Even though we are still talking about a niche product, interest in craftsman-brewed speciality beers is growing in many European countries. The micro-breweries are benefiting from the fact that beer-lovers are increasingly on the lookout for variety in a mass market that continues to be more and more dominated by fewer and fewer major players. Many consumers are reacting to globalisation by demanding sustainable, locally manufactured products, and the premium image of these beers is just the sort of thing that meets this demand. Another reason for their success is the sense of transparency and freshness that results from the production process being clearly visible to guests/customers. Breweries attached to restaurants also represent an important entertainment factor. Part 2 of our European survey of Micro-Breweries and Brewpubs.
To many people, Danish beer is primarily associated with the Danish company Carlsberg, the fourth largest brewery company in the world. Established in 1847, Carlsberg currently employs 41,000 people and makes more than 500 beer brands at some 80 breweries worldwide with big brands as Carlsberg, Tuborg and Baltika, as well as smaller regional and local brands. Although Carlsberg is the dominant brewery in Denmark, there is much more to say about Danish beer. Altogether, Danish breweries and foreign subsidiaries reached a global turnover of DKK69 bn in 2011, which is an 85 percent increase compared to the DKK37 bn in 2000. A very high share (49 percent) of the beer produced in Denmark is exported to other countries. Looking at the European countries, only Ireland, Holland and Belgium have a higher exported share of domestic production.
The Danish beer scene has changed dramatically with a growing number of micro-breweries and brands. “We have experienced a beer revolution during the last decade,” says Per Sten Nielsen at the Danish Brewers’ Association. “Since 2000, the number of brewers in Denmark increased from 20 to 120. There are now seven to eight big players, with Carlsberg and Royal Unibrew in the lead, and then the rest are micro-breweries specialising in small-scale production of premium beer, and approximately 40 phantom breweries,” explains Per Sten Nielsen. Even Carlsberg has jumped on the bandwagon and established its own microbrewery, Husbryggeriet Jacobsen. The number of breweries increased rapidly each year since 2000, but after the economic downturn in 2008, some went out of business and the number has then stabilised at 120 during the last few years. The total consumption of beer in Denmark is declining as many Danes are cutting down on alcoholic beverages and also shifting more to wine. The average beer consumption has decreased from over 100 l to 68 l per person per year during the last decade. Most significant is the change of consumers’ beer preferences, favouring the sales of imported beer and beer from micro-breweries and the explosion of new brand options available in the market.
According to the Danish Brewers’ Association, about 20 of the 120 brewer companies in Denmark combine their micro-brewing business with foodservice in a restaurant or pub. There is no chain formation in this segment yet; all are individual concepts.
Nørrebro Bryghus is situated in Ryesgade in central Copenhagen. It is a brewery, restaurant and bar across two floors, founded in 2003 by brew master Anders Kissmeyer. One of the co-founders was Claus Meyer, the well-known Danish gastronomic entrepreneur. Their goal was to give unique experiences in taste and broaden the knowledge of and desire to drink hand-crafted beer – in other words to strengthen and broaden the Danish beer culture. The bar and the restaurant serve up to 10 different hand-brewed Nørrebro Bryghus beers and guest brews from other Danish breweries. Available beers at the moment include Stuykman Wit, Çeske Böhmer, New York Lager, Ravnsborg Rød, Furesø Framboise and Pacific Summer Ale. The maximum capacity of the Ryesgade brewery is just below 200,000 l a year. Most of the beer from this brewery unit is consumed by guests in the restaurant and bar including bottles for take-away sales. Another brewery west of Copenhagen produces for external sales to other Copenhagen restaurants and bars, 40 cl bottled beers for supermarkets and specialty stores around the country and also for export to Scandinavia and North America. Nørrebro Bryghus has an eco-friendly profile and was the first Danish Brewery to launch a CO2 neutral beer, called Glob Ale. The entire brewery is CO2 neutral when it comes to use of energy in electricity and gas.
