Vodka Challenges Microbreweries’ Survival in Russia

Vodka Usurps Beer

In Russia, beer sales are decreasing and mircobrewers’ survival hinges on quality. The Moscow Times reports that the downswing of beer sales means an upswing of vodka consumption, and consequently, a rise in alcohol-related health issues as well.

Though Russia’s troubled economy has had an impact on how Russians consume (less), governmental regulations—particularly excise tax regulation— has inadvertently encouraged harder alcohol. In most European countries, these same regulations would put beer at an advantage in the marketplace. Excise taxes, which the government expects will discourage purchases in excess, on beer sales were “tripled in 2010, followed by an increase of another 25 percent last year” effectively placing beer on the same playing field as hard liquor. Hardly a fair fight.

Quality beer, fortunately, has carved a niche market in an atmosphere where larger breweries like Baltika and Heineken have contributed to the closing of large-scale breweries. Microbreweries’ downsized models are steadier, though perhaps, they’ve a lot more to lose. [The Moscow Times] [Image: Flickr/SebastiAn Arrhenius]