys and Vilkmerges beers, none of which were very interesting. Never bought any of the Rinkuskiai beers, their labels make them seem like the Four Loko of Lithuania