At the same time, there are creative people that believe in the power of plants and are reinstating them to their true status in various fields, including lesser known disciplines. Whilst side-lining their hallucinogenic effects, the healing potency of the plants is no less effective.
Each time you come to Riga, you leave a little bit of your heart there, until the capital of Latvia has it all. A renaissance in artisan food and drink, innovative chefs and produce that defines this Northern region all shaping Latvia’s new personality, is one of the main reasons why. It’s pretty obvious that a beer revolution is underway all over the world and Latvia is not immune to this craft beer craze. Craft breweries are popping up across the country. Today’s new brewer generation is revitalising old traditions as part of a broader trend of local production. Labietis however, is not your typical new brewery, brewing beer in the American manner, — extra hoppy. Flavoured with local ingredients such as heather, yarrow, caraway and juniper, Labietis offers a beer packed with flavour, history and some pagan magic. The brewers here experiment with beer styles that have emerged from the 12,000 year old history of brewing. And introduce new flavours that change the perception of what is beer. If one day you find yourself siting in Labietis, please try Radziņš, made from a typical Latvian wheat bread with caraway; Ausma (Dawn) with a touch of ginger & peppermint or Pļava (Meadow) made with local herbs. This rustic but inventive style of making beer is also an increasing source of inspiration to the country’s leading chefs. Martins Ritiņš of Riga’s famed restaurant Vincents is the number one advocate of Labietis beer, proudly offering it side by side with exclusive French wine. It’s a sunny midsummer morning when I find myself entering Labietis brewery, located a little out of central Riga, in a small creative district under the city’s hippest nightclub Piens. As I say ‘Hi!’ to the man sitting at the far end of a long wooden table in front of his laptop, I can’t help but notice the modern-looking interior heavily decorated with folk symbols and everything constructed from heavy wood. Tall and well built, wearing a dark relaxed linen shirt, shorts and flip flops, the, the sun-kissed and slightly Vikinglooking, Reinis Pļaviņš is the master and the brain behind the brand. Being an amateur home brewer for several years, Reinis says he founded Labietis out of a need and an interest to experiment with something more than traditional beer. The brewers here
Although the use of the majority of plants that have hallucinogenic effects able to induce altered states of consciousness is banned by the so-called “civilized“ world, people still use other aspects of these plants that have strengthening qualities. Currently there‘s a re-learning of the significance of the trance state throughout the world and a return to an investigation of the list of prohibited plants, concluding that many of the listed plants are in fact medically very effective and useful for health and well-being. For example, in South America, infusions from Ayahuasca and the San Pedro cactus have started to the regain their rightful place as holy healers. Elsewhere, the healing properties of cannabis are gaining recognition in the health sector.
When it comes to combining creativity, modern technologies, and tradition while brewing to perfection, Reinis Pļaviņš, the creative brain behind the Labietis brewery in Riga, is doing things just right.
Photography Eglė Ma
DRINKING N WIND x ININ NINI
We live in a world where it’s believed that man is the crown of all creation. This means separation from and disrespect for nature, plants, and this Earth. Ancient people looked at things differently, they saw nature as their biggest teacher. Plants were teachers and the hallucinogenic effects they brought were considered to be the way, of gaining deeper spiritual wisdom. Honouring plants and collectively drinking or smoking them while having ceremonies was one way how tribes all around the world connected to what they considered the amazing, true source of creativity.
do typical pale ales, IPAs, and double IPAs of course, but offering different kinds of beers is the key to drawing people in. The name Labietis comes from an old word for a Latvian warrior before Christianity, the Latvian version of a Samurai so they say, and the names of the beers also draw strongly on Latvian folk culture. It’s clear that tradition and history here are important ingredients, but taste and creativity are even more important than ever before. Can heritage products be appealing in the modern world and can they offer more than origin and taste? Reinis, here we are, sitting in this Nordic modern-looking brewery, talking about beer inspired by ancient beer making traditions and local flavours, I think it is fair to ask what are your sources of creativity and inspiration? Well, I feel it would be honest to say that however much Rigans love their city — and nearly a third of Latvia’s population lives here — our affection also extends to the countryside of forests, lakes and sandy beaches edging the Baltic Sea. We’re a nation, which has kept in touch with the myths and magic of its pagan past. These two things are my inspiration. Latvians know how to make the most of the brief summer months, when up to 20 hours of daylight create a sudden rush in the dazzling growth of trees, flowers, fruit and grain. The long days and bright nights bring out the intensity of taste in the berries, herbs, and mushrooms. There is synergy between the city and the country-
This issue is created together with guest-editor ININ NINI. Theme: Modern Nordic Rituals (Aug-Sept 2016)