Are You Tasting the Pith? - 25th April 04
Some real treats for you (or if I'm realistic, me) this week. Monsieur, wiz zeese Lithuanian bieres, you are spoiling us. Sorry. Collected from a recent trade fair (a frequent cry around these parts at the moment), three beers from the Lithuanian Svyturys brewery.
Firstly, the gold medal-winning Svyturys 'Ekstra' (5.2% abv), a Dortmunder-style lager (pale, crisp, hoppy) has a good grain character, a pleasingly light palate with a hint of light hoppiness well into the grainy finish. Dry and satisfying. Svyturys 'Svyturio' is the standard lager (I'm guessing), 5% abv, and again, light clean and fresh, although perhaps lacking the persistence of the 'Ekstra'. Finally, the 'Baltijos' dark lager (6% abv) is a Vienna style lager, not quite dark and fruity enough to be a black lager, but with plenty of pleasing caramel and toffee notes.
Another Lithuanian brewery is Utenos [no English site available], who are notable particularly for their Porteris (6.8% abv), which I'm guessing is Lithuanian for porter, given the colour and strength of this beer. However, what this lacks in the hoppy dryness of a British porter, it makes up for in the wonderful cherryish, chocolatey finish to this sweetish, quite thick beer. If you've ever had those wonderful chocolate-encased cherries in liqueur, you know where I'm coming from.
The other two house beers, Utenos Alus (5% abv) and Utenos Premium (5.2% abv, which I am swigging from the bottle as I write) are pleasant enough, with light hop character and a nice enough grain flavour, and while perfectly acceptable (or better), are nothing that inpires me to write any more.
While the name Le Coq is synonymous with Imperial Stout, it appears that Messrs. Le Coq have turned their hands to a slightly more commercial beer, and very nice it is too. Le Coq Premium (5% abv) is something of a surprise, as its eye-catching, embossed, octagonal bottle screams "GIMMICK ALERT!", which would normally make me run a mile.
However, this beer is excellent - it has a lovely vanilla / grain aroma, and a delicate hoppy palate (not much malt here). The long hoppy finish is remiscent of 'wobbly' Warsteiner, and is dry and moreish. Recommended, if delicate hoppy lagers are your thing, and you should give it a try anyway.
Some of these beers are reviewed in the tasting notes pages, notably Ekstra, Porteris and Le Coq Premium.
19th July, 04: A note from my Estonian correspondent reads "Dear Beerboy, I write to you from Estonia to ask you to alter your review of
A Le Coq. My Estonian mates all tell me that it is certainly Estonian though you fail to mention this, and that the weird bottle originates from a design over 100 years old (I've verified this myself). Its good, but not half as good as Saku brewery's 'Original', which is the local beer of choice. Update your site and you may find a little Saku Christmas porter dribbling down your throat in no time at all; failure, I am told, will result in..." - the message is unrepeatable after this point.
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