The restaurant has a high profile and serves lunch and dinner six days a week (closed on Sundays). Beer is one of the central ingredients in many of the dishes and effort is made to recommend the beer best suited to accompany each meal, considering the four determining qualities when beer accompanies food – the carbon dioxide, the bitterness, the remaining sweetness and the alcohol. The aim is to be a 100 percent dedicated beer kitchen, inspired from the traditional Nordic kitchen, but far from the conventional beer-food. Beer is used as liquid, taste and spice in soups, desserts, sauces and in stews. The chef’s lunch menu at DKK250 consists of three dishes, currently: 1) Mussels steamed in beer; 2) Porchetta with beer braised onions, baked winter veggies and sauce with pork cheeks and; 3) Mazarin with apple compote flavoured with Little Korkny Ale, vanilla crème and caramel. Other lunch options are various kinds of Danish ‘Smørrebrød’, homemade hamburger with potato wedges, cold cut meat platters, sandwiches and salads. Three kinds of unspecified home-made Danish “Smørrebrød” including 1 large draught beer and 1 snaps are available at DKK199. “Our most popular option is the set five course dinner, which includes five 25 cl beers (DKK500 per person),” says Restaurant Director, Maj Gerster Toppenberg. The restaurant also has a Brewer’s Table, a special table seating six to eight persons, overlooking the brewery, to be booked for a special experience.
At DKK125 per person, groups of 8-40 persons can get a tour of the brewery; a one-hour lecture on the beer making process, the different beer types and the history behind the brewery including a taste of Nørrebro Bryghus’ own crafted beers. The customer profile in the restaurant is a mix of all ages but relatively few very young people (18-22 years). About 55 percent of customers are males and 45 percent females. www.noerrebrobryghus.dk
BrewPub is another example of a Danish micro-brewery with its own restaurant and pub, situated in a historic 17th century building just off the main square in the heart of Copenhagen. BrewPub was established in 2004. All beer produced in the brewery is served in-house. There are 14 draught taps with unfiltered beer flowing directly from the brewery’s storage vats. Beers from other micro-breweries as well as imported quality beers are also served. “Since we opened, we have introduced more than 150 different beers,” says Jens Mortensen of BrewPub.
The venue – restaurant, pub, beer garden – has room for approximately 280 guests. The pub seats 50 and a pub food menu is served from noon until 10.30 pm. The typical pub dishes include BrewPub Burger, Pepper Steak, Beuf Bearnaise, Ribeye Steak, Fish n’ Chips, Steak Pie, Tapas and Cheese Plates. During the summer months there is a beer garden seating 140 guests in the brewery courtyard. BrewPub market their concept as ‘The New Danish Beerkitchen’. All dishes are made from scratch with the ingredients of the season and often with ingredients from the brewery.
The restaurant seats 90 guests and serves a Major Lunch Plate, which is a daily selection of five different warm and cold dishes. The evening menu changes every six to eight weeks but typically includes steak dishes from the grill and the house specialty is Beer Braised Pork Cheeks & Smoked Pork Tenderloin. The meat of the pork cheeks are braised for long in the Brewery‘s top-fermented beer (ale), and seasonal herbs. They are served with lightly smoked barded pork tenderloin, salsify, grilled onion and onion sprouts. Guided tours and tastings are offered both by reservation and there is an open tour every Monday evening. The guest profile is very mixed but the typical guest is 30+, men/women: 60/40, private/ business: 65/35. www.brewpub.dk
The family owned FUR Bryghus was opened in September 2004 by Mildred and Mogens Fog. It is situated in the northern part of the small island of Fur in Denmark. The brewhouse was established in a two-storied, red wooden building from 1926, which contains a restaurant and a pub in addition to the microbrewery. The founders’ vision back in 2004 was to create a unique brewing house that would help make the island a tourist attraction based on a quality beer and food experience. Another goal was to employ five to six persons. Today, the brewery has 30,000-40,000 guests annually and employs 15 people (35 during peak season). There are 20 different beer varieties distributed between the two brands FUR and Vulcano and include Ale, Lager, Porter, Pilsner, Steam Beer and Barley Wine. Besides the beer, FUR sells its own label bottled water and produces its own line of snaps (akvavit) in co-operation with the micro-destillery Braunstain. Maximum brewing capacity is 400,000 l/800,000 bottles per year.
