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

Stolen sax, sheet music, impacts Trail big-band and after school band

Anyone with information is urged to call the Trail RCMP detachment at 250.364.2566

Extensive road repair nears completion in Fruitvale

The scope of work includes new water and sewer service connections as well as road resurfacing

Community invited to check out mining trade show in Trail

Trade show free and open public on Wednesday and Thursday in the Trail Memorial Centre

Columbia Basin Trust announces grant for technology upgrades

The deadline for organizations to apply is Dec. 17

Christmas blooms in downtown Trail

The Artisan Craft Co-op recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in downtown Trail

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

B.C. woman allegedly threatens to rip out intestines of American man

A Kamloops-area woman is accused of harassing and threatening to disembowel an American man

Most Read