Friday, 5 August 2011


Strictly speaking a beer in the evening - but pedantry really isn't my suit...  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a bill that officially classifies beer as alcoholic. Until now anything containing less than 10% abv (alcohol by volume) in Russia has been considered a foodstuff. 10% abv is substantially stronger than beers available in the UK*.

The move, signed into law last Wednesday, will allow ministers to control the sale of beer in the same way that spirits are controlled. Russian alcohol consumption is already twice the critical level set by the World Health Organisation.

Although vodka has long been the traditional tipple in Russia, beer has soared in popularity, being marketed as a healthier alternative to spirits. Over the past decade, beer sales in Russia have risen more than 40% while vodka sales have fallen by nearly 30%.

Apparently it is common to see people necking beer in the street and in parks as if they are drinking soft drinks. It is not restricted to certain outlets and is sold 24/7.
"The law brings some order into the sale of beer," Vadim Drobiz, director of the Centre for Federal and Regional Alcohol Market Studies (impressive job title!).

Last year the Russian beer industry was hit by a 200% tax hike on its products as ministers sought to bring consumption under control. The new measures - which come into effect in 2013 - will stop alcohol being sold in unlicensed kiosks, ban its sale from stores between certain hours and restrict advertising.

This blog promotes sensible drinking, by the way... На здоровье!

The Crossing Club
Grosmont Co-operative Building
Front Street
nr Whitby, North Yorkshire
YO22 5QE
Tel. 01947 895040

*typical abv values for the UK are shown in the flyer here from the Castle Rock Brewery, based in Nottingham
( - as you can see abv values range from Gatekeeper (May) at 3.3% abv described as a dark, mild ale to Crayfish (August) at 6.0% abv which is described as a very strong IPA. By comparison, I'm not aware of any UK-based brewery that currently produces beer at more than 10% abv. The Durham Brewery does offer a black Russian Stout called Temptation in 500ml bottles at 10% abv.

Sorry folks, but at that strength I can't be tempted!

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