Products are distributed through the pub’s own sales representatives around Denmark to customers such as Coop and other grocery chains, wine specialty stores as well as other restaurants and pubs. The breakdown in terms of sales is 60 percent in bottles and 40 percent in casks. The restaurant is named Bryghuset, with room for 65 persons. The pub Pejestuen seats an additional 35 persons. Sitting in the pub and the restaurant, guests can watch the production process in the brewery through a glass window.
There is an outside terrace for approximately 100 guests and a tent for 200 persons in the summertime. Lunch and dinner offerings consist of traditional cold and hot dishes produced by ingredients from local suppliers. The best-selling food item is herring. There is an active calendar of events and specials such as Sunday Buffet, Friday Steak, Barbeque Evening, Oktoberfest, Christmas Lunch, Live Concert, etc. www.furbryghus.dk
Whether blonde, brown, green, red, malted, fruity, flavoured, ecological, with English overtones, a German accent or, quite recently, also Spanish, beer brewed by master brewers is enjoying increasing popularity in Spain. More than 150 ‘micro-cervecerías‘ (micro-breweries) offering around 250 brands are listed in the yearbook of beers brewed by craftsmen in Spain, although their production scarcely amounts to 0.005 percent of the entire 33.6 m hl of beer produced in Spain in 2011. Experts, however, estimate that the market share could climb to 5.5 percent by 2025. The interest in higher-quality beers and a wider variety of tastes is definitely there even if the prices are up to three times higher than industrially produced beers. These liquid ‘miniature works of art’ with their individual signature are mostly sold in the close geographical neighbourhood of the micro-breweries via the local retailers or restaurants with an interest in unusual taste experiences. In certain cases, such as the El Raco d’en Cesc in Barcelona (www.elracodencesc.com) or the El Bohio (www.elbohio.net) in Toledo, master brewers and chefs actually cooperate with the aim of creating a perfect compositional match between the beer and the dish served.
On the other hand, trained master brewers or those who are self-taught in the art, who can spatially bundle production and consumption, in other words, can provide production with a gastronomic component, are few and far between. One is Olaf Martí for example: since 1993, the master brewer, who formerly worked as an electrician, has been running La Cervesera Artesana (www.lacervesera.net) in Barcelona’s Gràcia quarter. In his small brewing laboratory, full of impressively gleaming brass kettles – visible from the bar through a large pane of glass – he experiments with the widest variety of tastes: light beers tasting of flowery tea, dark beers with a hint of piquancy or creations using Cayenne pepper, wild berries and/or strawberry orange. “Beer is a multi-faceted drink, full of subtle nuances of taste,” says Martí. Selling varieties brewed by craftsmen is “not easy, because Spain does not have a beer culture that has enabled consumers to differentiate among the wide variety of variables in taste.” There was also a pedagogical thought at the back of his mind when Martí worked out his easy-to-follow menu, which for some dishes recommends the beer that goes with them best – for example the “pollo a la cerveza.”
Along with their own nine ‘Iberian’ beers brewed in the traditional English style, Martí also offers draft and bottled beers from other manufacturers. To go with them, there are tapas from ?3.95 to ?5.45 as well as ‘torrades’ (slices of bread with toppings) from ?4.85 to ?8.45. A whole pint from his brewery costs ?4.85, a half ?3.10. The bestseller? Iberian Pale Ale. Most popular foodwise are the ‘torrades de chorizo ibérico’ and croquettes. In value terms, the F&B ratio is about 30:70. Each guest leaves around ?7.50 behind in the tavern brewery with its brick walls, objets d’art and pictures of actors. Most of the beer aficionados are young – “and there are more boys than girls.”
Eighty percent of the amount produced is sold right there across the counter in the earthy togetherness of the bar (12 seats) and restaurant (around 30), while the remaining 20 percent is sold under the ‘Iberian’ brand name in specialist shops or online. There are various courses available that help to strengthen the close ties between the pub and its guests.
