When I saw Viru sitting on the bottom shelf at Spec's Downtown, my first thought was, "cool bottle." My second: "Estonia brews beer?" Yes, as it turns out, but not very good beer.
This stuff languished in the back of my fridge for a long time, because I was more or less expecting what I got. If I had to guess, I'd say I've been hanging on to it for more than a year. Recently, though, I've had to do some thinning.
As I'm sure you can guess, penning Brew Blog has turned me into a bit of a beer pack-rat. My fridge is largely filled up with an odds and ends assortment of single six-pack leftovers of beers I've reviewed, and some I've meant to and haven't.
As the fridge's capacity to hold such trifles as milk, eggs, and other examples of what my wife calls "actual food," dwindles, her attention turns to culling. I've taken to secretly stashing some in her wine fridge. Shh. Viru finally gets its 15 minutes thanks to one of the more recent initiatives; drink it or dump it seems to be the theme, and we all know how that's going to end.
If I had gotten to this one during the summer, I might have more favorable things to say about it. If A-B leads by example, "drinkability" is nearly synonymous with "characterless." Both of those descriptors fit Viru. On a hot summer day, this might not be as much of an issue. The beer is clean and light. Barely-there but lemony hops; vaguely sweet and cereally wisps of malt; spritely carbonation and sharp-edged finish. A refresher, for sure, and probably perfectly enjoyable at the right moment, for the right reasons.
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I drank mine while frying triangles of polenta, to top a braised pork stew that had been gently, deliciously warming my kitchen for the past few hours, as the night drizzled by outside. It's hard to think of a less congruous pairing.
I still have a couple of bottles left, so I guess I can submit Viru to the Ecclesiastes test, yet. I certainly won't be using it to brace myself against the oncoming cold front, or pairing it with the guaranteed onslaught of braised meats that will grace my table in the coming months. Which kind of makes me wonder when in the heck the Estonians drink it.