After an incredible start to my visit to Lithuania at Apynys Brewery (click HERE to read my blog about Apynys), Tomas and Modestas accompanied me to the second brewery of the tour. Next up Avilys, which is Kaunas’ only brew pub, and a real attraction for people visiting Kaunas’ Old Town.
Kaunas Old Town
Set at one end of Laisves aleja (Liberty Boulevard – also known as Freedom Avenue) is Kaunas Old Town. Like many ‘old town’ areas across European cities, this area of Kaunas is filled with character, history, bars, restaurants and some shops. Also, nearby is Kaunas castle and Kaunas City Museum; a tourist hot spot and a beautiful one at that.
Just on the main street in Old Town, in amongst various other bars and restaurants, is a gastro pub with its own microbrewery on site – Avilys.
Avilys is Kaunas’ only brewpub and used to have a sister site in capitol city Vilnius. The one in Vilnius is still a brewpub under different ownership. More on that in a later blog.
The brewpub is famed for producing honey beer, all brewed on-site, with natural ingredients, unfiltered and unpasteurised. Accompanying it is also a lager-style beer and phenomenal food menu that’s been built with pride, passion and care.
Although you can sit outside Avilys (particularly enjoyable on a warm, sunny day), you don’t truly capture the atmosphere of the place until you enter the building.
With Tomas and ‘Big M’ in tow, I entered Avilys via some stairs that lead you down to the main bar area. And, welcoming me was a wonderfully atmospheric room. I think the only word that kind of explains it is a cavern. Exposed brick and stone walls, stone floor and wooden tables. Low lighting (not too low!) added to the atmosphere and I noticed a staff meeting (we arrived just before opening) where it looked like they were testing one of the deserts from the menu.
The venue is split into different ‘rooms’, and walls decorated with various carvings, statues and pictures, and an interesting case stacked with beer memorabilia which I’ll come to later.
We made our way through the seating area to the bar, where Tomas introduced me to Dainius, the brewer at Avilys.
Although Dainius didn’t speak English, Tomas acted as a very good interpreter! Dainius told us that he has been brewing at Avilys for around two years. The brewing schedule sees him brew 1-2 times per week, however like Augis at Apynys, this can increase depending on the season.
Dainius showed us around the brewery, first showing us the 5 HL brew kit that sits in full view of the restaurant. All copper coloured (inspired by traditional English copper vessels), it’s certainly eye catching. I bet it smells wonderful on brew day!
He then went on to show us around the fermentation and conditioning tanks, and went on to talk a bit more about the beers brewed here.
Uniquely, Avilys often use Lithuanian malt. Caramalt, Munich and Pilsner malts are all used for either the honey beer or the pilsner style beer that they brew here. For hops, it’s Hallertau that’s used.
The honey used in the honey beer is as handcrafted as the beer itself too. The husband of the owner of Avilys is a beekeeper, and so supplies the honey that’s used in the beer. It doesn’t get much more homemade than that!
Once brewed and fermented, the beers are left in the conditioning tanks for up to two months, although again this is reduced dependant on the season and demand.
After showing us around the brewery, Dainius then provided us with a taste of both the honey beer and lager. Served at 2-3°C, it’s really not surprising that this is a popular summer time venue.
The honey beer was nicely balanced, with the sweetness of the honey coming through, but not overwhelming the rest of the character of the beer. And, the pilsner was as fresh and crisp as you’d expect for something that’s brewed and served on-site.
Dainius then went on to talk to us a little bit about the food menu. Carefully selected, the menu focuses on some Lithuanian classic dishes, that of course work well with the beer. I had a look through and was particularly interested in the beer soup with hop butter bread, but didn’t get to try this – next time!
Whilst we enjoyed our beers, it was great to pause a moment and take in the wonderful venue. To the left of the bar, is a showcase of rare and expensive beers that have been collected over the years by the owners.
Including beers from the likes of Carlsberg-owned breweries, English brewing was also represented. Two beers in fact, Worthington-brewed Queen’s and Duke’s Ale from 2002. Also, in the cabinet was an absolutely tiny beer tankard, that needed a magnifying glass. I’m a big fan of small measures, but I think this tankard wouldn’t be so practical!
On the bar were also some beer towers. These go up to five litres in size and are used for parties who want to share the same beer. Apparently, the owner saw the concept in Germany and brought it back with them to Lituania.
Like Apynys, Avilys were very generous and filled two plastic bottles of both their beers for me to enjoy later (which I did!).
My takeaway from this visit was similar to how I felt after Apynys. Avilys feels more like a tourist attraction and gastropub, but there’s still the same passion behind the brewing. Dainius may not have spoken English, but his body language and Tomas’ interpreting skills left me with the impression that this as man who loves is craft and is meticulously into the detail when brewing. The output is tasty beer!
I started this trip with two very different types of breweries, so what could the third offer? Next on the itinerary was Genys, with influence and inspiration taken from one of the UK’s biggest craft brewers. But, you’ll have to wait until part three for that!If you enjoy reading our content, please consider sharing with your friends using the sharing buttons at the bottom of each post. Also, you can subscribe to receive notifications about new blog posts via email. Simply enter your email address into the 'Subscribe to Mike's Tap Room' box at the top left of this page.