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American Craft Beer on Tap in Russia

Russian relations with the United States may be strained, but not when it comes to beer.

American-style craft beer is winning over Russian beer drinkers, according to some producers in Russia.

Craft beer is defined as a beer produced by a small brewery, using traditional ingredients such as malted barley. Craft brewers also tend to add unusual ingredients -- pumpkin is one -- to produce a distinct flavor. That definition of craft brewing comes from the U.S.-based Brewers Association.

“Being an American in the craft beer industry is a good thing because America has a great reputation as far as craft beer goes,” says Dan Madden, president of Dok’n’Dan Brewing, a small Russian brewery. Madden is a former Los Angeles businessman who moved to Moscow seven years ago and opened up his brewery selling craft beers.

Madden says: “Everybody wants to know what the American says, or what the American’s ideas are, because it is very interesting to them because of what we have done, you know, for beer over the past 30 years.”

Craft Beer sales have grown from hardly registering a decade ago to about 12 percent of total Russian beer sales, according to Journal.Beer, a European-based publication covering the beer industry.

“Almost every month new breweries appear, every week new craft beer bars open in Moscow, a lot of new sorts of craft beers appear,” says Anton Pligin, co-owner of Craft Republic, a beer pub in Moscow.

Craft beers in Russia are getting favorable reviews. Nick Zaporozsky, art director at the Martdesign Studio in Siberia, says Russians like “very hoppy and bitter” beer.

“I think Russia is connected with the whole world and influenced by world trends, such as local food and craft beer,” he tells VOA. “The most popular sorts of craft beers are Indian Pale Ale, American Pale Ale and Russian Imperial Stout.”

“Slipp 23” writing on Trip Advisor, praises the “Mutant Disco Indian Pale Ale (IPA)" from Estonia he drank during a visit to the Beergeek Craft Beer Bar & Store in St. Petersburg.

“Some great local brews, had one of my favorite white IPAs here. Great spot, go here, grab some brews,” Slipp 23 writes. “And by some, I mean at least five.”

Christopher H. on Yelp says he likes the Moscow Brewing Company.

“Beer is very good,” he writes. “Atmosphere is awesome, especially when garage door is open. Wish it was a little bigger and served food because I would be there every Saturday afternoon.”

The growth of American-style craft beer sales in Russia comes as the relationship between the Russian and U.S. governments remains tense.

The government of Vladimir Putin banned imports of products from the United States and European nations last year. Putin said it was in response to U.S.-European sanctions against Russia for deploying troops in Crimea to support its separation from the Ukraine.

The U.S. and Russia have clashed over Russia’s support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s bloody civil war in Syria.

I'm Anne Ball.

Daniel Schearf reported on this story for Bruce Alpert adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Stuck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

strained -- adj. not friendly

traditionaladj. based on a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time

ingredientsn. things that are used to make a food, product

definition -- n. an explanation of the meaning of a word

distinct – adj. noticeably different

hoppy – n. full of hops

bitter – n. having a strong and often unpleasant flavor that is the opposite of sweet

awesomeadj. causing feelings of fear and wonder

reputationn. the common opinion that people have about someone or something

decaden. a period of 10 years

relationshipn. the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other

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