Beer, Bars & Brewers #2
Beer be hoppy! Welcome back to this week’s beer news and the second edition of this year’s Beer, Bars & Brewers.
We take a look at Russia’s craft beer “revolution”, how Suntory decided to drop out in the Peroni/Grolsch game, Alexander Himburg moves the production of his BrauKunstKeller, and Berlin’s Bier & Wurst festival is happening soon.
Russia’s Craft Beer Revolution
The craft beer revolution (how sick are we of this term by the way?) has migrated east and has finally reached Russia’s shores. Last week The Guardian’s Alec Luhn took a closer look at our eastern neighbors’ breweries, brewers, and beers. In a report from 2015 the World Health Organisation reports that “51% of alcohol consumed in Russia was spirits and only 38% was beer”. The vodka-heavy culture has had a horrible effect on the health of Russian men, “whose average life expectancy of just 64 years lags behind that in European countries”. There’s hope though, beer geeks are taking it upon themselves to re-introduce beer into Russian culture. Back in the days of yonder court breweries produced beer for tsars, and word on the street is, that Catherine the Great enjoyed an English Ale and Porter. Microbreweries are trying hard to re-establish this brewing tradition “with a focus on savouring the taste rather than drinking to get drunk”.
To open a craft beer bar you need no liquor license (Russia, eh?!) and your startup costs are kept to a minimum seeing as you don’t need a large staff, kitchen, or extravagant interiors. In the last two years a host of craft beers have opened from Moscow to St. Petersburg as a result. This trend was kickstarted by two former Baltika (Russia’s largest beer producer who began experimenting by brewing experimental batches with BrewDog, Mikkeller, and Jacobsen in 2010) employees who founded AF Brew in 2012, which has since become of Russia’s most popular breweries. Though one shouldn’t forget the likes of “Saldens in Tula, Jaws in Yekaterinburg, Bakunin in St Petersburg and Victory Art Brew in Moscow”. In 2014 craft bars Beermarket and All Your Friends opened in Moscow, soon to be followed by Craft rePUBlic. Alexander Gromov, gypsy brewer extraordinaire, hopes to revive some of Russia’s lost styles and his planning “an ‘ethnographic expedition’ to villages this summer to search for local recipes”. Gromov says “Russia is a beer country, but we forget this. If we don’t preserve our own traditions, we will lose them”. More power to him.
Suntory Rules out Peroni Acquisition
According to The Drinks Business Japanese giant has taken itself out of the running to buy Peroni and Grolsch. Japan’s third largest beer maker had hinted at its interest in entering the UK beer market however, president Takeshi Niiami recently told local media that they would be focusing their efforts on existing business and “integrating the Jim Beam business it bought in 2014 rather than acquisitions”. Last week the company published its 2016 strategy: developing its premium beer offering, “ in both in the domestic and international markets”.
BrauKunstKeller moves Production from Michelstadt to Cham
Alexander Himburg, one Germany’s most successful craft beer pioneers is moving the production of his American inspired beers from Michelstadt to Cham. Himburg tells Mixology “the water in Odenwald is almost the same and the brewery that we have available in Cham is certainly comparable, but much bigger than our last one”. This does mean that the dream of a own brewery has temporarily been put on the backburner however, it does ensure BrauKunstKeller will continue to grow without having to compromise on its integrity. We look forward to enjoying many more collab brews. His latest beer, a rum barrel aged Imperial Stout, will be hard to find in Germany seeing as BrewDog bought almost every single bottle for their bars in Great Britain.
Wurst & Bier Festival
Everything has an end, only the sausage has two. Yup, that an an actual German saying. If you enjoy a good sausage with that hoppy brew of yours, the “Wurst & Bier Festival” at Markthalle Neun is your own personal mecca. It will be held on Sunday, February 7th and opens from 11am – 7pm. The festival organizers believe that because both sausage and beer are hand crafted products they belong together. We don’t disagree. Over 27 German brewers will be present, showcasing their newest projects and hoping to God it pairs well with the spices in the sausage. Entrance is 3,- Euros. More information here.