Poppy and I aren’t exactly known for our love of hot weather, so we thought Latvia in May would be a safe option. How wrong we were. We arrived in Cēsis (average May temperature 17°C) to find the thermometer pushing 30°C even in the shade, hence the title of this blog post!
Having had a quick look online beforehand, I arrived in Cēsis not expecting to find much in the way of beer apart from the old abandoned Cēsu Brewery (they recently moved to a shiny new building on the edge of town), so instead I was looking forward to a few relaxed days doing some sightseeing. However, as Poppy will tell you I’m sometimes not the best at seeing what’s right in front of me. Within five minutes of her taking a look she had spotted a number of places that looked like they might be worth a visit, including the town’s very own microbrewery.
I’ll come on to the beer soon, but first a few words about Cēsis. This was definitely one of the nicest towns we’ve been to so far, with a really relaxed atmosphere, a wealth of restaurants and cafes, lots of parks and green spaces, and just a couple of miles from the natural beauty of the Gauja National Park. It’s easily accessible by train from Riga and well worth a visit if you’re in Latvia for any extended period of time. It also gave us our first experience of a homestay during our trip, which I could probably write a whole article about by itself!
Our bags dropped off (although we decided to keep our passports with us as the house we were staying in had no locks, even on the front door), we headed into town in search of the microbrewery, Trimpus. We half expected it to be closed as we hadn’t been able to find confirmed opening times online, but when we got there we were lucky to find they’d decided to have an impromptu Sunday opening due to the warm weather. They only had two beers on (although it looked like there were usually four or more), so we decided to try them both: Rietumcēsu, a very hoppy 5.6% West Coast IPA, and Māmiņa, a 5% wheat beer with the classic banana and orange peel flavours typical of the style.
The other real beer destination in town was Café 7 Bar, a really nice little place with lots of homemade cakes and a lovely shaded outdoor seating area. I was also delighted to find they had the full range of Malduguns bottled beers available – my personal highlight was Zaļā Bise (6.3% single-hopped Styrian Wolf IPA). Poppy also found her second-favourite beer of the trip so far, Raiskumietis Ķiršu (5.5%), a shandy-style beer made from dark lager and cherry juice.
Though the Cēsu brewery, based in Cēsis, is one of the largest breweries in Latvia, most of the cafes and restaurants in the town featured smaller local brewers as their beer offerings. The main one we spotted was Raiskumietis mentioned above. Located 6 miles away from the town we thought it was a little far to walk, though we still got to try their light and dark lagers, both unfiltered, as well as the cherry shandy. What’s great about Latvia so far is how common it is to see local establishments stocking and promoting only local beers on the menu (Malduguns, Brenguļu and Valmiermuiža featured heavily in Cesis), reminding us of the regional beer scenes back in the UK.
I’m in Cēsis for the day, where should I visit? If only for the fact you won’t find their beers anywhere else in the world, the Trimpus microbrewery in the centre of town is well worth a visit.
Brewery to look out for? I know I’ve already mentioned them in a previous post, but it has to be Malduguns. All their beers I’ve tried so far have been enjoyable, but their hoppy beers are particularly good.