The weekly Stat Attack - 25 The Baltic States (10th April 2022)

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, They don’t mind being lumped together (or do they?). They are all in NATO and used to be friends with Russia, not so much these days. Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius (their capitals) are all interesting cities with loads of architecture to stare at apparently and the beer scene in each one is growing exponentially. No city in the Baltic States has a population of over one million, Riga is the largest with around 700,000 people.

Right lets get into some beery stats:
Estonia first.
83 Breweries, 22 closed.
Top raters.

Marduk 2442
FatPhil 1971
martjoobolut 1372
visionthing 1319
Juks 1290
suurjuust 930
TBone 904
phfyysik 805
jinroh 734
tarmok 619

To join the top 50 you’ll need 198 rates.

Latvia next.
90 Breweries, 10 closed
Top Raters.

Marduk 1385
FatPhil 1349
DocuDrinks 739
Alusmamuts 717
Vells 431
visionthing 296
Juks 267
martjoobolut 239
phfyysik 223
zenkis 221

66 rates would get you onto Latvia’s leader board.

Lithuania now.
80 Breweries, 20 closed.

Top Raters.

77 Rates would put you 50th on Lithuania’s leader board.

As can be seen on the three lists I’ve copied across, there are some serious raters out there, I hope one or two of them join us and share their experiences and stories.

Lots for people to check their stats for, please post some replies to keep the weekly threads going, thanks.

<*))))))><

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When were they friends with Russia?!

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Before the Dark Ages!

<*))))))><

I’ve had one excellent trip in 2018 to the Baltic States, well mainly Lithuania & a day in Latvia.
Flying into Riga, overnighting there & then flying to Palanga in Western Lithuania the next day & taking the local bus to the 3rd biggest city of Klaipeda. A ferry ride away from the impressive end of the 98 mile Curonian Spit. I then hired a car & drove across Lithuania visiting a former Soviet nuclear missle base, Siauliai & the incredible Hill of Crosses. Then to Panevezys, Birzai, joining a completely Lithuanian tour on a narrow gauge steam railway & walking tour of countryside & hamlets, Kaunas & Vilnius.
Excellent beer through out, lots of traditional farmhouse beer to American style IPA’s in wooden shacks to modern venues.

I’ve rated 34 Lithuanian beers from 21 different breweries, averaging 3.3
9 Latvian from 4 different breweries, 3.28 av
3 Estonian from 2 breweries, 3.87 av

Lithuanian top beers -
\ 7x7 My Rating Avg Entered Updated
Raspberry Milkshake Ale 3.7 3.4 2/6/2019
Sakiškių Sour Pale Ale 3.7 3.33 4/29/2019
Apynys Green Monster IPA 3.6 3.33 6/13/2021
Apynys Juodras 3.6 3.21 6/13/2021
Californication / Kalifornikacija 3.5 3.2 4/1/2019
Dundulis Simkala 3.5 3.14 6/13/2021
Dundulis Keptinis Alus 3.5 3.16 6/13/2021
Dundulis Joudas IPA 3.5 3.14 6/13/2021
Kuro Aparatūra NemieGOSE PareiGOSE 3.5 3.18 6/13/2021

Top Latvian beers -
\ 7x7 My Rating Avg Entered Updated
Malduguns Cilpa 3.7 3.3 6/14/2019
Labietis Mežs 3.7 3.27 7/29/2019
Malduguns Kramplauzis 3.6 3.38 6/14/2021
Labietis Kēninmeita 3.5 3.25 1/7/2021
Labietis Pūdele 3.5 3.33 1/7/2021

Estonian- \ 7x7 My Rating Avg Entered Updated
Põhjala Öö 4 3.96 12/8/2019
Õllenaut Must Eksport 3.8 3.65 7/18/2020
Põhjala Topeltnelson 3.8 3.61 8/2/2020

I’ve visited 18 places in Lithuania -

My Rating Avg Entered Updated
Alaus Biblioteka 88 88 2/9/2019 2/9/2019
�nekutis (�v Stepono) (CLOSED) 88 86 2/9/2019 2/9/2019
Bambalyne 86 84 2/9/2019
Seklycia prie Uosio 84 79 11/20/2021
Nisha Craft Capital 82 94 2/9/2019 2/9/2019

And 2 in Latvia -

My Rating Avg Entered Updated
Alus Darbnīca Labietis 84 90 5/2/2019
Alus Celle 76 98 5/2/2019

Must get a trip to Estonia in soon & would be keen to see more of Latvia.

