Home Beer Priviet, Baltika!

Priviet, Baltika!

by Krista

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Paper Planes – M.I.A. (You gotta listen to the whole song. Give it more than 15 seconds. Thanks to David Byrne Radio, again, for introducing me to this classic.)

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.

Spasiba.

P.S. OK, I just checked their financial results and here’s their market share as of August 2006:
Russia: 35.6%
Ukraine: 17.7%
The Baltics: 43.8%
Kazakhstan: 29.6%

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.

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2 comments

Stonch September 25, 2007 - 10:14 am

Baltika lager (not sure which number) has been on sale over here for several years now. I remember first spotting it in the Angelic in Islington and at the Lord John Russell in Bloomsbury. It’s an uninspiring drop, but apparently the dark, baltic porter they produce is great. I have yet to try it.

slonik October 1, 2007 - 3:32 pm

Yes, the dark stuff (number 4 and number 6) is gorgeous and they also do a pretty decent wheat beer. Shame that the only stuff you can get over here so far seems to be the number 3 larger. Still, it’s not a bad larger as far as largers go, and may be if it does well they’ll start shipping over the rest.

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