It’s 1997. I am in Russia! With Aileen, one of my best friends in the entire world. She was a Russian major in undergrad. And she wants to go to Russia. And so I say Da. And we fly British Airways from Chicago to London and then London to St. Petersberg and they give us Yorkie Bars on the plane and we think that’s the funniest thing ever–and we also live off our Yorkie Bars for days. Those things are pretty hearty.
But one of my favorite memories of Saint Petersberg is Baltika, the beer. I forget how we were introduced to it. But we were. And we got very into it. (OK, maybe I got very into it?) Because I loved how numerical they were about it. There’s just something so easy about saying "I’ll have the number 7!" I’ll come back to that in a moment.
So Baltika–they are the most popular beer brand in Russia, and they are the second largest selling beer after Heineken in Europe. (I have to guess it’s because they have a somewhat captive audience? I’d love to see their market share in the former USSR.) They’ve got 10 different varietes of beer to offer and here’s their thing–they number them. Now I used to think–and tell people–that they were ordered by alcohol content and/or lightness/darkness, but this is (sadly) not the case. I’ve just checked their Web site. They are just numbered. That’s fine. Although I think it would be SO much cooler if they were numbered in some sort of order.
So I was SO excited the other month when I walked into the Tube and I saw a huge poster about Baltika and the U.K. And then on the escalator at Angel, I saw these little mini posters.
Number 3 is here.
P.S. OK, I just checked their financial results and here’s their market share as of August 2006:
The Baltics: 43.8%
Oh, and I learned that Baltika is now a product of Scottish & Newcastle, who have three of the top ten brands in Europe by volume: Baltika, Kronenbourg 1664 and Foster’s.