En route from Riga to Tallinn we decided to stop for a few nights in Pärnu, a beach resort known as Estonia’s Summer Capital. As we came out of season it was pretty quiet but that drew no complaints from us. It also saw Poppy’s first experience of staying in a hostel – I think she’s still to be convinced!
Anyway, the town itself turned out to be a lovely little place filled with cafés and restaurants, as well as a beach, a water park and an inordinate amount of statues. There were countless small bars, mainly serving the national beers such as A. Le Coq and Saku, but still nice places to sit out and enjoy a refreshing lager in the unseasonable warmth.
For those in search of craft beer though there are a couple of places in Pärnu worth looking out for. Õllebaar ALIBI, opposite the bus station, had a fairly interesting selection of taps and bottles. However, there was one place that stood out head and shoulders above the rest. Õllepood Nr.2 Gambrinus may be small (there’s only one table) but the range of beers on offer, from Estonia and around the world, was second to none. In fact, we ended up spending a whole Sunday evening (and quite a few Euros!) there – the less said about the morning after, the better. The bottle shop is part of a small chain which also has a branch in Tartu, which we’ll be visiting in a week or so, and we’ll definitely be seeking it out.
We started off sensibly: Poppy opted for Kirss Tordil (5%) from Lehe Brewery, a slightly confused cherry wheat beer, while I went for Pühaste Passion Party (4%), a deliciously refreshing passionfruit Berliner Weisse. The next round saw Poppy throw down the gauntlet with a bold choice, Lehe Põrgukoer (“Hellhound”, 12%), a strong, hoppy, resinous triple IPA. I on the other hand remained relatively down-to-earth with another sour, Põhjala Leevike (“Bullfinch”, 6.5%), a spiced winter ale with cranberries, hibiscus, honey, cinnamon and cloves.
A nice touch about the shop is that if you’re drinking in, you’re allowed to choose beers off the shelves and put them in the fridge to chill while you sample a couple of others. For our next choices, we asked the very friendly and knowledgeable owners to recommend some of their favourites. I ended up with Käbliku Supergillu 4000 (3.8%), another Berliner Weisse but this time brewed with 4000 quinces. Poppy tried Lehe Päikesetõus Salarannas (“Sunrise at the Secret Beach”, 6.2%), a juicy and very hoppy NEIPA which turned out to be her beer of the evening.
As our empty bottles began to pile up on the table, so the shop soon started to fill up with its Sunday evening regulars. One of these brought with him two bags of fish (apparently an Estonian tradition) – one contained dozens of smoked sardines, the other a whole side of bream. I definitely enjoyed this part of the night more than Poppy!
Around this time I decided it was time to move on from sours to something darker. Highlights from the rest of the evening included Must Siid (“Black Silk”, 6.5%), a beautifully smooth porter with hints of vanilla, and Trinity In Black (12.5%), a Pühaste/AF Brew/Zagovor collab imperial stout.
We left at closing time armed with plenty of recommendations for the rest of our trip around Estonia, along with a nice little collection of beers for our upcoming few days in Kuressaare, where the local bottle shop unfortunately recently closed. Big thanks to Martin and Irja for making us feel so welcome and hopefully we’ll be back one day!
I’m in Pärnu for the day, where should I visit? I’m sure you’ve probably worked it out from the article, but unquestionably the best beer place in town is Õllepood Nr.2 Gambrinus (located at Kuninga 36).
Brewery to look out for? I’d tried a couple of their beers before, but after this I’m even more excited for the Põhjala taproom in Tallinn.