A glass of craft beer sits on the bar at the Rule Taproom pub in Moscow, Russia. Pint by frothy pint, a hoppy revolution is brewing in Russia. A new generation of craft beer brewers began sprouting in the vodka capital of the world as foreign beers got too expensive and beer-drinkers started looking for alternatives to mass-produced lagers. Alexander Zemlianichenko photo

Craft beer revolution brewing in Russia

A generation of craft beer brewers is sprouting in the vodka capital of the world

MOSCOW – Pint by frothy pint, a hoppy revolution is brewing in Russia.

This new generation of craft brewers began sprouting in the vodka capital of the world as foreign beers became too expensive and beer fans sought alternatives to mass-produced lagers. From juicy IPAs to velvety stouts and lip-smacking sours, beers served at breweries that opened in recent years in cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg offer visitors and locals alike the styles popularized in the last two decades by the craft beer boom in the U.S. and Europe.

Many breweries started after the currency collapse of 2014, when imported beer prices skyrocketed and supply fell.

“There was almost nothing being brought from outside,” said Alex Korobkov, co-owner of the Zagovor brewery and the RULE Taproom in central Moscow. “So people decided to brew something they had tried outside of Russia.”

Korobkov and a group of friends started Zagovor – which translates to “Conspiracy” in Russian – in 2014.

Today, there are over 100 craft breweries in Russia, said Nikita Filippov, co-founder of AF Brew in St. Petersburg, founded in 2012 and one of the craft beer pioneers in Russia. But Filippov said that only around two dozen breweries have their own production capacities or long-term contractual base.

“If nothing dramatic happens in the Russian economics, hops and malt import policies, or beer restriction legislation, the future for craft beer in Russia is promising,” said Filippov.

All ingredients have to be imported – hops from the U.S. or Germany, grains from several European countries – and there are only a few facilities with the necessary equipment that serve as contract brewers.

Craft beer still represents a tiny segment of the beer market in Russia – around 1 per cent, according to Dmitry Drobyshevsky, who runs the Russian beer trade news site Profibeer and analyzes the market.

Drobyshevsky said the market for Russian is expanding beyond its borders, to Europe and China.

“The Russian brewery Jaws (from Yekaterinburg) started selling beer in China in May,” he said. “Russian bars are starting to appear there too.”

The surge in Russian craft beer is perfectly timed for the expected tourism bonanza when the country hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Hundreds of thousands of foreign fans, many of them from the U.S. and Western Europe, will visit the 11 host cities.

And few things pair better with beer than soccer.

“They will find a country which is million miles away from old stereotypes about Russia. They will find people who don’t have vodka with caviar every meal but have the offer and knowledge in fine foods, fine spirits and craft beers,” said Filippov. “They will be greatly welcome to our country by a community of craft beer brewers and drinkers.”

If You Go…

RULE TAPROOM: http://ruletaproom.ru/, 19 Starovagankovskiy Lane, Moscow . Tucked in an alley steps from the Kremlin, the Brooklyn-inspired bar owned by the makers of Zagovor has one of the best beer selections in Moscow, with around 27 brews on tap. Don’t miss the inventive tap handles – from a Soviet-era hammer and sickle, to a hand grenade, AK-47 magazine and a Lenin bust. There is a vast rotating cast of Russian beers, but go with the local brew, Zagovor. Look out for any of their collaborations with New York breweries, like their recent brew with Brooklyn-based KCBC. Prices range from 180-300 rubles ($3-5).

REDRUM: https://www.facebook.com/redrumbarspb/, 26 Nekrasova St., St. Petersburg . RedRum is owned by the AF Brew. Minimalist decoration, also serves food. They have 24 beers on tap, about a third their own AF Brew and others from Russian and European breweries.

JAWS: http://jawsbeer.ru/en/

Just Posted

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Participation by women in West Kootenay/Boundary elections up slightly

More running than in 2014, but about same number as 2011

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

High hazard in downtown Trail

Roofing work began early Monday morning at the Trail Memorial Centre

Second hospital road part of plan, says Trail mayor

Martin was in Whistler last week for the UBCM; city delegation met with health ministry

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

A B.C. society helps to reforest Crown land after wildfires

Forest Enhancement Society of BC focuses on wildfire mitigation and the reforestation

B.C. marijuana workers may face U.S. border scrutiny

Cannabis still illegal federally south of the border

New political party holds an informational session in Vernon

Maxime Bernier’s The People’s Party of Canada draws about 2o interested patrons to Vernon pub.

B.C. MLAs reminded of rural school struggles

Finance committee hears of falling enrolment, staff shortages

Most Read