There is a similar ratio at Birra & Blues (www.birraeblues.com), a Canadian type brewpub on the promenade in the north of Valencia. The house brewery, which has seating for 20, was opened in July 2011 by the Italian Casto Giagnorio at the back of the Italian restaurant Spaghetti & Blues, which he also runs. The two are separated by a long bar complete with taps, behind which, and separated by a large pane of glass, the impressive aesthetics of the beer-brewer’s art are revealed.
The three types of beer, namely a pale ale, ‘double malta’ and ‘tostada’, are produced by a master brewer: a total of around 2,000 L a day. They are drawn fresh from the barrel – the pale ale just 24 hours after brewing – for guests to take with them or for sale in specialised shops or for online mail order; they are also available in Cava-bottles. The box containing three bottles is available for ?25 and a single bottle sells at ?6. The bestseller is Doble Malta.
There is no menu especially tailored to the different types of beer: Spaghetti & Blues can seat 40 and offers pizza, pasta, meat and fish. Here, Valencians and tourists spend around ?22.50. So, overall, the restaurant accounts for 85 percent of the revenue, the pub for 15 percent.
The capital also has a micro-brewery with a foodservice part: the Naturbier (www.naturbier.com) brewhouse restaurant, which opened in 1989 on the popular Plaza Sta. Ana, and regards itself as belonging to the ‘themed gastronomy’ species, is run by the Ruiz Mateos family and has brewed its own beer since 2005: light and dark, 100 percent natural – “without any artificial colourings preservatives or fining agents that affect its taste,” as it says on their website, and almost exclusively for on-the-spot consumption.
The restaurant is 560 sq m in area and has room for 60 people. It has down-to-earth ‘rustic’ décor and recently put its vaulted cellar to good use gastronomically by adding seating for 80. The USP is that people can draw their own beer in the beer cellar from miniature beer-taps in the middle of the table. A litre costs ?7. Spanish tapas are served as accompaniments. The bestselling beer is ‘Naturbier Rubia’. Seventy percent of guests are tourists, 30 percent are locals. With opening hours from 8 am to 1 am there are approximately 2,500 guests per week. Sales are estimated at ?2 m. In the mornings, you can observe Alex Schmid, who is a master brewer trained in Germany, at work in the basement around the brass boilers. It is generally very difficult to say what the future of micro-breweries in Spain will be. Should there be an increase in interest in unusual beers, as the experts have forecast, it is anticipated that this niche will be occupied by the large industrial breweries, which can invest in the brands and their sales and distribution in quite different dimensions from those of individual players. And the only people who will be able to stand up to the big breweries are those who, by bundling production and sales into one space, have already sustainably built up credibility and a closeness, indeed almost an intimacy, to the customer: an advantage for the micro-breweries.
Italy is traditionally a wine country. Beer is an acquired taste. But acquired it is: while the consumption of wine has been steeply declining for decades (from 120 L per capita in the 1970s to under 40 L in 2011, source: Assoenologi), beer has climbed from 16.7 L per capita in 1980 to 28.9 L in 2011 (source Assobirra). Above all, Italians love specialty and premium beers, which together total 43 percent of sales.
In this contest, craft beer is a relatively new phenomenon, the first brewpub appearing in 1995, but its popularity is ever increasing. In April 2011, a report by Altis-Unionbirrai counted 219 micro-breweries and 116 brewpubs, producing an estimated 137.680 hl, representing little more than 1 percent of the total beer production in Italy. Recent estimates put the number of micro-breweries and brewpubs at over 400.