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I love the weekly Stat Attack! I have never visited Estonia (Estland) but here in Norway beers from Pohjala are easy to get. I visited Riga back in 2011 and have 5 place ratings. In 2017 Gunnar and I visited Vilnius and Kaunas in Lituania. We managed 33 place ratings :grin:

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I have never been to any of the Balkan States, was tempted when there was a European Gathering organised before the pandemic, but the itinerary was too hectic for me and I didn’t go. They do look inviting, but I’ve not really looked to deeply apart from that gathering.

I’ve had 74 rates from the three countries, 20 from Estonia (6 breweries), 18 from Latvia (8 breweries) and 36 from Lithuania (10 breweries). Average scores not great, but that’d because I’ve mostly had Pale Lagers from multi-nationals that are available in local ‘Eastern European’ shops.

TOP BEERS, Estonia:

Põhjala Winter Bänger 4.1 3.86 6/19/2020
Saku Porter 4 3.34 10/22/2014
Sori Laudatur XVI 3.9 3.8 10/24/2018
Sori / Helsinki Brewing Company Once Upon A Time In Helsinki 3.7 3.39 2/18/2020

TOP BEERS Latvia:

Aldaris Kviesu 4.1 2.79 4/5/2012
Aldaris Porteris 3.8 3.42 6/22/2015
Cēsu Premium Amber 3.1 2.46 9/18/2020
Užavas Gaišais 3.1 2.81 9/27/2020
Valmiermuiža Gaišais Filtrets 3.1 2.88 8/1/2021

TOP BEERS Lithuania:

Vilniaus Tamsusis Alus 3.6 2.84 11/5/2017
Fortas Stiprusis 3.5 2.66 3/1/2013
Butautu Šviesus Alus 3.5 2.76 8/28/2014
Volfas Engelman Balta Pinta 3.5 2.98 7/3/2017
Rinkuškiai Werewolf 8.2% 3.5 2.76 1/15/2018

Nothing else to add for this week.

<*))))))><

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Yes they do mind being lumped together !!!

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Maybe they do mind this?:rofl:

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Oh, this will be a lengthy post - don’t like lumping these countries together…

Let’s start with Estonia. It is my 20th most rated country with 308 beers from 55 breweries, average of 2.71.
My first visit was in 1991, visiting at midsummer on the weekend they transitioned from Soviet Rubel to Estonian Kroon. The country was in bad need of refurnishing, and the only beerI found was the awful Zhiguli Õlu (sp). It was impressive to see how quickly the country got on it’s feet, and also how the beer scene rapidly improved. Already in the laters 90’s Sillamäe were producing mighty fine lager, and now the beer scene has exploded.

My highest rated beers are:

My Rating Avg Entered Updated
Sillamäe München Hele 4.3 2.86 1/10/2002
Pühaste Sume 4.3 3.71 9/19/2018
Sillamäe München Tume 4.1 3.13 1/9/2002
Purtse Metsik Ida 4 3.09 10/14/2018
Sori Anniversary Barley Wine 4 3.9 11/17/2018
Tanker / Van Moll Animal Instinct 4 3.67 7/22/2020
Nöösker Rahutu Loom 4 3.33 8/31/2020
Tanker Black Pearl Nihiru 4 3.74 2/10/2021
Põhjala Cellar Series - Armchair Detective 4 3.92 9/24/2021

Highest rated breweries:

Pühaste 15 3.3
Pihtla Õlleköök 7 3.26
Kolk Brewery 5 3.2

The second country I visited was Lithuania, first in November 1997. By far and away my best beer memory from there, and quite possibly from anywhere is this day in July 2004: Oakes Weekly – July 29, 2004 - News and Features - Ratebeer
The revelation of an alternate beer universe tucked away in rural communities in northern Lithuania changed my perception of the beer world, widening it from the simplified views from AHA. Wish I had spent more time there to get better understanding, being unfamiliar with both the language and the beer styles.

Still I have tasted only 199 beers from 46 breweries,with an average of 2.69 from Lithuania, making it my 29th most rated country.

