In Lithuania, beer is not only a beverage, but also a part of culinary heritage as it represents the traditional culture in a broad sense.
Lithuanian keptinis beer (baked beer) is a unique variation of brewing traditions, much older than the usual beer as we know it today. The method was already used in the 17th century – in his writings, Matas Pretorijus described a keptinis beverage made from a mixture of rye, peas, oats and bread fermented in water which resembles keptinis beer. The process of making the latter is long, requiring accuracy and skills: first, barley dough loaves are formed, they are baked in the oven, broken into pieces, poured over with hot water, left to swell, the mash is later separated, poured into barrels and left to ferment.
Rokiškis area, especially in Jūžintai and surrounding villages have the longest tradition of producing this special beer. In the past, no funerals, family or local festivities could take place without keptinis beer. It is appreciated for its distinctive taste and aftertaste: thickening, viscosity and pleasant bitterness given by hops, pelts, raspberry stems and leaves collected in Jūžintai area as well as juice of cooked dried apples and pears. The beer is not strong, lightly intoxicating and not causing hangover. During the first half of the 20th century keptinis beer was produced usually by women: mothers used to transmit knowledge to their daughters, mothers-in-law taught their daughters-in-law. Nowadays the tradition is less alive, yet quite a few women know how to make the beverage.
The heritage of producing keptinis beer and the practitioners of the tradition are well appreciated by the Jūžintai community: no communal or personal festivities, presentation on local traditions are held without keptinis beer. People from other regions order the beer too. The tradition contributes to the attractiveness of Jūžintai and surrounding areas admired by the locals, guests and tourists.
Moulding malt dough
Photograph of Lithuanian National Culture Centre Archive, 2003
Submitted by Jūžintai village community, 2017