There are admittedly more beer-crazed cultures than others, but on the whole it’s become increasingly easy to get one’s paws on a delicious beer no matter where in the world you are. We’ll even propose that some of the most exciting craft beer offerings can be found in the most unlikely places. So with that, we’re off to a seemingly obscure spot on the Baltic Sea – a small city by the name of Riga.
At the mouth of the Daugava river lies Riga, the capital of Latvia and the largest of city of the Baltic countries. The quiet and unassuming city has flown under most people’s radars as a destination, but since being named the European Capital of Culture in 2014, Riga seems to be at last receiving the attention it’s always deserved.
Throughout their history Latvians have had to fight hard for their national and cultural identity. It’s hard to find much time in their national narrative when they weren’t under the control of one empire or another, and that struggle has produced in them a determination to retain the essence of what it means to be Latvian. One example can be found in the conflicted nature of their beer.
Since antiquity Latvians have engaged in the brewing of fermented wheat-based drinks. Like many other cultures they developed their own distinct styles by incorporating the natural ingredients found in the area around their settlements. Although no matter how these time-honored traditions were passed on, the creativity in brewing and ensuing diversity of flavor brought about by the use of local herbs, spices and berries eventually came under fire. During the nineteenth century there was a very large German presence in Latvia, particularly in Riga. The German’s lager-leaning outlook on beer would permeate the Latvian landscape, not to be challenged for a long time to come.
Best Beer in Riga Latvia
Finding the best beer in Riga, Latvia correlates directly (albeit negatively) to the most ubiquitous beer in Latvia. The key to finding the best beer in Riga is to steer clear of anything produced by the country’s major commercial breweries. With the rise and spread of craft beer, Riga is now home to a few microbreweries. These operations are in a sense returning to the traditions of their ancestors by brewing beer for quality not quantity. Among these Riga-based microbreweries are other establishments whose thirst for hand-crafted beer seems unquenchable.
Best Bars in Riga
Between the three microbreweries in town, Labietis, Bierhaus and Valmiermuižas alus, a few great bottle shops and a handful of bars, there are some truly exceptional places to sample craft beer in the Latvian capital. Bottle shops stocking a highly curated selection of craft beer from breweries throughout Latvia and the rest of Europe are a solid choice, as are the many bars in the city that offer rotating taps of top-notch drafts. We recommend utlizing our list as not only a roadmap for the best bars in the city, but the best beer in Riga, Latvia.