My highest rated beers are:

Leičiai IPA 4.3 3.07 10/27/2014
Joalda Joniškėlio Respublika 1919 Filtruotas Šviesusis Alus 4 3.47 11/5/2009
Dalitas Berno 3.9 3.22 7/21/2004
Piniavos Seklyčios 3.9 3.41 11/5/2009 12/14/2009
Dundulis Humulupu IPA 3.9 3.27 10/27/2014
Ragutis Desimtukas 3.8 3.15 1/6/2002
Jovaru Alus 3.8 3.12 11/6/2009 11/9/2009
Ramūno Čižo Kaimiškas Alus 3.8 3.15 11/6/2009 12/14/2009
Vilniaus Tamsusis su Žolelemis 3.8 2.94 12/3/2009
Leičiai Juodasis 3.8 2.64 10/23/2014
Kauno Burmistro Sodrusis Juodasis Alus 3.8 2.86 11/8/2014

Highest rated breweries (the min 5 rating cutoff is seriously limiting here…)

Aline Leičiai 5 3.44
Tarušku Alaus Bravoras 7 3.36
Vilniaus Alus 8 3.33

The last country of these that I visited was Latvia, effectively 2 days later than Lithuania. It remains my least visited of the three, and I have only really spent time in and around the beautiful capital Riga.

Today I have rated 141 beers from 27 breweries with a low average of 2.37, making it my 32nd most rated country. The reason for the low average is an unproportional amount of macro lagers.

Only one real beer dedicated trip to Latvia - a stopover in a steaming hop Riga in summer 2012, where well made local lagers were in focus.

Highest rated beers are:

Brālis Gaišais Nefiltrēts 4.1 3.02 8/5/2012
Malduguns Pazemē 3.9 3.58 7/16/2017
Labietis Pelašķu Velns 3.9 3.49 9/14/2017
Malduguns Seņča Eksistenciālais Tukšums 3.7 3.39 7/13/2017
Malduguns / Zagovor 1984 (2018- ) 3.7 3.51 7/5/2018

Top rated breweries:

Malduguns 5 3.58
Ziemeļu Enkurs 8 3.22
Valmiermuižas Alus 6 2.93
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Even if I haven’t visited any of them. I know they are distinct and might take offence at being lumped together; they are not that small by English standards!
In my limited experience Estonia is currently the standout thanks almost entirely to Pohjala and Puhaste with Sori a very impressive third. They account for an impressive 3.7 average rating.
In contrast, I have only had three Lithuanian beers, all cheap cans and none worth a second tasting. And Latvia has yet to score.
But then that is just a sign of someone who increasingly drinks local and at home. Judging by @omhper this is largely my loss. Some good tips in his list.

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This was possibly the Euro gathering I wished i could have attended most. I remember a few years ago some user wrote a very good guide to Lithuania farmhouse ales that really got me interested in exploring region. I haven’t visited yet.
Estonia - 8 rates but one of which is a Koduõlu which is cool
Lithuania - 3 rates
Latvia - 0 this has been my easiest country I haven’t rated a beer from for many years its #185 on difficulty list if I manage that I’ll jump up to #162 Indonesia

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Latvian History, Geography, Language, Culture and Cuisine

Since @BlackHaddock has elected not to provide any information about this week’s Stat Attack subject, I’d better do so myself.

The pagan tribes of the eastern Baltic were first “civilized” in the 12/13th centuries as the result of a “northern crusade” promulgated by the Pope. They were known as the Knights of the Sword, and had Germanic origins. The towns they founded became members of the Hanseatic league, and later the Livonian order. [ Livonia covered south Estonia and most of Latvia, and was named after the Livs, coastal inhabitants of the area ]

After much bloodshed, involving Denmark, Poland, Russia and Sweden, Latvia came under Swedish control in the early 17th century. Riga was the largest city in Sweden, and consideration was given to moving the capital there. This came to an end in 1719 after the battle of Poltava, when Russia took control over Estonia and most of Latvia. The rest of Latvia followed after the partition of Poland in 1795.

Emancipation of Latvian serfs in the early 19th led eventually to the National Awakening from the 1860s onwards, and much of Latvian literature dates from that period. At the same time there was also a campaign of Russification. Despite all this, up until thev first world war, almost all power and land was in the hands of the German Balts, who made up less that 10% of the population.

In the First World War, the west of Latvia was soon conquered by the Germans, and Riga itself fell in 1917. At the treaty of Brest-Litovsk in early 1918 (in which the Russians exited the war), almost all of Estonia and Latvia was ceded to the Germans. After the Armistice, Latvia declared independence on November 18th 1918. There followed two years of confusing civil war in which there were several armed factions – all fighting each other.