As Agostino Arioli, founder and brewer of Birrificio Italiano, puts it, “micro-brewery in Italy has outgrown the infancy stage and is now well into the tumultuous growth of adolescence,“ with all its energy, enthusiasm, promise and confusion. “In a mature craft beer market there will be less beers aimed only at surprising with firework effects and more emphasis on well balanced, elegant beers, full of character yet for everyday consumption,“ says Arioli. “But at the moment, consumers are still keen to sample beers for the sake of novelty and effect.“
Arioli is a micro-brewing pioneer, having started brewing beer for home consumption in 1985. With an agricultural degree and some professional experience in industrial breweries, Arioli turned his hobby into a full time work and opened the brew pub Birrificio Italiano (www.birrificio.it) in Lurago Marinone, near Como in 1996. In the beginning, production facilities shared space with the pub itself, with an ageing cellar below it. Now production has moved to a new facility 1.5 km from the pub, which Arioli now defines as a gastropub, serving Birrificio Italiano’s own beers and a menu thought out to complement them by Agostino‘s brother, Stefano. Turnover is equally split between beer and food (50 percent each). The move has been dictated by the increasing volumes: Birrificio Italiano now produces 3,000 hl a year, only one fifth being served directly in the pub, the rest being sold through other channels. Birrificio Italiano has a portfolio of beers ranging from the solid base of the smoothest and easy to drink, such as allyear Tipopils or B.I. Weizen, to seasonal and specialty labels.
“The market is now euphoric and things are looking very well for Birrificio Italiano,” confides Arioli. On the whole though, he puts it at only about 20 the really successful micro-beweries and brewpubs in Italy. The question of scale is crucial: “Craft beer is costly,“ says Arioli, “and you have to sell a lot to be competitive. A small brewpub is difficult to run economically, unless it employs the brewer and his family. I put the minimum vital selling volume at 400-500 hl per annum.”
The year 1996 saw the beginning of another success story. In that year, Teo Musso, a young pub owner in Piozzo, a small village in Piedmont, started brewing his own beer on the premises. The pub was (and still is) called Le Baladin (www.baladin.it) and was stocking a selection of about 200 artisanal beers from all Europe. Le Baladin’s own beer was an overnight success and in 1998 the fermenting facilities had to be moved to another part of the village, with the beer being piped 300 m from and to the pub via what Teo named ‘birrodotto’, ‘beer pipeline’. Finally, production volumes exceeded the small scale of the pioneering facilities and a new factory was built. Nowadays, Teo Musso is the most famous Italian craft brewer, known also outside beer circles for his public involvement in promoting quality craft beer. Baladin is the first Italian micro-brewer with volumes topping 7,500 hl. Musso is also well known for his commitment to the Slow Food philosophy and to sustainability issues. Despite his many activities, Musso takes personal responsibility for the entire production cycle of his beers, starting from the land to the ingredients used to produce them. For instance, the company defines itself as a farm-brewery, as already 85 percent of all barley used is sourced from 68 ha rented and farmed in Piedmont and Southern Italy by company staff with organic methods. Baladin plan to cultivate 100 ha of barley in the near future as well as wheat and hops; and in the next three years to create a micro inhouse malting facility for the production of special malts made from barley grown in Piedmont. In 2012 Baladin launched Nazionale, the first 100 percent Italian ale, made only with Italian ingredients directly cultivated by Baladin farm brewery. In the meantime, Le Baladin in Piozzo, the pub where everything began is now the core of a small group with seven outlets. Two of them are called Open Baladin and besides the home brews also serve a selection of more than a hundred Italian craft beers, with a view of increasing the consumer‘s knowledge of quality craft beer. Then there are two Baladin Cafés in Piedmont, selling only Baladin products (beers and Baladin Cola). The Petit Baladin in Turin is a small gastropub, whereas Casa Baladin is a beer restaurant with rooms.
A few years ago, Oscar Farinetti, owner of Eataly, bought a share of Baladin. He and Teo Musso teamed up with two independent craft brewers: Italian Leonardo di Vincenzo of Birra del Borgo (www.birradelborgo.it) and American Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head to open the two Birreria brewpubs inside the Eataly outlets in New York and Rome. In Birreria Roma and Birreria NY, three draft beers are brewed on the premises, and each Birreria also serves a selection of bottled beers from the three brewers and other quality craft brewers. Finally, No.Au in Rome, opened by Baladin in partnership with Birra del Borgo and with baker Gabriele Bonci, where the focus is on ‘reserve’ beers and biodynamic wines.
