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Discovering the Flavors of Volfas Engelman: A Lithuanian Brewery Making its Mark on Japan

  • delicious Japan
  • August 9, 2023

Edita Dravininkienė
AB “Volfas Engelman”
Export Manager
Can you first briefly introduce yourself and your company, please?

"Volfas Engelman” brewery, founded in 1853, proudly celebrates its 170th anniversary this year. In 1999 we merged with the Finnish “Olvi group” and we are one of the oldest companies in Northern Europe. In a significant milestone this year, we partnered with His Royal Highness Prince Luitpold Prinz von Bayern of Bavaria and his esteemed company, “König Ludwig International”. This collaboration grants us the exclusive privilege of brewing “König Ludwig Weissbier”, a royal beer with a remarkable 800-year history. Thus, we have become the official custodians of the finest Bavarian traditions in Lithuania. The privilege to brew this beverage is exceedingly rare and bestowed only upon companies renowned for their impeccable standards and exceptional quality.
At the moment, “Volfas Engelman” exports its diverse product range to 34 countries worldwide, forging strong partnerships with renowned retail chains such as “Coop”, “Kaufland”, “Lidl”, “7-eleven”, “FamilyMart”, “CostCo”, “ASDA”, “Carrefour”, and many others.
Our portfolio extends beyond beer, including beer cocktails, cider, soft drinks, kvass, fruit beverages, energy drinks, and other exceptional products. Additionally, “Volfas Engelman” owns the “UNIQA” natural mineral water plant in Druskininkai.

How was the result or reaction of the JFEX 2023?

We participated in this exhibition for the very first time. Our outstanding products captivated exhibitors with their exceptional quality, exquisite design, innovative flavors, and unwavering European authenticity. During the event, we garnered significant attention from four major Japanese chains, and we sent them samples of our products for post-show tasting.

Many Japanese are still unfamiliar with Lithuanian beer. First, give us a brief introduction to the history of Lithuania and beer making, please.

Beer holds a rich historical significance in Lithuania, being one of the first beverages produced in the country. As a result, the brewers in Lithuania possess exceptional expertise in their craft. We are fortunate to operate in a country known for its pristine environment, surrounded by forests and lakes, ensuring the air and water quality are unparalleled. Such factors directly contribute to the excellence of our beer, as water stands as a vital ingredient.

What are the characteristics of your beer VOLFAS ENGELMAN?

At “Volfas Engelman”, we place paramount importance on delivering impeccable quality across our product range. To guarantee this, we meticulously source the highest quality raw materials from esteemed suppliers worldwide. Our offerings encompass classic lagers, wheat beers, and innovative craft beers. Additionally, our microbrewery, operational since 2017, serves as a testing ground for new ingredient combinations and allows us to produce experimental limited-edition beverages. Visitors of our mini-brewery have the privilege of sampling these creations, providing valuable feedback that guides our decision-making on which drinks deserve large-scale production.

What are your company's beer lineup and types, please?

Our beer lineup includes lagers, wheat beers, dark beers, IPAs, APAs, blanc, kriek, and beer cocktails.

What has been the most important thing in brewing beer since you started brewing beer in 1853?

Respecting history stands as a cornerstone for our company, evident in our retention of the founders' names. We also maintain an honorable and gentlemanly attitude toward our employees, consumers, and the environment. As the sole brewery in Lithuania with the founders' names within the brewery's name, we uphold the highest standards in all our products, a commitment instilled since the brewery's inception.

In Japan, people drink beer while eating. What would match VOLFAS ENGELMAN?

Our "Balta Pinta" or "Blanc" beer perfectly complements fish, poultry, sushi, and sashimi, while our lager, IPA, NEIPA, “Hoppy lager“, and “Köln tourist“ beers provide an ideal accompaniment to any meat dish. “Baltic porter”, “Mango pale ale”, and “Kriek” beer offer delightful pairings with desserts.

Is VOLFAS already sold in supermarkets in Japan?

Yes, our beer can be found in “Costco“, “YaMaYa“, “Alps“, “Sanyone“.

Please tell us about your future marketing plan in Japan.

Over the next three years, our objective is to expand our presence to at least three additional Japanese retailers. We are determined to elevate the recognition and visibility of the Volfas Engelman brand, making it a trusted symbol of unrivaled quality among all imported beverage brands in Japan. We understand the Japanese preference for familiar and proven flavors, but we hope to inspire them to explore and experience more intriguing products. Our goal is to cater to the diverse needs of every consumer.

How do you like it here in Japan?

We hold fond memories of our time in Japan and eagerly anticipate future visits. We believe that the Japanese and Lithuanian cultures share similar values and attitudes, such as a deep-rooted concern for quality, history, tradition, cleanliness, and environmental respect. Despite being distinct and distant nations, we find a profound resemblance between us.