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Russian beer revolution

The Russian economy has seen better days. Since the Crimean crisis and the West’s boycott, the vast nation has been in recession, and the rouble has lost nearly half of its value against the euro. The consequence for beer fans: imported beers have become quite expensive. The benefit? This development and a renewed interest in locally brewed beers have in many places resulted in a resurgence of privately owned regional breweries whose specialty beers appeal both to contemporary tastes and to consumer preferences. No doubt about it, Russia is experiencing something like a beer evolution.

One of these newly created breweries is the Kursk Beer Company Ltd. In 2012, Oleg Nosov and his business partner Grigory Davidenko decided to open a brewery of their own – after a major international brewing conglomerate closed its brewery in Kursk, Russia, around ten years ago, thus creating a sort of beer vacuum in the region. They brought many years of experience in beer distribution to the table, and knew the industry inside out. So they purchased an empty building in Kursk, and installed their first brewing system – followed just five years later by a second one.


Greenfield project – with all the trimmings, please!

Demand grew, and sales increased rapidly. Now the management had to think about how to produce even more beer. After the company’s President Natalia Portalimova had looked at a few reference projects in Bavarian breweries, she had made her choice: “Of all the vendors out there, Krones did the best job of convincing us that they could deliver 21st-century brewing technology.” Krones won the contract for the complete brewing plant, from malt intake to the bright-beer tanks. For the new plant, Kursk Brewery built a new, two-storey building with 1,200 square meters of floor space on their premises. Krones delivered the equipment and took care of electronics and technology, while the brewery’s own staff completed the electrical and mechanical installation.


First brew right on target

Almost precisely a year after order placement, the new brewing plant began operation in August 2017. “The new Steinecker brewhouse made a great first impression: the very first brew was a success, and we were able to produce sales-quality beer right from the start,” explains Natalia Portalimova. The new brewing plant is meanwhile operating round the clock: 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 360 days a year. Once again, the Kursk Brewery has come up against the limits of its capacity.


Less input, more output

The new Steinecker brewhouse has increased the original plant’s capacity fourfold and also earns high marks for sustainability. “We’ve been able to significantly reduce energy and media consumption across the board compared with the old brewhouse, and we’re seeing far lower filtration losses,” says a gratified Natalia Portalimova. Personnel costs are also lower now, since the plant requires the same number of operators as the existing, non-automated brewhouse had needed for far lower outputs. That also helps the brewery to produce small batches of exclusive beers, particularly the top-fermented varieties. From the very beginning, Kursk had opted not to process any unmalted grain, but instead to brew exclusively with malted grain. Nevertheless, the variety of beers the brewery produces has doubled since its foundation to twelve regular brews, ranging from lagers to ales to yeast wheat beers. Kursk also makes a number of distinctive specialty beers on a rotating basis, such as an oatmeal stout, a porter or an American Pale Ale (APA).

One tip in conclusion: some of these beers from Kursk are available on draught for home consumption at special sales outlets – for maximally quaffable freshness.

And if you want to get some more information about the brewery, watch our video:


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1 Comment

The Beer Thrillers at 10. March 2020

Great article. Love the pictures too. Great seeing Russia get in on the craft beer revolution. Please check out my beer blog: https://thebeerthrillers.home.blog/

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