According to the results of the 7th beer barometer, published in June 2012 by the Federation of Belgian Brewers, beer remains the number one drink in Belgian cafés.
Belgium is said to have more than 1,000 beers and enjoys the greatest choice of authentic classic and local beers. Although pils lager still heads the field, speciality beers are gaining ground: abbey beers (14.9 percent, mostly French speakers), strong blond beers (14.3 percent, mostly men), trappist beers (14.8 percent, mostly Walloon men) and regional beers (7.8 percent). “Speciality luxury beers are now of a very good quality. The brewers have invested considerable money in their equipment, and their products are now pretty faultless. For four or five years, there‘s been a noticeable increase in interest from customers. It‘s much broader in terms of taste than wine,“ explains Marc Lemay, Commercial Director of Brasserie Dubuisson, with conviction.
In 2000, Brasserie Dubuisson (the oldest brewery in Wallonia) opened its first micro-brewery, Le Brasse Temps, in Louvain-La-Neuve. It was in this student town that the brewer (whose premises are located in Pipaix) launched its ‘Cuvée des Trolls’, an unfiltered blond beer, 7 percent alcohol by volume, which is more specifically targeted at a young clientele.
“We needed a place where we could reach these consumers. It was a profitable way of investing in our brands,” explains Marc Lemay. Le Brasse Temps produces an amber beer (5 percent alcohol), a white beer (4.5 percent), a lemon beer for the summer (3.5 percent) and a brown beer (6 percent). The beers are brewed on the premises and are stored either in 1,000 litre tanks, which are directly linked to the serving pumps, or in barrels which are filled on site. The Cuvée des Trolls, which is also brewed on the premises, is not filtered after racking. The yeasts simply settle during the racking period, but a small quantity remains in the beer when it is served to customers. The establishment also sells its Bush beers (brewed in Pipaix). They sell only beers that are brewed by the Brasserie Dubuisson: no pils lager, no trappist, no abbey beers.
The formula very quickly became successful: the micro-brewery went from 200 to 300 seats. Three years later, a second Brasse Temps with 200 seats (and subsequently 300) opened up in the city of Mons, next door to the cinema complex. “We had big problems with the food side in the Louvain venture. It wasn‘t what we we‘re trained to do. We stopped offering food for a while. Students could come and drink their beer and bring their own sandwiches,” Marc Lemay continues. To avoid any further disappointments, the new venture in Mons is run in partnership with the Moresto company of Mouscron, which specialises in HoReCa management and catering. 550 hl of beer are brewed there and, in addition, 150 hl of Dubuisson Bush beer are sold, plus 350 hl of soft drinks. “Food represents 56 percent of our business,“ the Commercial Director reckons. They offer a typical brasserie menu composed of pasta, beer-based dishes, such as beef stew, ’oiseaux sans tête’ (veal birds) and meat for an average bill of ?16. All the other special features of Le Brasse Temps at Louvain-la-Neuve have been kept the same and most notably the exclusive menu of Dubuisson beers, the ‘rafale‘ concepts (range of beers for tasting) and other typical drinks. In May 2003, the Brasserie Dubuisson opened its new visitor centre in Pipaix, along with the ’Troll&Bush’ tavern, which merges the brewery‘s two flagship brands into a single name. Located on the brewery site, but without a micro-brewery, the operating formula for the Troll&Bush is identical to the one at the Brasse Temps. www.br-dubuisson.com
Head of the Brasserie des Fagnes, located in Mariembourg, Frédéric Adant has come to the same conclusion: cooking is something altogether different. A year ago, he took on three chefs and broadened the range of food the kitchen could provide. “Before, we were offering just cold dishes. We carried out a survey among our customers, which gave us an idea of what they expected in the way of food. We‘ve opted to offer a quality menu,” the ‘patron‘ explains. The establishment, which has 620 seats (including 270 on the terrace), is faced with one particular challenge: how to cope with providing food when they can go from serving 30 covers in the week to 500 on a Sunday. “The menu is constructed around fresh and regional produce,“ he says. The on-site micro-brewery produces some 50 different beers a year.