Latvia remained independent until June 1940 when (following the Molotov – Von Ribbentrop Pact), the Russians took control in an unopposed invasion. This only lasted until June 1941, when the Germans marched through on their way to Leningrad. The Red Army fought back, and reoccupied most of Latvia in 1944 (though parts remained under German control until final surrender). Latvia was incorporated into the Soviet Union once more, though there was sporadic partisan resistance for several more years.

In the 1980s there was a growing campaign for independence for all three Baltic States. The highlight of which was the Baltic Way in 1989 which was a 600km long human chain linking Vilnius with Tallinn, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Molotov – Von Ribbentrop Pact, The whole process was known as the Singing Revolution. Independence finally came in August 1991 with the failure of the attempted coup in Moscow. The last Russian soldier left Latvia in 1994.

Latvia joined the EU and Nato in 2004, and adopted the Euro in 2014.

Latvia is roughly the shape of Wales turned 90 degrees clockwise, and about the same size as well. The capital Riga is in the centre, just off the coast. Other major cities are Leipaja (west coast) and Daugavpils (far souyth east). Many cities had their names Latvianised from the Germanic roots in the first period of independence. Often this was obvious (e.g. Wolmar became Valmiera) but sometimes not (Mitau became Jelgava). There are four provinces Kurzeme, Latgale, Vidzeme and Zemgale.

The largest riversare the Daugava, Lielupe, Venta and Gauja. Much of the long coastline is one continuous beach. Much of the country is densely forested. A lot of the land is pancake flat (particularly in Zemgale), but there was some modest hills in the centre of the country. @Wheresthepath will be glad to know that I have been to the highest point in the country. This is Gaizinkalns, an insignificant bump in the clearing in the forest. The Soviets erected a 10 storey observation tower there – which is now derelict. [ It was very difficult to find – when we went we ended up in the same wrong place 3 times ! ]

At the time of independence (1991), Latvians only comprised just over half of the population. This has since increased to 62% (though the actual number has decreased), with 25% Russian. No other group is more than 3%. Many towns have very high percentage of Russian inhabitants. They were relocated in Soviet times to work in specific factories / industries that were established.

Latvian and Lithuanian are the only two surviving Baltic languages (extinct ones include Old Prussian). They are said to be the closest living languages to Sanskrit. They are thought to have diverged from each other in about the 13th century. [ As a Latvian speaker I can recognise about half the words in Lithuanian – the other half are completely different ]. In general Lithuanian is a more complex language with many more cases and endings. Estonian is totally different – similar to Finnish. As is Livonian – though that is virtually extinct.

Latvian is a phonetic language – pronounced like it is spelt. The only trouble is knowing to how pronounce each letter ! It has several accents / diacritics – these have actually only been introduced into the language in the last century, to aid pronunciation.

One of the mainstays of Latvian culture as the song and dance festivals, of which the main one is held in Riga most years. The song festivals feature mass choirs singing Latvian folk songs, and the dance festivals have large groups dressed in traditional customes.

The national epic of Latvian literature is Lacplesis (bear slayer) – dating from the 1880s. The eponymous hero has bear ears and it tells of his fight against the (German) black knight. Lacplesis wins, but drowns in the river Daugava at his moment of triumph. However, it is implied that he will rise again when Latvia needs him.

Another aspect of traditional Latvian culture is the “dainas”. These are short poems or folk songs which date from time immemorium. There are said to be a staggering 3 million of them !

Riga has a medieval / hanseatic old city (Vecriga), which is surrounded on one side by the river Daugava, on the others by the “new town” which includes the largest collection of art nouveau buildings in Europe. Further out there are numerous Soviet era apartment blocks. Riga has 4 birdges over the river Daugava – 5 if you count the railway bridge.

In sport Latvia excels at Ice Hockey and Basketball – these are the only two sports in which they would be expected to beat British teams. Latvian football had its proudest moment when they managed to qualify for the 2004 European championships – and were unlucky not to do better there than they did. Since then the standard has declined steadily until they are now one of the weakest nations in Europe. [ Latvian football teams are almost exclusively ethnic Russians – I don’t know if that is significant ]. Volleyball and chess are also popular. There is no Latvian cricket team – otherwise I would be playing for them !

