The Session - Beer Blogging FridayBoak and Bailey, a London-based beer blog, is the host for Beer Blogging Friday Session #15. The topic is: “the moment when you saw the light. At what point did you realize you were a beer lover / geek / enthusiast? What beer(s) triggered the conversion? Did someone help you along your way, or did you come to it yourself? In short; how did you get into good beer?”

I guess I laid a good foundation some good 13 years ago, when I was still a fresher at my Uni. Budget was rather tight those days so lunch, dinner (during weekends breakie as well) was substituted by a few steins of thick (and filling!), sweetish liquid bread, quite well known back then, called “Biržiečių”. I was very keen on it as well as on others, perhaps less nutritious liquid substances.

The culture shock and understanding that there can possibly be MANY varieties of good beer appeared to me when I arrived to England for the first time, through one of the student exploitation programs to work in a farm near Bishopthorpe, North Yorkshire. Here I had a first taste of my true local, where after grueling day I’d come to wash away my sweat n’ dust with a help of a few pints. The best known “foreign” beer to me at that time was “Guinness” and I was tempted to try something yet unexplored. Dewy beads running down the cold glass, summery rain watering the road and grass was greener whilst I was whistling my way back.

Two years later, my lab assistant position at Uni would give me a chance to do regular trips to London for a weekly frenzy of clubbing, record buying and drinking sessions. There was no hangover that couldn’t be successfully cured by a full english at a local greasy spoon and a few pints and I still have this special feeling about morning on a couch at the canal side pub, watching narrowboats and hangover passing buy. I was already getting used to vast selection of beers and ales and my fascination with the pub atmosphere, names, happy hours, old folks with daily papers under their arms, hand pumps and other paraphernalia was growing – even though I still didn’t bother too much to distinguish my bitter from stout. Just as I wasn’t able to tell the difference between my Kruskowice and Kozel on my jaunts to Chech Republic – but I could already taste the proper quality. The light was almost there.

The breaking point eventually came in autumn of 2005 when I was invited to work for a company in London. I was given a new apartment in Isleworth, a nice and green residential area in west London. The night after moving in I was strolling around and just a couple of streets away from my place I stumbled upon a pub with reggae vibes and lights shining through the windows and it’s banners dangling in the wind. I listened to the call, entered “Red Lion” and it became my teacher in ales and a favorite local pub ever. Later I read that the banners said “Voted one of the best boozers in London by CAMRA”. I didn’t yet know what CAMRA was but with vibrant community, live music bands, theater, poetry readings, beer festivals with BBQs at rear beer garden every bank holiday weekend I saw why it’s the best boozer. With 7 different beers on tap and 4 changing every night, I was hooked. With ales that finally struck me with shining light – Hog’s Back Brewery’s “TEA”, Timothy Taylor’s “Landlord” and the festival favourite – Hopback’s “Summer Lightning” – I was converted.

The person who brought the further knowledge of what I was drinking upon me, was C.J.J. Berry, well, it rather was his book “Homebrewed Beers & Stouts” that I bought in local charity shop for 50p. Reading how easy it is to brew your own beer gave me the impulse to order my first brewing kit, borrow a plastic bucket from co-worker, buy a thermometer in a drugstore and start my first batch in the shower room.

I was just about to move to another apartment at the time, but couldn’t wait. The estate agent was showing the place to the interested tenants while I was absent. I can only imagine her (and the potential tenant’s) face when they entered my shower-room-come-brewery with a plastic bucket spitting foam and funny smells. The next day I came to my hi-tech work, everybody knew about it and I was receiving winks and cheeky smiles.

The results were more than inspiring and so I’m brewing a new batch every now and then, learning on my way. I am not able to visit “Red Lion” every night anymore as I’m back to Lithuania, but I’m flying to London after-tomorrow – to try a few pints during their still ongoing Mayday Beer Festival. Let the light be with me.

Panašūs įrašai:

Tagged with:

7 Responses to Session#15 – how did it all start for you?

  1. Boak says:

    What a great post – I really enjoyed reading it.

    Baltic porter for breakfast!

  2. Boak says:

    PS. We’ve got some Birzieciu in…

    Also, one of our many local shops has started stocking a range from “Rinkuskiai” – are these any good? I’ve never seen them before.

  3. purlygrrrl says:

    I recently moved to that part of London near Iselworth and I’ve been meaning to go to the Red Lion! Your post just reminded me I need to do this ASAP!

  4. Kukas says:

    Dėl dievo meilės, išjunkit tuos snapshotus. Nei gražu, nei kas juos žiūri.

  5. bieksia says:

    It’s difficult to find a ‘bad’ beer in Lithuania. Some are very good yet highly over rated. (It’s a matter of national pride)
    As for my tastes…. Birzietciu Alaus ranks among the highest!
    I like to refer to it as ‘Dinner in a Bottle’
    As always, something is lost in the process of putting in a bottle.
    The bottle pales in comparison to Bizietciu on tap!

  6. marsav says:


    Birzai is a city in the heart of the region that is best known as traditional beer-brewing region of Lithuania. That´s why several breweries chose its name to brand their beers.

    Birzai is hometown for both ´Birzu´ and ´Rinkuskiai´ breweries, the first being one of the oldest breweries in Lithuania while the second probably the youngest (established by two enthusiastic homebrewers in 1991, just after Lithuania regained independence.)

    ´Rinkuskiai´ produces a range of beers, the range varying more in the alcohol by vol than in types, tastes or aromas. In general most of them, including one called ´Birzieciu´, are malty, well ballanced lagers with little aroma, still perfect for quenching thirst on a hot summer day.

    Another ´Birzieciu´ is being produced by ´Kaunas alus´ brewey in Kaunas (formerly known as ´Zalsvytis´as well as being conjoined with ´Ragutis.´) This is the thick and sweet porter (the brewery chose to call it stout) that I was indulgind during my University years.

    Sorry for late reply, I am currently traveling Peru. As a beerhunter Michael Jackson used to joke, he wouldn´t even be able to think of a reason to go to South America – but he probably didn´t try chicha, which is a beer produced from local maize since pre-Inca times. I will post more on this someday later…


  7. […] from Lithuania tells us that, despite drinking baltic porter/barley wine for breakfast as a student, he didn’t really get into beer until he found himself working as cheap labout in Yorkshire […]