My Lithuania Beer Adventure Part VI – Kuro Aparatūra

After visiting the wonderful Sakiškių Alus on the outskirts of Vilnius, Tomas and I headed back towards the centre to visit our second brewery. One of two breweries in Vilnius centre, our next stop was Kuro Aparatūra.

Fuel Apparatus

When we arrived at Kuro Aparatūra, we were greeted into the brewery by Andrius and Tadas. Andrius with brewing experience, and Tadas with a background in advertising and currently also an international DJ. The mood was extremely (and infectiously) buoyant.

Kuro Aparatūra

Apparently, on the morning of our visit, the Kuro Aparatūra team had just had a very successful meeting with their financing team. The result was confirmation they could begin bottling. A day for celebration!

Set in the centre of Vilnius, Kuro Aparatūra literally translates as “Fuel Apparatus” or “Fuel Equipment”. The name Kuro Aparatūra is taken from an old, now closed, diesel engine factory of the same name in Vilnius. This factory was the largest during the Soviet times and is well known amongst the natives, which makes this a great name for the brewery. Now, the factory is being converted into new flats.

Kuro Aparatūra have only been brewing just over a year. Having originally started gypsy brewing, they moved into their new home in December 2017.

The Perfectionist

Andrius started our tour around the brewery. The brew kit here is 40 years old, with no automation. In fact, it was originally used for making Kvass. Kvass is a traditional Baltic alcoholic drink. This is commonly made with rye bread and brewed to low ABV. The process is very similar to brewing beer, which the equipment at Kuro Aparatūra has now been adapted to do.

The brew house

The brewery did feel quite clinical. Very clean, with white walls and a tiled floor. We also had to wear some plastic shoe covers to avoid any contamination. These are obviously people who are keen to protect the quality of their beers.

Andrius went on to explain that the brewing capacity here is around 8 tonnes per month. This is around 14,000 imperial (UK) pints. The age of the kit and little automation also meant brew days could last up to 16 hours!

We were then introduced to Gediminas Milkevičius, Head Brewer. Gediminas’ background is as an IT Business Consultant. In his spare time, he loved snowboarding and home brewing. He decided to leave his job and take up brewing professionally.

Grain mill

Speaking to Gediminas, he is truly passionate about beer, and a near perfectionist when it comes to quality and taste. He will continually tweak recipes and brews to make sure they meet great standards. It also came across that he was critical of his own brews, which underlines the constant strive for perfection. Gediminas was fantastic to talk to, and he took great pleasure in sharing the beers with me and Tomas.

Black English Session IPA

There were quite a few beers to try, with Gediminas leading the tasting. First up we tried their flagship beer ‘Maukas’. This 4.1% beer is brewed using Vienna Malt, Cascade hops and English yeast. In keeping with Gediminas’ strive for perfection, they also do a version using American yeast. I got to try both and, although the differences were minimal, the US yeast version did taste a little crisper. Both were very tasty and quaffable!

We then tried ‘Marakešas’ (Marrakech), a 5.2% hopfenweizen. It’s given this name due to the spice and fruit flavours the beer provides. This one had very enjoyable light wheat and citrus fruit flavours.

Gediminas collecting some tasters

I also got to try one of their as-yet unreleased beers. A 3.8% English Bitter style beer brewed with Maris Otter malt and Cascade hops. The result was a well-balanced beer, with biscuit and bitterness coming through, and a light dry finish.

Gediminas was also experimenting with a black session English IPA. I must admit, not a style I’ve seen before. This was a 3.7% beer, brown and murky in colour, with hops dominating the flavour. Gediminas was most critical about this one, so it had a few more tweaks to go through, although I enjoyed it.

They also brew a Belgian-style Dubbel. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any of the 7.4% ‘Dvejenas’ for me to try. Perhaps next time!

Stubbies

With the beers flowing and mood continuing to be so positive, the team went on to tell me more about the new bottles. That day had been such a milestone for the brewery and you could see that in their eyes. The style of bottles they’ve chosen is ‘stubbies’ – a short bottle, unique to the Lithuanian market (from what I’ve seen). They also had some preliminary label designs which they proudly showed off. I’m pleased to have been back to Lithuania since and seen these bottles now available in bars.

A Maukas Stubby

I could genuinely have stayed at Kuro Aparatūra for the rest of the day. Gediminas, Tadas and Andrius showed such passion and enthusiasm for what they were doing. Indeed, Tomas in the end had to hurry things along so we could be at our next brewery in time.

Later in the evening I was hosting a talk and Leeds Brewery tap takeover at Prohibicija Bar in Vilnius. Fortunately, here I got to talk more with Gediminas and Tadas. They were both so interested in the UK beer scene, and especially the brewing heritage of Leeds.

Having enjoyed a wonderful time at ‘Kuro Aparatūra’, it was time for me to visit our third and final brewery of the day. Once the sister venue to Avilys in Kaunas, the next venue was Craft and Draft Brewpub. More on my visit here in a future post.

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