Their regular, fixed range is composed of four Super des Fagnes beers: blond, fine, griotte (sour cherry) and scotch. The recipes evolve during the year: fruity in spring, with more body in the autumn.
They sell no cola but the brand has developed an alcohol-free beer brewed with caramel for children. “Our customers come, above all, to sample the beer and not to get drunk. Everything is brewed by us. The establishment has a capacity of 900 hl a year,“ continues Adant, who is also in charge of the Comptoir des Fagnes, a 1,200 sq m shop for catering professionals, which is open to private individuals too, as well as the Brasserie Lavaux, a trading company dealing in all types of drink aimed at HoReCa professionals, businesses, communities and festivities. www.brasseriedesfagnes.be
Back in the Soviet era, when free enterprise was not possible, micro-breweries were out of the question. The market was dominated by mass-produced beers of domestic manufacture, such as Zhigulevskoye, which, at the peak of its popularity, was made by 735 breweries around the country. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the active development of the Russian beer market began, with various imported beer brands hitting the stores. Russian breweries started production under the license of world-renowned beer brands such as Heineken, Efes Pilsner, Carlsberg, Miller; new beers of Russian origin were also created. In 2011, per capita beer consumption in Russia was 75.4 l. In 2011, the country had 561 working breweries that included 40 large factories, 76 regional breweries, 263 microbreweries and 182 restaurant breweries. In response to the transnational companies, which dominate the beer market and offer the mass consumer cheap pale lager, Russia has seen an increasing interest in home brewing and ‘live’ draft beer. Although in 2011 micro-breweries produced only 1 percent of the total volume of beer, their numbers are continuing to grow. It is notable that during the crisis in 2008-2010, the major producers‘ earnings went down considerably, whereas the mood amongst the pubs and restaurants selling beer was rather confident.
The first restaurants with an on-site brewery appeared in Russia in the mid-1990s. Many of them are still functioning, although in-house beer production did not grow into a mass phenomenon.
First of all, setting up production raises the price of opening a restaurant by $50,000-100,000, which is spent on purchasing equipment and providing resources (water, electricity, personnel). Second, the brewery itself and the storage facilities require an additional floor space of 100 sq m, which, considering the heavy rental charges and the shortage of available locations, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg, is a luxury few can afford. Besides, the Russian laws place heavy restrictions on breweries; for example, a brewery cannot be opened in a residential building. These requirements are hard to meet in the restricted urban conditions. As a result, there are few restaurants with an on-site brewery. However, beer concepts based on beers imported or bottled at local brewing factories under their own brand names are fairly wide-spread. The two best-known chains of restaurants with on-site breweries are Tinkoff and Maximilian’s. Both have the same development strategy: only one outlet per city and every restaurant with seating for a large number of guests. Entrepreneur Oleg Tinkov came up with his concept of Tinkoff private breweries in 1998; the first restaurant opened in St. Petersburg. In 2009, he sold a chain of then 10 restaurants to Mint Capital investment fund. At the end of 2010, the restaurant chain was sold again without the current owner’s name being disclosed.
