Beer Stealing Vodka’s Thunder in Russia, Now Considered Alcohol

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!  ;)

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Categories: Beer, News

Author:Jim Galligan

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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9 Comments on “Beer Stealing Vodka’s Thunder in Russia, Now Considered Alcohol”

  1. July 26, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Wait. Russia gets Dogfish Head and Missouri doesn’t?!? That’s bull s***!

  2. Jeff W
    July 26, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Привет!
    The problem with alcoholism in Russia has little to do with the definition of beer as an alcoholic beverage or the availability of either beer or vodka. Further regulation will only exacerbate their problems.

    As for beer displacing vodka, that can only be a good thing. Clear spirits are, as you say, hardcore. Beer on the other hand, is happy and social. So I bid the people of Russia happy celebration over a beer with their friends.

    • July 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

      I agree – beer makes pacing yourself much easier than clear spirits. Also, it was designed to have flavor and character, while vodka’s quality is typically determined by the absence of these things. It’s mostly getting plastered, not a flavor experience.

  3. Jeff W
    July 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    PS. I want to play that game of chess in the picture :)

    • July 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

      Yes, and for each piece you take, you get to drink it!

  4. July 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Beer will always beat Vodka! Interesting situation over w/ the Russians but hell of a great story!

  5. July 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    I for one am glad to hear it. Though I admit that I haven’t been there in almost 20 years, back then Russian beer was awful! (its the only place I’ve been where I simply couldn’t stomach the local brew. (It was even worse than the domestic product brewed in 1960’s Okinawa–much improved nowadays by the way.) All the Russians I knew who drank beer drank imported Belgian beer, most drank vodka (I stuck with Georgian brandy but that’s another story.) If Russian beer has improved enough to replace vodka, I’d say that’s tremendous progress. But they’ll never beat alcoholism there as long as they have those long cold winters (think northern Wisconsin on steroids). Take it from me winter in the Ural mountains is long, cold and dark.

    As for beer being a food group–that’s old news. My German immigrant ancestors who settled in the Chicago area fought bitterly for the right to drink beer 7 days a week. To them beer was as much a food as was sausage, potatoes or noodles. That’s another upside of microbrews and homebrews by the way–especially the unfiltered ones–they’re chock full of vitamins and minerals. You won’t see that claim in a Bud Lite ad.

    • July 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

      Why do you need vodka when you have the Internet?

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