Apart form Christmas and Easter, the big dates in the Latvian calendar are November 18th (Independence Day) and Jani (midsummer) on June 23rd. Here large bonfire are list to last all (the short) night. People dress up in local costume and wear oak wreaths around their heads. They dance around and jump over the bonfires. Special Jani beer and cheeses are produced and consumed. Young couple elope off in search of the mythical “fern flower”…

There is also the alternative viewpoint that says the best things about Latvia are beer, trolleybuses, strawberries and gorgeous women !

Given its Germanic heritage, it is not surprising that a lot of Latvian cuisine includes pork, potatoes and sauerkraut. A lot of the cuisine includes liberal use of dill, and they love to smother things in sour cream. A wide variety of fish dishes can also be seen. However, my favourite Latvian foods are mostly of the “uzkodas pie alus” (snacks with beer) variety, and include the following Pieragi (bacon buns), Pelaki Zirni (grey peas), Kiploku graudzini (garlic toast) and gherkins.

Latvia is not noted for the quality of its cheese !

One (incidental) benefit of Soviet occupation is that the foods of the other Soviet republics can be readily found in Riga. Armenian, Georgian and Uzbeck for starters. In fact you can find a restaurant for just about any cuisine you can think of in Riga.

Beer is the preferred drink of Latvians, whilst Russians prefer vodka. However, the quintessential Latvian drink is Riga Balsam. “Black as treacle, sharp as lemon” this was said to be the elixir of youth when first produced in the 18th century. It is 45% proof, and is used mostly in cocktails, or added to coffee or lemonade. Nowadays several different versions are produced, including ones with blackcurrant and cherries. The liqueur Allazu Kimmelis made from caraway is also popular.

I shall write more about Latvian beer in a while …

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My ratings for the Baltic states are:

Latvia 22 with top on 3.8 Mūrbūdu Pussauss Apinots Saison Sidrs a hopped cider brewed with Saison yeast

Estonia 18 with top rated on 4 Sori Coffee Gorilla - a very good GF beer

Lithuania 2 with top rated 3.1 Švyturys Baltijos Dark Red

Have never been to any of the Baltic States, in terms of cider the number of active cideries is:
Latvia = 11 active, most entries by Mūrbūdu Sidra Daritava
Estonia= 17 active, most entries by Jaanihanso
Lithuania= 5 active, mot entries by Italiana LT UAB

Top 5 cider ratees lists for each Baltic state are all led by Marduk:

LatviaCider Ratings

EstoniaCider Ratings

LithuaniaCider Ratings

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF LATVIAN BEER.

At the time of independence (1991) there were about a dozen breweries in Latvia. They were still mostly producing beers in Soviet era style. (Each brewery producing under a set range of beer names, though the actual beers differed). Quality control was not their strong point. My dad first visited in 1992, and the bottles he brought back can best be described as “brown water” !

My first visit was in 1994, by which time quality had definitely improved. However, most of the beer available was in bottles, very few places had draft beer. Beer was also sold from small two wheel tankes on the streets – but I never sampled that. The vast majority of beers fell into two categories “gaisais” (light – a lager) and “tumsais” (dark – a dunkel). Aldaris (the largest brewery) also did a Porteris, and a special mention should be made of “Sencu” beers. These were light, hoppy refreshing beers and nowadays are the only Soviet era style that can still be found. Possibly because thew style was invented by a Latvian ! Karlis Zalitris – “the fsather of Latvian brewing” – latterly of Bauskas brewery.

By the time of my third trip (in 1997) draught beer was widely available. That year was also when I first discovered Uzavas beer. This was (arguably) the first new :Latvian brewery since independence. A vanity project of the mayor of Ventspils, it was built by Germans, and so produced German style beers ! The dunkel / tumsais was excellent, and easily the best Latvian beer I’d tasted at that stage. [ Also Uzavas was only on draught, their bottles didn’t become available until 2003 ]

Traditional Latvian beer was cloudy, very sweet and almost flat. Over the next few years beers of this style started to become available again. The brewery that pioneered this was Brengulu. Other notable examples are Madonas and Ezerbruzis. They still use the gaisais and tumsais descriptions, but the beers are quite different. I callthis style “lauku alus” (country beer) but that isn’t an official description. There are some similarities with Lithuanian “kamiskais” beers.

