September 01, 2000

How Beer Can Save Russia

Inveterate teetotaler Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov raises a beer mug to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd ... A pair of newlyweds offers a new response to the customary Russian wedding slogan, “Gorko!” (“Bitter!”), exchanging kisses in front of a poster for Ochakovskoye beer ... A vigorous, well-built guy in his late 20s sets a new local record by lifting a 30 kg beer barrel 51 times ...

Welcome to the traditional Moscow Beer Festival at Luzhniki stadium, now an inalienable local ritual for guests and Muscovites alike. It is a far cry from even three years ago, when Russian Life first reported on the event. Back then, out of 20 types of beer at the festival, only three (Baltika, Nevskoye and Petergof) were Russian-made. Today, Russian brands dominate, while just Tuborg and the Turkish Efes represent foreign brewers. And even Efes is brewing locally.

Domestic beer production has been steadily on the rise the last half-decade. In 1995 only 170 mn dcl were produced in Russia. In 1996 the figure rose to some 220 mn dcl, then to 253 mn dcl in 1997. This year beer production is predicted to reach 520 mn dcl, while imports account for just 5% of all consumption.

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