If you read Maria’s blog post about our latest trip, you know that I recently flew to Kamchatka, over the Bering Strait to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. Then on to Irkutsk, Kaliningrad, Amsterdam, and various spots in Deutschland before catching a direct flight back from Frankfurt. I really enjoyed Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. The main town on the Kamchatka Peninsula is a really cool place in the world, and it’s only a short 4.5-hour flight from Anchorage. The town is surrounded by large volcanoes, and the place really has a feel of Alaska to it, even though it’s on a different continent, and everything is in Russian in the Cyrillic alphabet. The public transportation is both cheap and convenient with busses arriving every 10 minutes.
One of the things I love about Russia is the relaxed laws about the sale of alcoholic beverages. Pазливное (razlivnoye), or draft beer is readily available all over Russia. The draft beer place will fill you a to-go plastic bottle of пиво (pivo), or beer in English, or you can have them pour it into a glass for you to drink on premise. That’s right, you can drink beer in public in Russia as if it’s a soft drink. Since they fill the plastic bottle first, that eliminates short pours and also limits the waste that happens at a growler bar in the States. I always cringe when I see a bartender just pouring beer foam down the drain. There is a lot of beer that gets thrown away that way. Is this why growlers are often $18? In Russia every cafe, and store, even the mini markets have an alcohol section. It’s way cheaper than here in the States, assuming you don’t buy some ungodly expensive imported something. Russian beer is about $.50 to $1 per half liter, and there isn’t a deposit as Russians are not really into recycling. The quality is somewhere between a decent Mexican lager and a rot gut malt liquor, depending what you order. Some of the dark beers, or the unfiltered white beers are actually quite a bit better. What you will not find readily available is any form of good IPA. I didn’t see any of that anywhere on this trip aside from what was marketed as IPA by Amstel (which is actually brewed in St. Petersburg by Baltika, which also produces Heineken and Hoegaarden). Russians also don’t seem to refrigerate stuff as often as I would expect. Most of the beers are served warm, and have some strange off flavor, which I think I have discerned as Diacetyl. Getting the pivo properly chilled seems to improve most of these less than crisp lagers. The one pictured here was purchased on draft at a local snack cafe near the beach in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. It was cold and refreshing, and I didn’t notice anything off about it. Maria and I shared a shawarma, some fries, and watched people at the beach and the town square. There were two gentlemen who appeared to be renting two battery operated toy cars to parents and their kids. The Russians are becoming quite the entrepreneurs. The sun was setting and it was a nice evening. We then walked back to our hotel and prepared to leave to Irkutsk and Lake Baikal the following morning.
Cheers to cold beer all over the world!