For the next few years the number of Latvian breweries gradually increased. It used to be my intention whenever I visited to drink beers from every single brewery in the country – but I never quite managed it. By 2012 there were around 20 breweries in the country, most still just offering gaisais and tumsais, but gradually getting more progressive. Special mention should be made of Valmiermuiza, wwho not only produced a wheat beer, but also a range of experimental ones.

Craft beer first arrived in Latvia in 2013, with the opening of Alehouse. This was a dual function venue – an inhouse brewery (though initial brews were made by De Molen) and a bottle shop featuring a large variety of imported craft beers. This setup didn’t last long before it split. The brewery (at the same venue) is now Alkimikis, and the bottle shop moved and became Alus Celle.

But the dam had burst. Alehouse were shortly followed by Malduguns and Labietis. Both former homw brewers but taking very different approaches to commercial brewing. Malduguns concentrated on bottled beers, including a huge range of single hop varietals. Labietis set up a brewpub with a unique strategy of pricing beers by the colour of the label. They were also the first to offer beers in smaller quantities. Both have expanded since those early days and remain leaders in the field.

Since then the number of breweries has expanded out of all recognition. Every year sees about 10 new breweries. These new breweries are of all types, traditional gaisais / tumsais, country beer and craft beer. Some have become well established – others have been ephemeral. It’s very hard to keep track.

The number of specialist beer bars in Riga has expanded rapidly as well. Outside the capital I believe there are now craft beer bars in Liepaja and Daugavpils (I haven’t been to either place for several years), but elsewhere in the country it is very difficult to find anything other than mainstream lagers.

As far as finding Latvian beer in the UK goes, a number of the established traditional breweries can be found in Eastern European specialist food shops. I’ve certainly seen Aldaris / Mexpils, Bauska, Cesis, Tervetes, Uzavas and Valmiermuiza. Unfortunately the only Latvian craft beer I’ve seen in this country is Arpus – who are some way off being the best. [ When I first came across them, they were offering 2 beers, a DDH pale and a wheat beer – I couldn’t tell them apart ! ]

I’ll be back with my Latvian stats tomorrow !

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Been to each once, all pre-craft. In 2005 I had a week in Finland, and for something different we took the hydrofoil across to Tallinn for the afternoon before flying to Berlin… except I missed the plane. It was in the bad old days of checking in at the airport, and although I was there an hour before takeoff there was a single queue for both my flight and a later one to London, and the harridan behind the desk had no interest in prioritising the earlier flight, I got to the desk to be told check-in for my flight had closed 4 minutes ago, FFS! So I had a ‘bonus’ day in Tallinn before flying to Berlin 24 hours late, luckily I wasn’t returning to the UK til the day after that, and in those days they only charged €10 to change my flight. Visited the Hell Hunt bar, Beer House brewpub, and a bar whose name I forget but they had a huge range of Estonian beer, albeit in those days just varieties of yellow (and occasionally black) fizzy water. Since then had plenty of Pohjala, Puhaste and Tanker among others, making for 184 Estonian ticks

A couple of years later I had a long weekend, travelling overland from Warszawa to Vilnius where we stayed for 3 nights, then trains to Riga, with an overnight stop in Rezekne, as there was no direct train back then. In Vilnius we went to the Busi Trecias brewpub, there wasn’t much else at the time so just ended up again drinking various bottles of crap lager, I had 35 beers on that trip, and have had a whopping 7 since to take me to 42.

We only had half a day in Riga, and not the good half! found a few bottles while we waited for bars to open, had a couple of draught with lunch then various bottles on way to airport and at the airport. Had 12 on that trip and have had 23 elsewhere since to make 35

Been meaning to get back to all 3, going to Finland soon so will look to include Tallinn again. Usual problem, so many places, so little time! My employer has a scheme to ‘buy’ up to 15 days additional leave, but my application was rejected, cnuts!

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Been to all 3 Baltic states, but the last time in Lithuania as far back as 1989. Visited Latvia last time in 2007, and Estonia last time in 2019.

