Larsblog - beer

Norwegian farmhouse ale

It's a well-kept secret that in Norway there exists a homebrewing tradition completely separate from the modern homebrewing that's taken off in the last few decades. The traditional homebrewers don't make porter and IPA, instead they make stjørdalsøl, konnjøl, maltøl and other old styles that hardly anyone outside of Norway ever heard of. Michael Jackson visited some of these brewers back in 1995, but since then things have been quiet. ...

Read | 2013-10-27 13:24 | 14 comment(s)

Impressions of the Riga beer scene

When I landed in Riga, I have to admit I was more curious about the state of Latvian beer than about the city itself. Specfically, I wanted to know whether there were beers of the Lithuanian farmhouse ale type being brewed in Latvia. My sources were telling me no, but I figured there's always a chance. If nothing else, it should be fun to search. ...

Read | 2013-10-07 19:00 | 1 comment(s)

What is craft beer?

I've made a point of never discussing definitions, because all definitions are tautologies. That is, a definition can never be wrong. If I say, "I define horse to be 'any creature which has three legs and one horn'", then nobody can tell me that's wrong. I'm simply notifying you that this is how I use the term. What you can say is that nobody else uses the term that way, and that you don't believe there are a whole lot of things which can be called horses under my definition. ...

Read | 2013-10-04 13:58 | 2 comment(s)

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)

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 | 12 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)

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