The beer market dynamics in Russia is approaching zero, yet major brewers are divided into those who developed considerably in 2017 and those who considerably reduced their volumes. For instance, company Efes has managed to substantially extend their sales due to restrained pricing policy and activity in the modern trade. Heineken has also demonstrated an excellent performance promoted by significant increase of advertisement budgets launching a non-alcohol sort of the title brand and unusual activity in the economy market segment. Carlsberg and AB InBev have been focusing on margins and lost a market share of their inexpensive brands. Serious dependence on PET package and mass enthusiasm about Zhigulevskoe have negatively impacted the most of big regional brewers, that have been for the first time pressed by the leaders in the key sales channels, especially in Volga and Central regions. In the small business there has been a noticeable slowdown in appearing of new restaurant breweries, yet the number of craft breweries has been growing rapidly. In 2018, the beer market is likely to grow a little, while the share of AB InBev Efes may decrease due to the integration. ...
“Catalogue of Russian Beer Producers 2018” includes 1070 businesses ranging from large subsidiaries of international companies to rather small restaurant and craft microbreweries.The catalogue includes 32 large breweries, 75 regional breweries, 693 industrial mini- and microbreweries as well as 270 restaurant breweries. ...
Global hop marketA local alternative to mass beer suggested by independent brewers has been successful and is now altering the global market. Beer is becoming more diversified, so transnational companies have to accept the new game rules and to switch focus to young and fast growing markets. All these processes increased the demand for aroma and bitter hop as well as their acreage expansion on two continents. However now there appeared a downward trend of alcohol consumption in the world, so even special sorts can soon turn to be sufficient. In this connection the dynamic American hop market is already facing some problems. EU hop producers have become more cautious, they are not racing to exceed the demand and look forward with more confidence, judging by the contract terms.
Hop Market in RussiaGermany still dominates the Russian market, yet over the recent two years one has been able observe a continuous success of Czech hop suppliers. Their expansion and growing popularity of hops from the United States became the drivers of supplies growth in 2016 despite the preceding modest harvest crop in the EU, as well as the factor of relative stability in 2017. In this connection, in 2017, the ratio of the varieties continued to shift towards the aroma ones, and the supplies of Magnum hop and other alpha varieties were reduced. However, the import of bitter hop pellets is partially replaced by extracts, especially from the major beer manufacturers. Total volumes of alpha acid supplies, according to our estimation, decreased by approximately 5% and returned to the level of 2015. Barth Haas Group continues dominating the hop products market; HVG also increased its weight. At the same time, Morris Hanbury significantly reduced the supplies in 2017.
Does North Korea Make the Best Beer in Asia?
The capital city of Pyongyang is currently hosting the country’s first beer festival — scheduled to last through early September — which on opening day reportedly drew some 800 local and foreign guests to enjoy pretzels, barbecue, patriotic music, and of course, local brew. The festival is intended to promote North Korea’s flagship Taedonggang beer, named after the river that flows through Pyongyang. “It’s really refreshing, it’s tasty, it’s got just a little bit of sweetness,” one local attendee told The Telegraph. “I think there’s no other beer in the world that tastes like our Taedonggang Beer.”
But it’s not just North Koreans who think highly of their country’s brew. Simon Cockerell, who has been taking foreign tour groups into the country since 2002 for the British-run Koryo Tours, says his tourists nearly always have a positive reaction to the local beer. “This could be initially because expectations are low, of course,” he said. “But then again, the beer is very good, easily better than the vast majority of Chinese beers, and — although one can get in trouble for claiming this in South Korea — clearly vastly superior to the mass-market South Korean stuff.”
Taedonggang — the country’s only “macro” brewer — was created at the behest of the late leader Kim Jong-il in the early 2000s when North Korea acquired a shuttered British brewery and shipped it piece-by-piece back to Pyongyang. By 2008, it reportedly employed 350 workers. The Pyongyang Beer Festival exclusively served the brewery’s seven beverages, named — in true socialist fashion — Taedonggang 1, Taedonggang 2, Taedonggang 3, etc. Cockerell described Number 1 as a “delicious, proper beer” made completely with barley, while the others included lighter concoctions and iterations of coffee stouts and chocolate stouts.
Josh Thomas, an American amateur brewer who was based in Hong Kong for five years, has tried what he described as an “absolutely insane amount” of Asian beers. He said that Taedonggang is “significantly better” than any other mass-market beer on the continent, chiefly because the best-selling beers of North Korea’s neighbors — Cass and Hite in South Korea, Snow and Tsingtao in China, and Asahi Super Dry and Kirin in Japan — are rice-based, light, and somewhat watered down. But since rice is so scarce in North Korea, brewers there tend to rely more on barley, which makes beer darker, maltier, and richer.
The lack of sufficient electricity for large-scale refrigeration, likewise, limits what sorts of beers are produced. Higher brewing temperatures thus yield more ales and “steam beer.” Thomas likened Taedonggang 1 to the American beer Anchor Steam.
But Taedonggang only accounts for part of the North Korean beer market. Since the lack of fuel and good transportation networks have traditionally made it difficult to ship beer around the country, there are a wide array of microbreweries. Many produce what’s akin to low-quality home brew, but higher-end hotels, restaurants, and bars that cater to privileged locals and foreigners can yield more interesting concoctions.
In 2013, Thomas organized a customized “beer tour” of North Korea and encountered everything from oatmeal stouts and chocolate porters to pale ales. “Some are fantastic, like the Yanggakdo Hotel brewery bar,” he recalled. “And some are pretty bad — like the beer at the bowling alley.”
Of course, in a country that still struggles to feed its population, most locals don’t have the means to enjoy these high-end brews. That doesn’t mean they don’t drink though. Cockrell said that most North Koreans still prefer soju liquor, which is easier to produce and yields more alcohol for the money. But there are now “a huge number” of bars in Pyongyang, and beer can be found throughout the country. He says that Pyongyang men (but not women) now even receive vouchers for beer rations, which can get them around one-to-two liters of free beer at lower-end bars each month.
“I would say the average Pyongyang man would drink beer fairly frequently — at least once a week,” Cockrell said. “People in the countryside drink less often, and some never at all. Beer culture is something still developing — it is mainly still men going to a bar after work, drinking a couple of beers, and then going home… It is more of a utilitarian approach to consumption.”
Foreign beer enthusiasts, however, are often delighted by the unexpected richness of North Korea’s craft beer scene. For Josh Thomas, one of the things that stuck out most on his tour was how the very limited ingredients and brewing technology seemed to — for better or worse — force innovations he’d not seen anywhere else. “North Koreans are incredibly clever at making do with very little,” he said in an interview with Wired shortly after his trip. “They honestly were able to make more interesting beers than most other countries of the world.”
17 Aug. 2016