35 beers from Lithuania, the best:

Sakiškių Chipotle Porter 3.7 3.54 4/19/2017
Utenos Porter 3.5 3.2 9/27/2005
Švyturys White - Baltas Hefeweizen 3.5 3.08 9/13/2006 10/5/2006
Dundulis Kiečių 3.5 3.36 2/24/2017
Volfas Engelman Balta Pinta 3.5 2.98 4/29/2019
Sakiškių India Pale Ale (5.5%) 3.5 3.29 2/2/2020

54 beers from Estonia, the best:

My Rating Avg Entered Updated
Jaanihanso Jää / Ice 4.4 3.78 8/24/2020
Põhjala Öö 4.2 3.96 10/16/2016
Pühaste Dekadents 4.2 3.9 4/28/2019
Vaat Jailhouse Brew 4.1 3.68 4/29/2019
Põhjala Cellar Series - Öö XO 4.1 4.02 2/4/2021 2/4/2021
Põhjala / Verdant Wind Forecast 4.1 3.76 3/31/2021
A. Le Coq Jõuluporter 4 3.11 11/29/2002
Põhjala / To Øl Cellar Series - Taanilinn Cognac BA 3.9 4.04 12/22/2018
Põhjala / Lervig Singing Sands 3.9 3.54 1/22/2022
Põhjala Bänger 3.9 3.92 3/19/2022

24 beers from Latvia, the best:

Aldaris Porteris 3.9 3.42 3/22/2003
Ārpus DDH HBC 431 DIPA 3.9 3.59 6/19/2021
Lido Speciālais 3.7 2.92 7/19/2007
Alķīmiķis Sweet Tramp 3.7 3.18 12/1/2016
Aldaris Porteris Ekskluzīvais 24 3.7 3.25 4/12/2018
Lacplesis Tumsais Dzivs Alus 3.6 2.79 8/9/2007
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Of the three countries, Estonia leads the charge with 35 ratings from 13 breweries, partly thanks to a trade. Top 5 is:

Saku Porter 4.2 3.34 10/23/2014
Sori Investor IPA 4 3.44 2/3/2016
Põhjala Must Kuld 4 3.87 2/9/2016
Põhjala Virmalised GF - Grapefruit Edition 4 3.52 2/16/2016
Põhjala Öö 4 3.96 2/21/2016

I’ve rated 21 Latvian beers from 8 breweries / cideries. Top 5:

Ārpus DDH Nelson IPA 4.1 3.51 5/27/2020
ABAVAS Premium Cider Brut 4 3.32 12/27/2021
ABAVAS Ābolu sidrs Medium 4 3.37 2/14/2022
ABAVAS Ābols Apiņos (Hopped Cider) 3.9 3.39 12/27/2021
Mūrbūdu Pussauss Apinots Saison Sidrs 3.7 3.24 12/19/2019

I’ve rated just 7 from Lithuania, from 5 breweries. If I pulled my finger out I could easily double this with a visit to a Lithuanian / Latvian / Russian shop nearby. Top 5:

My Rating Avg Entered Updated
Sakiškių Bloody Mary Gose 3.7 2.88 7/13/2018
Sakiškių Coconut Milk Stout (4.7%) 3.4 3.38 9/18/2018
Vilniaus Tamsusis Alus 3.4 2.84 11/21/2020
Švyturys Baltijos Dark Red 3.2 2.89 11/8/2020
Švyturys Old Port Ale 2.7 2.73 9/4/2017

Have visited the region just once. I took a road trip to Estonia via Latvia and Lithuania in 2009 with a van load of mates for no reason other than I’d never been there. I had a week free, so the plan was to drive there and back in 7 days, with a day off in Tallinn to go to a music / beer festival. Was a great laugh.

Called in at Vilnius in Lithuania to find the town buzzing with crowds and TV cameras for the inauguration of the country’s first female president. Saw the Frank Zappa memorial sculpture, and on the way out stopped by the bizarre and slightly eerie Hill of Crosses near Šiauliai in the North of the country. It’s a hill where people have been leaving wooden crosses of varying size and detail since the uprising of 1831, numbered at over 100,000 at the time of our visit!

Also visited an old Soviet nuclear missile base in Plokstine, which was fascinating to step inside.

In Latvia we stopped in Riga and saw the entrance to the old KGB headquarters, but we were short on time so besides calling at a few bars didn’t see much else.

We got to Estonia on time and got to the music festival, although I think we spent more time at the beer stands and only caught a bit of Moby. Ended up in the old town and marvelled at the architecture and general historic feel of the area, vowing to return though I havent yet.

No comment on beers / ciders drunk as made no note of them, although embarrassingly there are photos of me with cans of Kopparberg and Kiss!

