As of the New Year, beer is to be considered an alcoholic beverage in Russia. Before now, beer was only considered to be a soft drink, which could be purchased at basically any corner shop or from a street vendor and drunk on the way to work or even during a lunch break.
Anything below 10% in strength is not technically considered alcoholic in Russia, and in fact, there is a saying among the hearty drinkers in Russia that "beer without vodka is like throwing money to the wind."
New Alcohol Status Restricts Sales
Because beer is now an alcoholic drink, it will no longer be available in many of the places it once was. Kiosks, petrol stations, and railway stations will no longer be able to sell the beverage. These places account for over 30% of all beer sales, and many people are upset they will no longer be able to buy a bottle or a can on the go.
In a Russian translation of an interview with Isaac Sheps, the chairman of the Union of Russian Brewers, Sheps says that this attempt to restrict the sale of alcohol may backfire. The chairman says that people will have to stock up if they want beer, but beer is bulky, and it’s much easier to simply grab a bottle or two of vodka.
This probably means people will be drinking more vodka and less beer, which is the opposite of what President Dmitry Medvedev had in mind when he approved the restriction.
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