It’s official: in Russia, beer is now alcohol

FROM BBC NEWS: President Dmitry Medvedev legally made beer an alcoholic beverage. Before that, since it was below 10% alcohol, it was classified as a foodstuff.

Russia’s vodka consumption over the past decade has gone down while beer consumption has gone up. With its designation as a food, it could be purchased at any store and at any time of the day (or night). It is also apparently considered more like a soft drink as compared to alcohol, so drinking on the street or throughout the day isn’t an uncommon sight.

“The law brings some order into the sale of beer,” Vadim Drobiz, director of the Centre for Federal and Regional Alcohol Market Studies, told US broadcaster Bloomberg.

Last year the Russian beer industry was hit by a 200% tax hike on its products as ministers sought to bring consumption under control.

The new measures – which come into effect in 2013 – will stop alcohol being sold in unlicensed kiosks, ban its sale from stores between certain hours and restrict its advertising.