Today the chain has one restaurant in each of eight Russian cities: Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Sochi and four more. The average floor space is 1,200 sq m, the restaurant can take up two or three storeys and seat from 200 to 550 guests. In each restaurant, the brewery is located in the dining hall, separated from the seating area by a glass wall. If the restaurant takes up several storeys, each floor has a different brewery section. Tinkoff restaurants offer nine kinds of beer, including Platinum Unfiltered, Platinum Filtered, White Wheat, Light, Gold and Dark. The beer list also includes the seasonal varieties, such as Zimny Bock (Winter Bock – a strong beer with the flavour of wine), Belye Nochi (White Nights – a refreshing pale beer with a fruity aroma), Zolotaya Osen‘ (Golden Autumn – a semi-dark strong beer with a rich caramel flavour) and non-alcoholic beer. The restaurants serve European and Japanese cuisine; the average check comes to RUB700-1,200/?17.50-30 depending on the location. Each restaurant has a stage where live concerts are held several times a week. www.tinkoff.ru
Maximilian’s is a chain of Bavarian style restaurants and breweries operated by the Dolce Vita Group – a restaurant company from Naberezhnye Chelny. Apart from the restaurant in this town, the chain has three more outlets: in Yekaterinburg, Kazan and Samara. The restaurants seat 400-500 people. The breweries are located in the restaurant and separated from the dining hall by a glass wall. The beer is made from hops and malt supplied by a German company from Bamberg; the brewery equipment comes from Austria. The breweries make three types of beer: Lager, Weizen (wheat beer) and Dark. The restaurant serves German cuisine; the menu was developed by brand chef Hans Voll. The guests have a choice of Frankfurt, Thuringian, Nuremberg and Munich sausages or pork knuckles to go with their beer. There is also a Bavarian platter for parties of guests. The average check is RUB1,200/?30. The décor recreates the interior of a traditional German beer house, with many antique features dating back to the 1800s and early 1900s: stained glass artworks, staircases, fireplace portals, etc. www.maximilians.ru
Brewing companies that have their own brewing factories and specialise in retail beer sales are also opening restaurants with micro-breweries. The Pyaty Okean trading house was established by entrepreneur Vladimir Matveev in 1999. The Moscow-based Pyaty Okean brewery produces ‘live’ unfiltered beer that is shipped in secondary fermentation tanks (500 L and 250 L) and sold through a chain of company stores and in large supermarkets. The Pyaty Okean (Fifth Ocean) restaurant has its own microbrewery that produces pale, red and dark beer. The beer arrives at the tables automatically from the brewery located on the first floor: the drink flows through a cooling pipeline to the taps on each table. The 800 sq m restaurant seats up to 300 guests and serves mixed cuisine, with a wide range of beer snacks: hot chicken wings, crayfish and shrimp. The interior is decorated in a marine style: doors with portholes, yacht lamps and posters with images of ships and seas adorning the walls. www.fifth-ocean.ru
Baltika Brew is a joint project by the Beerproduction company and the Baltika brewing company, one of the leaders in the Russian beer market (market share approximately 38 percent). Baltika breweries are located in 10 Russian cities including St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Tula, Voronezh, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Chelyabinsk, and Krasnoyarsk. In St. Petersburg, the Baltika Brew restaurant, with a floor space of 1,700 sq m, seats 500 guests. The outlet has four dining halls, one of them with a playroom. Guests are offered specialty types of beer developed by the Baltika research centre. For instance, the Hoochie Coochie Ale – a pale oat ale, the Yazyk Ognya (Tongue of Fire) – a red beer, and the Kriek Dushi (Scream of the Soul) – a cherry beer. The restaurant serves mixed cuisine; there are Russian, European and Indian dishes on the menu. The average check is RUB800-1,000/?20-25.www.baltika-brew.ru
Individual restaurants with their own micro-breweries can also be found in a metropolitan cities. The 16 Tonn (16 tons) pub in Moscow and the Karl and Friedrich restaurant in St. Petersburg can boast their own breweries. 16 Tonn, the two-storey English pub, opened in the Russian capital in 1996. The brewery is located on the first floor and is separated from the dining hall by a glass wall. It brews three patented types of ale: Special Light, Special Red and Double Dark. The restaur ant serves mixed cuisine and the average check is RUB1,500. On the second floor, there is a popular night club with parties and live concerts almost every night. www.16tons.ru/en
Karl and Friedrich, the two-storey restaurant with a summer terrace and a children‘s playroom, opened its doors in St. Petersburg in 2000. The interior is a replica of a Bavarian brewery. Built to a custom design by a Bavarian company, the brewery is visible to all the restaurant guests. It brews four beers all the year round, for example Karl I, a pale unfiltered barley beer, and Karl II, a semi-dark unfiltered barley beer. It also brews five seasonal beers including Grunhopfen, Christmas and March. The restaurant serves European cuisine and the average check is RUB700- 1,000/?17.5-25. www.k-f.ru