Lithuanian Lager Face Off Part 2: the face offening


A few weeks ago, we had a “taste off” between two lithuanian lagers – Utenos and Kalnapilis.

We weren’t blown away by either, but slightly preferred Utenos. This time, though, we went back to our old favourite for comparison – Svyturys.

They’re very proud of Svyturys in Lithuania, and it was one of the first Lithuanian beers to be imported to the UK. They have several varieties. Tonight, we tested Ekstra Draught (unpasteurised), Gintarinis (with a gold label) and Svyturio (with a red label).

Gintarinis is supposedly a pilsner (“Pilsner my arse” – Boak) but is not especially hoppy or “dry”. It’s really a slightly more hoppy version of a helles.

Ekstra (unpasteurised) is the poshest beer in their range, and a Dortmuner type. Its bottle is very swanky – no label except at the neck, with a big logo embossed in the glass. The beer is very nice, and very much “true to style”. It’s hard to say if the “draught” status makes much difference, but its nice to see this kind of thing happening.

They don’t say what type of beer Svyturio is supposed to be – only that it’s a cross between Gintarinis and Ekstra. But it tastes quite different. Guilty admission – we actually did a Pepsi-style blind taste test, and we were only able to identify “red” as different from the other two. It’s much thinner, despite being stronger, and pleasantly bland. It’s also a little lighter in colour.

Gintarinus initially won in the blind test, but as the beers warmed up, it started to smell a bit off. This could have just been an off bottle though.

We can’t quite work out whether Svyturys is a force for good or evil in the beer world. On the one hand, their website boasts such delights as Svyturys Extra Cold, and the tempting promise of “even lighter beers” to come (urgh…). On the other hand, we always enjoy a bottle of it, and even Roger Protz rates it (in “300 Beers to try before you die”).

We’re now going to try and track down the rarer treats in the Svyturys range – Degintas (a baltic porter type), Baltas (a wheat beer) and the most enticing, Baltijos, which according to the website is “distinguished for its hard scum”. Yummmmm.

Boak and Bailey

5 replies on “Lithuanian Lager Face Off Part 2: the face offening”

Good luck finding Baltic porters in London! For some reason none of the brewers that make them want to distribute them in London.

My great hope is to find some in one of the many eastern european corner shops that have opened in the last couple of years. I get the impression most of them “handle their own imports” (although that could be an unfair assumption) and they might just go crazy some time. It’s bizarre that the big importers would think it makes sense to import three different yellow lagers, and not one porter. Because people in London hate stout and porter, right? I did once get Okocim Palone (sp?), which is a Polish smoked porter. Weird – but quite nice.

For Polish beers, there’s a huge import/export business over in West London dealing with this.

My friend Jon (often mentioned on my blog as “Clio Jon”) works for BBC Business News and they did a piece from the warehouse. He asked if they import the porters from the Polish brewers, and the answer was yes, although they had none at that time. So they’re out there somewhere.

Let me know if you find any.

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