You might not expect Riga, Latvia to have a huge craft beer scene, and at first glance, you’d be right. However, recent entrants to the market give Riga an exciting beer future.
The craft beer wave is sweeping through Northern Europe and slowly descending downward and eastward. Estonia has a particularly robust scene that rivals that of Finland, but Latvia is beginning to see quality brewers as well.
Here are a couple of my favorite craft beer bars and breweries in Riga:
Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs
Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs has everything. Conveniently located in a dark, semi-dingy basement in Riga’s old town, it’s a gathering spot for locals & tourists of all ages. It feels like something out of The Hobbit.
If you’re looking for live music, they’ve got it. You might also be lucky enough to hear a Latvian cover of a Weezer song, which is just as glorious as it sounds.
They have cheap Latvian bar food covered as well, as I wrote about in my last post about food in Riga.
Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs also has the best craft beer selection in Riga, featuring both taps & bottles from Latvian craft breweries such as Malduguns, Aldaris, Viedi, and more.
While the bar can get crowded to the point that service suffers a bit, as long as you can get a beer, Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs is a great spot to sit back and have a good time every evening.
Alus Darbnica Labietis
Alus Darbnica Labietis has only been around since 2013, but in my opinion they are the best and most inventive craft brewers in Latvia.
The brewery has two locations: the main brewery, which is a mile or two northeast of the old town, but easily accessed by walking or public transportation, and an outpost in Riga Central Market. I visited both while I was in Riga.
The main brewery has a massive outside patio that must be packed on summer days. Inside, there is also plenty of seating, along with helpful bartenders that are knowledgeable about the beer that rotates through their 12 taps.
The bartenders also have a great sense of humor. One of my favorite things about visiting Riga was the local humor, which is tough to explain, but it’s the sort of optimistic sarcasm that comes with being a fairly recently free nation. Example: One of the bartenders in Alus Darbnica Labietis, upon a couple of British tourists being apologetic that they only had a 20 Euro note to pay for their beers, said deadpan, “We can get through this.”
I had a similar experience buying a drink in a convenience store, when I only had a 2 Euro coin and got a response of “challenge accepted.” Perhaps I’m just too accustomed to local store owners who scowl about having to give change, but I was amused.
Back to the beer, Alus Darbnica Labietis is quickly gaining a reputation in Latvia for having some very creative beers. The brewers & the rest of the staff will go on field trips into the local countryside and forests to find ingredients for their beers. While not every beer will be everyone’s cup of tea (or beer), kudos to them for always trying new things.
They do typical pale ales, IPAs, and double IPAs well of course, but other beers I tried included Radzins, made from a typical Latvian Wheat Bread With Caraway; Ausma (Dawn), which had ginger & peppermint added; and Pļava (Meadow), which was made with local herbs.
If you’re into creative beers & you’re in Riga, be sure to visit Alus Darbnica Labietis. If you’re not yet convinced, here is their awesome logo.
Riga’s craft beer scene is just beginning to grow, but with great bars such as Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs and quality nascent breweries such as Alus Darbnica Labietis, the future of local beer drinking is bright.
Read more posts from my trip to Northern Europe:
A trip through Northern Europe & the Baltics – Introduction
American Express Centurion Lounge San Francisco SFO review
American Airlines First Class Airbus A321T San Francisco SFO to New York JFK review
A quick layover in New York City from JFK airport
American Airlines Flagship Lounge New York JFK review
American Airlines Business Class Boeing 767-300 New York JFK to Manchester MAN review
Holiday Inn Express Glasgow City Centre Riverside review
Upperdeck Airport Lounge Glasgow GLA review
Aspire Lounge London Heathrow LHR Terminal 5 review
Hotel Skt. Petri Copenhagen, Denmark review
Copenhagen, Denmark – Museums on a rainy day
Copenhagen, Denmark – Nyhavn, Christiania & more
Craft beer in Copenhagen, Denmark – The Mikkeller bars
Aviator Airport Lounge – Copenhagen CPH review
Norwegian Air Economy Class Boeing 737-800 Copenhagen CPH to Riga RIX review
Radi Un Draugi Hotel Riga, Latvia review
Riga, Latvia – Exploring the Old Town
Riga, Latvia – Museums & a tough 20th century
Riga, Latvia – Street markets & food
Craft beer in Riga, Latvia
Lux Express Riga, Latvia to Tallinn, Estonia review
Hotel Bern Tallinn, Estonia review
Tallinn, Estonia – Exploring the views of the Old Town
Tallinn, Estonia – Exploring Patarei Prison
Craft beer in Tallinn, Estonia
Eckero Finlandia ferry Tallinn, Estonia to Helsinki, Finland review
Holiday Inn Helsinki – West Ruoholahti review
Helsinki, Finland – Exploring the food markets & city centre
Helsinki, Finland – Exploring the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
Craft beer in Helsinki, Finland
Finnair Lounge Helsinki HEL non-Schengen review
Finnair Business Class Airbus A321 Helsinki HEL to London Heathrow LHR review
American Airlines Flagship Lounge London Heathrow LHR review
American Airlines First Class Boeing 777-200 London Heathrow LHR to Dallas-Fort Worth DFW review
American Express Centurion Lounge Dallas-Fort Worth DFW review
American Airlines First Class Boeing A321S Dallas-Fort Worth DFW to San Francisco SFO review
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