Wednesday 2nd October 2013
After several days travelling, myself and companions eventually arrived in Kaliningrad. This is a massive sprawling city with a population of around a half million. It has had a chequered history, as up to 1945, it was the German city of Königsberg, the capital of East Prussia, until it became Russian and part of the Soviet Union. Until 1991 as the Kaliningrad oblast (province), it was part of the huge land mass that was the Soviet Union but then that broke up, and although it was part of Russia, it became isolated as Lithuania had regained its independence and lay between Kaliningrad and the Motherland. In fact it is now surrounded completely by the European Union, with borders with Lithuania and Poland, from where I had arrived earlier that day.
Should you ever be walking along Ulitsa Alexander Nevskogo in Kaliningrad, you could not help but be aware that Pivovar (Brewer) was a pub selling beer. The whole of the four storey facade is designed to resemble a huge foaming beer glass and it looks great in the dark. On the occasion of this visit I was accompanied by faithful beer drinking stalwarts Russell, Patrick and Vaughan. We were quite surprised that, on entering the pub, that it was a downstairs bar.
After checking in our coats to the babushka at the door and receiving a numbered token, a free process, we entered the pub. Just a note regarding the depositing of coats; this is normal in Russia and it is very sensible in winter when they are covered in snow or are wet. Once inside we could see that the room was L-shaped with the bar on the two inside parts of the L. It was in the fake "English Pub" style with lots of varnished dark wood, yet was very comfortable. The gleaming brewery was seen at the far end of the room.
The waitress came with four menus but when she heard us speaking in English she went away and brought back a new set in that language. This was very useful as we intended to eat as well as drink beer. There were four beers on offer and please find below the original descriptions as given on the menu. I have not listed them to provide a laugh but more to show what the intentions of the brewer were.
Gold Pils/Золотой Пилс. "Its foamy cap sparkles with the bubbles and its flower bouquet and malt taste complete with exiting bitterness."
Brazen Lager/Медный Лагер. "With amber shine, fresh hop aroma and savoury sharp bitterness. The natural sediment of yeast is possible."
Schwartzbier/Шварцбир. "Dark lager with notes of baked bread, caramel and chocolate taste and juicy warming ending."
Weizen/Вайцен "Seasonal wheaten with fruit aroma. Perfectly quench one's thirst. Yeast of riding fermentation are used. It is quite possible to be a natural sediment of barm."
Between us we had all of these beers and this is what we thought of them: Gold Pils was just a light lager with not enough bitterness to be a Pils. Brazen Lager; brazen is an old word meaning bronze-like and that was its colour. We all thought it was quite good, having a nice balance between malt and hops.
Schwartzbier was probably the best, as it had all the required dark tastes yet was also quite bitter. It was a very refreshing beer. Patrick had a Weizen and said it was fine, but thought it was more in the Belgian style than the Bavarian version as it had some fruit / spice flavours.
According to the main menu there should have been a seasonal beer and that details were at the table. However, there was nothing displayed and when I enquired to the waitress; she said that there wasn't one at that time.
We all thought the food was good and the menu was very extensive featuring all types of meat and fish plus sausages, salads and soups. Like most Russian restaurant meals it wasn't cheap; about the same as that you would pay in the UK or US, however the portion sizes were truly colossal. So, in conclusion this brew-pub is recommended and is worth the journey out of the city centre. There is another branch at M. Borzova 93a but we think the beers all come from the pub discussed in this article.
Restoran-Pivovarniya Pivovar/Пивовар, ul A. Nevskogo 137b/Ул А. Невского 137б
Tel: (4012) 586999
Open: Monday-Sunday 12.00-02.00
There are many bus routes along Alexander Nevskogo Street. Most, if not all, operate to and from Victory Square (pl. Pobedy/пл. Победы), the centre of the city.
The pub is around 3 kilometres north of the square and is on the road towards the airport.
The main station has, apart from local services within Kaliningrad province, long distance trains to Moscow and St Petersburg daily, also to other places in Russia and Belorus operating every two days. These all run via Lithuania so it is fairly easy to get to Kaunas and Vilnius. The rail service to Poland and Germany no longer seems to operate. There is a good bus service to the other Baltic States and a frequent route to Gdansk in Poland.
The airport mostly serves Russian destinations but also Copenhagen and Riga.