Beer In Russia Wasn't Considered Alcohol Until 2011
But don't Russians drink vodka?
We know you're hungover, barely alive, just hanging in there like a kitten on a motivational poster. That's why, today, we're bringing you a story about what is no doubt your favorite thing right now: Alcohol!
Before 2013, anyone with a hangover in Russia could just pop over to a street kiosk and crack open everyone's favorite nonalcoholic drink. We're talking, of course, about beer. Specifically, any beer with less than 10% alcohol by volume. For all the yankees out there, that's pretty much all beer except the very strongest selections at your local craft brewery.
It all started changing in 2011, when then-president Dmitry Medvedev signed a bill that declared all beer technically alcohol. The law didn't come to life until 2013, but most Russians weren't happy about it. Not only is Russia a hard-drinking country, they take two weeks off to celebrate around Christmas and the new year. That time of year is one long party punctuated with deep, drunk sleeps. To keep yourself in that festive spirit, you definitely needed to keep a low-key buzz going, but thanks to Medvedev, that became easier said than done.
Russians will always be tied to their love of vodka. Nothing's going to change that. In the early aughts, however, beer moved up the ranks of Russia's favorite drinks thanks to some clever marketing. At the time, beer was advertised as a healthy alternative to vodka and other strong spirits, pushing its sales up 40%.
During that time, vodka fell out of favor. Oh, sure, people continued to drink it, but they couldn't buy it on the street the way they could buy beer. In the 2000s, vodka sales fell almost 30% as Russians cracked open cans of Baltika, Ochakovo, and Klinskoe Light (for when you're trying to slim down for those famously balmy Moscow summers). Both beer and vodka are easy to knock back for hours on end, but the advantage of beer over vodka was its all-day availability.