It was a phrase we were all too familiar with, however on this occasion we weren’t in East London and the barman wasn’t employing Cockney rhyming slang to ask us if we wanted some beers.
We were in The Republic of Užupis, which declared its independence from the rest of Lithuania on the 1st of April 1997 and has its own president, army and a flag for each season. Užupis also has its own constitution, which consists of 41 terms, including, “Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents” and “Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not an obligation”.
The jaunt to Vilnius had come about as a semi end of season trip for some of the Aussie contingent of the Hamburg Dockers, who compete in the Australian Football League Germany and some pre-trip research into some suitable watering holes had led us to Šnekutis in Užupis (there is also another Šnekutis in the district of Senamiestis).
Upon arrival we were greeted by Aurimas the owner (who can only be described as a different cat) and a handful of locals. The “live beer” on offer at Šnekutis isn’t filtered, pasteurised or approved by the EU and we set about testing each of them out – at roughly $1 AUD for 500mL, it would have been rude not to.
The bar itself is full of random artefacts, beer-related or otherwise, and a couple of us were stoked to see two old-school labels from Tasmania’s most famous breweries on the wall.
We also encountered what could have been a tricky (amusing?) situation when a local Lithuanian who had befriended us, took offence at a not-so-local Russian bloke cursing him in Russian, rather than the local lingo.
All in all, a trip to Vilnius probably wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Frank Zappa statue, a few cheeky beers in Šnekutis and getting tear-gassed in a night club.
Oh, the pig’s ears are worth a try, although we didn’t need to go back for seconds as we were still chewing on them the next morning…