Goodbye vodka? Russians toast craft beer revolution

Source:AFP Published: 2016-4-5 19:38:01

Bearded hipsters and bespectacled 20-somethings sip pale ales and dark stouts at Garden Beer, one of Moscow's new craft beer bars serving "made in Russia" brews to an increasingly discerning clientele.

While the craft beer revolution swept North America and Western Europe years ago, Russia is now catching up at a time when it is trying to shrug off a vodka-swilling reputation.

"We are tired of Russia being perceived as a country of alcoholics," Pavel, a customer at Beer Garden told AFP as he relaxed after work.

"Old people still drink vodka, but we young people prefer good-quality beer."

The beer market has seen overall consumption fall, but niche producers have flourished as drinkers' tastes have got increasingly sophisticated.

"A new craft beer bar opens in Moscow almost every day," said Natalia Petrova, editor-in-chief of Real Brew, a magazine targeting Russia's rising number of amateur brewers.

"There are already more than 1,000 microbreweries" in Russia, she added.

Garden Beer owner Yan Stopichev said his bar serves more than 60 brands of Russian craft beer.

"These are microbreweries, young Russians who learned how to make good-quality beer from YouTube videos," Stopichev said of his suppliers.

Green Street Brewery is one of the many such establishments fuelling the craft boom.

Part of the reason for the craft beer boom is that production and sales often fall into a legal loophole - with pubs that only serve beer for instance allowed to work without a liquor license.

"We're in a grey zone. What we are doing is neither legal nor illegal," brewer Maxim Boroda said.

Posted in: Food, Miscellany

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