Larsblog

Why does Lithuania have such a great beer culture?

I think everyone will agree that for Lithuania to be one of the world's great beer cultures is a bit surprising. For years I've been wondering why this would be, and now I'm finally in a position to propose an answer. And it is really a bit of a puzzler. Right north of the border is Latvia, where they speak a related language, and share the same Soviet heritage, but not the beer culture. Why? ...

Read | 2013-09-30 14:19 | 1 comment(s)

Six favourite Lithuanian beers

After the blog posts about my Lithuanian beer tour Bryan D. Roth invited me to do a post for The Six-pack Project. The idea is to get different bloggers to pick six beers from some country to present what that beer culture has to offer. Having written a lot about different Lithuanian breweries and styles in general, but little about the specific beers, I decided this might be a good way to give a more direct idea of what Lithuanian beer is like. ...

Read | 2013-09-28 09:16 | 1 comment(s)

A short history of the Baltic countries

We don't know much about the history before the advent of writing in the Baltics in the 12th century. People moved here and there, language and genes shifted, they left pottery of various kinds. That's about all we know. Well, almost. We can say a little more. ...

Read | 2013-09-15 16:39 | 0 comment(s)

Thoughts on Big Data

Big Data has really caught on as a buzz word, even well outside the technology world, with journalists writing columns on its consequences for privacy, research, and so on. I'd argue that the Big Data buzz so far has underestimated the importance of this trend, and that its consequences for us all are far more profound than most people realize. I guess that requires a bit of explaining. ...

Read | 2013-09-11 15:06 | 2 comment(s)

Trying to understand Lithuanian beer

Now that I've visited Lithuania three times, and finally gotten to actually meet some of the brewers, I feel I am at last beginning to understand a least a little of Lithuanian beer. This post is my attempt to do a little analysis and put what I've learned into some kind of order. ...

Read | 2013-09-02 20:00 | 3 comment(s)

Joalda, an artist in yeast

I've already told the story of how the "tasting" at Joalda went somewhat off the rails, but there's so much left to say I need another blog post. From the outside the brewery looks like a private dwelling, with a normal house, a little garden pavilion, and something like a combined barn and garage. That, of course, is the brewery. (This is part 5 of the Lithuanian brewery tour.) ...

Read | 2013-08-30 15:44 | 6 comment(s)

Biržų alus, "craft" lager brewers

We roll into Biržai, a small, slightly run down, provincial town in northern Lithuania. It's famous in Lithuania as "the capital of beer", both for all the home brewers, and for the commercial brewers in the town. Biržų Alus, which we're visiting, is clearly no small brewery, since it's housed in a cluster of older buildings around a big yard. (This is part 4 of the Lithuanian brewery tour.) ...

Read | 2013-08-26 20:37 | 0 comment(s)

Ramūnas Čižas, farmhouse brewer

Suddenly, we turn off the road, to stop next to a white-brick barn, decorated with beery graffiti text and drawings. We pass through an opening into a kind of roofed terrace with wooden tables and benches, walls made of woven branches. It's simple, rough, and so pleasing to the eye that I involuntarily say "wow", and not for the last time. (This is part 3 of the Lithuanian brewery tour.) ...

Read | 2013-08-16 14:47 | 7 comment(s)

Vasaknų Dvaro, a manorial brewery

"The 'dvaro' in 'Vasaknų Dvaro', means manor house," the interpreter explains. I try out the concept, asking if a big wooden house we see by the road is a dvaro. "No," she says, "it's big enough, but a dvaro must be fancier than that." The roads turn narrower and bumpier, signs of habitation grow sparse, and then the road turns into a dirt road. Eventually, we turn up a wooded drive, to stop before two large stone buildings in a peculiar style. Now I see what she meant. (This is part 2 of the Lithuanian brewery tour.) ...

Read | 2013-08-12 14:51 | 2 comment(s)

Gintaro, a neighbourhood brewpub

We pull into a parking lot and stop. Everyone looks at each other: why are we stopping? Vidmantas sets off to what to my untrained eye looks like a private house. As it turns out, it is a private dwelling, but also the brewpub of one Gintaras Jucevičius. Hence the name of the brewpub: Gintaro. (This is part 1 of the Lithuanian brewery tour.) ...

Read | 2013-08-09 21:34 | 0 comment(s)

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