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I’m half Latvian as my father wss Latvian. Though I was brought up as English. I first went there in 1994, and have been back numerous times since. I have learnt the language, and am passably fluent in it. On my visits I have always been based in Riga, but have visited almost all the large towns in the country. The main exception being Rezekne.

I have rated 98 Latvian beers on RateBeer, from a total of 51 breweries. This puts me in 32nd place in number of rates, and 6th in number of breweries.

Top rated beers are

Labietis Lentenu Kavejs 7.2% Black IPA 4.6
Labietis Kapracis 10.2% Stout 4.3
Aldaris Porteris 6.8% Baltic Porter 4.2
ODU Bitter Than Your Mama 8.4% IPA 4.1
Malduguns Ki 5.5% Brown Ale 4.0
Cesu Bruzu Ziemu Tumsais 5.8% Dunkel 3.9
Uzavas Tumsais 4.9% Dunkel 3.8
Ziemelu Enkurs Vadlinija 5.5% Speciality 3.8
Malduguns Pilotu Nakts 7% Porter 3.7

Lentenu Kaves (name translates as “tapeworm slayer”) is my highest rated beer of all time. It absolutely blew my mind the first time I drank it. It now has a small select following in the Crewe area – due solely to the bottles I have brought back.

Most rated breweries are as follows

Labietis 10
Ziemelu Enkurs 7
Cesu 5
Hopalaa ! 5
Alkimikis 4
Teika 4

As far as my own records go, I have drunk 289 Latvian beers from 69 breweries. Actual totals are higher than that since by records only go back to 2013. I can think of at least another 4 breweries whose beer I drank in the dim, distant past. I have drunk most beers are from these breweries

Labietis 39
Malduguns 16
Alkimikis 12
Aldaris 11
Ilgezeem 11
Ziemelu Enkurs 11
Valmiermuiza 9
Bauska 8

I have rated 41 places in Latvia – which puts me in third place. Hardly surprising as rating Latvian bars was the main reason I joined RateBeer in the first place ! The vast majority of my rates are for Riga, with just a handful elsewhere.

I cant possibly tell you which are the best, but below are the 10 venues I would visit on my ideal pub crawl of Riga (in order of visiting)

Labieties Centraltirgus

Tris Viri Laiva

Lauvas Alus

Labietis

Taka

Alus Celle

O’Paps

Folkklubs

Alus Seta

Egle beer garden

(The last isn’t listed on RateBeer, but I would go there because hopefully there will be a band playing some Creedence Clearwater Revival songs !)

I have only been to Estonia once (pre RB). I have drunk 16 beers from 8 breweries (rated 6 beers). Mainly thanks to Fat Phil and Pohjala.

I have been to Lithuania twice (once pre RB, and once on a dya trip when I wasn’t allowed to visit any bars !). I have drunk 13 beers from 8 breweries, rating 7 beers.

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I went to Vilnius for a weekend in Nov 2006 with my brother. Being younger and more foolish we ended up in a lap dancing bar (not my idea). This was before l was a beer geek so I probably drank a load of macro crap.

On here I have rated:

10 beers from Estonia, from 4 breweries. Average 3.42
9 beers from Lithuania, from 5 breweries. Average 2.52
6 beers from Latvia, from 6 breweries. Average 2.42

So mostly macro pale lagers or possibly the delightful Kvass style - what’s that all about? :face_vomiting:

I hope to visit the area again sometime, maybe Tallinn appeals most.

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My uncle was married to an Estonian American (parents left after WW2). They moved there in 1994. She later moved back to the US but he stayed in Tallinn and later married an Estonian. In fact one of his stepdaughters got into craft beer so took me and the Mrs on a craft beer bar tour*. That was on one of perhaps 6 visits I’ve made to Estonia. My last visit there was a flying visit for a wedding (we were already booked to be in Finland) and I had plans to go ticking however I got the shits. 39 beers from 7 breweries since joining Ratebeer. Will have had way more macro stuff and the craft stuff on more recent pre-RB visit. My uncle just drink one of the pissy lagers which he get from a friend who works for one of the macro lot. Will try and get out there in 2023 as part of a longer visit to Finland.

5 Latvian beers from 4 breweries

8 Lithuanian beers from 7 breweries.

I have a soft spot for Kvass. Reminds me of the Kotikalja my Grandmother in Finland used to make.

  • She later moved to London and was the person who gave me my first Kernel beers.
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