If you’re a craft beer aficionado, most likely you know this gem already, and in case you don’t, Alaus Pirkliai is a bar based in the charming location of the old town of Vilnius, on the tiny alley of Šiauliai.
Well, it’s not exactly a bar, it’s more like a miniature temple for craft lovers where you can find a beer bottle shop with a fair selection of beers on tap as well as a cosy seating area.
The owners of Alaus Pirkliai, Akvilė and Aleksandras make it clear from the moment you enter that they’re dedicated to serving consistently high quality, diverse and interesting beer.
Alaus Pirkliai boasts a bright and well laid out room, fully stocked shelves and fridges with names varying from Lithuanian brewers like Sakiškių or Dundulis to international ones such as highly ranked Swedish and lambic Belgian beers.
Once you find a beer matching your taste, you have two options: pay at the counter and enjoy it right there and then or grab a few to take home with you. With an atmosphere that is unlike in any other, Alaus Pirkliai will give you an aesthetically pleasing and welcoming vibe which remains throughout out your evening.
As the venue is small, Alaus Pirkliai is one of those rare places in Vilnius where you feel comfortable coming in on your own and talking to strangers. You wouldn’t come here for, say, five pints after a football match with your mates. Instead, the setting is ideal for quieter and more intimate gatherings.
Often times there’s a mixed crowd of foreigners and locals, Alaus Pirkliai is popular among 30-to-40-somethings with one interest connecting all of them—craft beer. A word of caution though; Alaus Pirkliai has the power to awaken the beer geek in almost anyone!
In a nutshell
Must-try: At the time of my visit, Mango Milkshake was a great choice. The best option is to always ask what’s new on tap.
Average price: 3-6 Euro
Booking: If you come on your own, most likely you’ll find a comfy spot. But if you’re a larger group, send a message in advance or book the whole venue as Alaus Pirkliai also does private events and tastings.
Vilnius Playground: How did the idea of a bar like Alaus Pirkliai come about?
Akvile and Aleksandras: The idea itself was born four years ago, and initially we wanted to open a store and a taproom with a selection of the best Lithuanian beer.
At that point in life, we weren’t well travelled, nor were we beer gourmets, but my husband, Aleksandras had this strong passion for beer, and I was supportive of the idea of opening a business related to quality beer, so we thought let’s give it a try.
Afterwards, we thought why then don’t we open a bar? We shared the concept with a friend from Norway, and she suggested that we bring in foreign beers instead. Little did we know back then that there was an entire craft beer culture cultivated worldwide, which was pretty much non-existent here in Lithuania at the time.
Long story short, the same friend, during her next visit, brought a suitcase of well-selected beers and shared links to resources cultivating the philosophy of craft beer. Frankly, we instantly got hooked and consumed by this unknown beer world, and that was the humble beginnings of Alaus Pirkliai.
VP: What’s the meaning of the signboard?
A&A: As Akvile is not only a beer merchant by night but also a graphic designer by day, all design elements seen at the bar are cohesive and have a background story. While we were in the process of launching the bar, I was in my last year of graphic design studies.
When I was creating the visual identity of Alaus Pirkliai, instead of drawing something standard like hops, I decided to research this particular area of the old town which naturally tied into the history of Vilnius and the role merchants played in the city’s development.
For example, did you know that Jewish shopkeepers formerly populated this neighbourhood? Here at the bar, we have a map hanging on the wall presenting how this part of Vilnius was mapped out back then. Also, the logo itself is not an inverted number four like most think, it’s actually a merchant’s mark widely used back in the Middle Ages.
VP: What kind of beer we can find on the shelves?
A&A: There’s Lithuanian craft, there isn’t much of it, but we accept almost everyone. Today we have six breweries and all of them have found a spot on our shelves. The rest of the beer is foreign that has past either a well-known ranking system or our own taste bud test.
Our journey is longer than it might seem to many. We build relationships and friendships with breweries, and then slowly start importing beers and testing the market. In general, the process is very dynamic, so having a set menu of beers would be next to impossible.
VP: Who is the clientele of Alaus Pirkliai?
A&A: As it’s not the main street, you don’t get a lot of passing trade, so the people who come here know what they’re after. We also get quite a few foreigners living in Vilnius and locals who are loyal customers and beer geeks.
Another friend of ours says that our bar is not the kind of place where you go to drink a lot of beer. Alaus Pirkliai is a relatively tiny place for the purpose of tasting; some come here for an aperitif and some after dinner somewhere close by.
With the size of the venue comes the perk that you cannot really hide in a dark corner drinking by yourself. People say that Alaus Pirkliai is pretty much the only bar where you can come on your own, and you don’t feel awkward at all.
People say that Alaus Pirkliai is pretty much the only bar where you can come on your own, and you don’t feel awkward at all.
VP: Your top three places to go for a beer are?
VP: Thank you for introducing us to the world of craft beer and good luck with your further journey!
**Guys, sadly now the place has been closed.**