The world got a little less hardcore last week, as folks over in Russia have officially declared beer to be alcohol. Before now, anything under 10% alcohol by volume was considered a foodstuff, not booze. You know, like breakfast cereal!
The move makes sense. According to the World Health Organization, alcoholism is the number one health threat in Russia, and the beer market is exploding there, enjoying a 40% growth in sales over the past decade, while vodka sales have declined almost 30%.
With Russian drinkers favoring beer more and more and alcoholism being such a problem, regulation was inevitable. It will allow the government to more tightly regulate where and when beer is sold and to crack down on its illegal production, which apparently is out of control.
According to the Kremlin’s website, the new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013, will limit the sale and advertising of any products that contain more than 5% alcohol by volume. So session beers are probably still okay, but you’d better pick up that Dogfish Head 120 before 11pm, comrade, because sales are banned from then until 8 in the morning.
I have to say that as a human being it’s sad to see Russians struggle with alcoholism, but as a beer geek it’s strangely gratifying to see the world’s greatest beverage displacing vodka as the beverage of choice for discerning Ruski’s.
On the plus side, beer is a far less hardcore beverage than vodka, so perhaps the change in the country’s appetite is a sign that they’ll soon be trading is alcoholism for a new #1 health threat. As an American, I cannot recommend obesity highly enough!