Beer Review: Švyturys Švyturio

GOOD news! I’ve ‘discovered’ a new East European shop in London’s East-End. Called Russkiye or Russkija or something similar (I’ll have to check), they are on Bethnal Green’s Cambridge Heath Road. Expect some fun oddities to appear on these pages over the next few months.

As a start, I picked up a £1.45 pence bottle of Švyturys Švyturio. Why did I choose this, when the same Lithuanian brewers’ Ekstra and Ekstra Draught were so unmemorable? Curiosity. And I like the people from the Baltic states. So it would be useful if I could find something from there that I like, besides Estonia’s excellent Viru.

So here it is. A bottle of Švyturys Švyturio. It’s a brown bottle.

Is there anything worth mentioning on the neck-label?

No. It has the familiar (to anyone who has had a Švyturys before) crest, and the rather impressive date of 1784. The big, sort-of-roundel front-label is the real place to case your eyes.

The middle has the big “Švyturys” name and crest logo. Under it, the words “Alus” and “Beer” provide us with a useful translation for that all important word, should one ever be thirsty in Lithuania. There’s a picture of the barley and hops. And, under the Švyturio name, are words which must surely translate into the vital statistics. This must mean that this is your regular 0.5L bottle, and the beer is your Continental standard of 5.0% alcoholic volume.

There’s a red border. Which is important because in Lithuania, they know this beer simply as “Red”. The last little detail you notice is the very welcome “Lietuva”. Welcome because it must be the Lithuanian for ‘Lithuania’. And that’s good, because it means that it wasn’t produced here before being dressed up to look imported, like some big name brands.

So the front-label didn’t say much about what it will taste like. Will the back-label have much to say?

No. There’s almost nothing worth reading on this side of the bottle. We discover that it’s been “pasteurized”. There’s what looks like some sort of description in Lithuanian. In English, there’s the very briefest of ingredients lists. There’s what looks like the name and address of the brewer. A Švyturys-Utenos alus, from a city called Utena.

There’s an incomprehensible formulae to contend with. “Storage Conditions: +2 ÷ +20 °C” is the first time I’ve seen an equation on a beer bottle. Finally, there’s a web address of www.svyturys.lt. To save you time, the English language homepage for Švyturio is at http://www.svyturys.lt/en/main/info/production/svyturio. According to which, Švyturio will have a taste somewhere in between that of the rich Ekstra and of light and watery Gintarinis; which I haven’t yet tried.

What am I hoping for with Švyturys Švyturio. Not much. I’m keeping those expectations low, in the hope of being impressed. It is, I presume, Pilsner style lager beer, so the hopes are for some taste of hoppiness and a light, refreshing and drinkable beer that isn’t watery. Will it manage that? There’s only one way to find out.

In my pint glass, my fridge cooled Švyturys Švyturio looks much like any other lager. Carbonated and pale yellow, with a thin white head.

What does Švyturys Švyturio smell of? Not a lot. You’d be hard-pressed to notice the slight whiff of hops.

What does Švyturys Švyturio taste like? The first couple of gulps are easy enough. The website described it as having a “rich taste and bitter freshness of hops”. That seems as good a description as any. I think I can reduce it even more. It’s a lager, and one of the most lagery lagers I’ve tried.

With no flavour, it’s all in the taste. This one has a mild take on the familiar malted barley theme. Where it really delivers is in that familiar lagery “bite”, so beloved of lager heads. And it’s a bitterness that lasts, long after the gulp.

What am I like about Švyturys Švyturio? I admire its straightforward lagery-ness. Instead of taking the full-taste or light route of its cousins, it is instead hitting the lager mainstream right in the face. It is light and crisp. It tastes like they used good quality ingredients. All of which make it fairly drinkable.

What aren’t I enjoying about Švyturys Švyturio? The same thing I admire it for. That most lagery of lagery-ness. Just personal taste mind. Bear that in mind before you fire off an angry comment. I’ve never liked that lagery “bite” that this, and others have. Compared to the great lagers, it doesn’t have the hoppy character. And that “bite” makes it less drinkable, and less refreshing than other lagers.

I’m not a fan of Švyturys Švyturio. But I’m sure a lot of you lager heads will love it. As a lager, it’s good. But I’ll have to keep looking for that favourite Lithuanian beer.

Rating: 3

Have you tried Švyturys Švyturio? What did you think of it? Leave your translations, corrections, opinions, recommendations and places to buy, here, in the comments.

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10 Responses to “Beer Review: Švyturys Švyturio”

  1. vilnius calling Says:

    if you want to find a really good lithuanian beer – http://tikrasalus.lt/category/stiliai/lietuviskas/.
    almost all the posts have an english summary at the end.

  2. klaipeda Says:

    can’t say anything about those “true” lithuanian beers. most friends say that they are much too bitter. my personal favorite is Svyturys Extra. perfect lager, with crisp taste. and I can buy it in almost every tesco when i’m in the uk :)

  3. Dan Says:

    Svyturys Svyturio is quite a good beer, but not not my personal favourite, I prefer ŠVYTURYS traditional collection. Wheat( Baltas) or dark beer called Baltijos, those are pretty amzing :)

  4. Meteora Says:

    Yea, you should definitely try Švyturio Baltija, the dark beer with rich taste, really good one :) Try looking for it in Lithuanian shops in London.

  5. Amber Says:

    Švyturio Baltijos has that nice long lasting rich sweetish taste, one of my favorite :) Švyturio Wheat (baltas) is pretty good too, though i’m not a big fan of wheat beer :)

  6. Joe Says:

    I haven’t tried Svyturys Svyturio, but my personal favorite from Svyturys is Ekstra draught. It has a flavour that is part sweet, slightly bitter and just all around a great beer and it’s non-pasteurised :) This one i like the most from all lithuanian beer :)

  7. Rob Says:

    Well i could say that from Baltic States Svyturys is the best beer. “Svyturio” is quite good but i would agree with Joe and say that my personal favorite is “Svyturys Ekstra Draught”. But all “Svyturys traditional collection” is nice. Dark beer – “Baltijos” was a pleasant surprise and their wheat beer “Baltas” is delicious!

  8. andrew Says:

    i think svyturys extra is the best of svyturys :)

  9. Irmantas Says:

    Try “Svyturys Gintarinis”, best for me from svyturys =]

  10. Anonymous Says:

    i got it in a can from that same shop. tastes like metal

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