Share Good Beer with Good People

To unearth a Russian craft-beer remains a challenge — at least when you do not live in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Yet, and so to speak, as everywhere else, a new generation is at work to change things about beer.

So far — and it was during a stay in the country — I had tested only one Russian craft-beer (see “From the Depths of Russia”).

So, here is a real curiosity, on two counts. It’s Russian and it’s craft, but in particular the style of this beer is in itself a rarity. Because what we have here is a Lichtenhainer, an historical beer style one might have thought extinct, originally brewed in Germany’s Thuringia and popular in that region until the end of the 19th Century.

It’s a pale beer between 3.5 and 4.7% ABV (4.4 in this case), brewed from lightly smoked barley malts — a light beer which will be a surprise for some, with its acid character due to the voluntary and controlled lactic-acid bacterial infection of the mash. The overall impression is a of a smoked and sour profile. But above all this Lichtenhainer is a very refreshing, fruity beer with a soft carbonation. An excellent job for a beer with such a low hop content, and perfectly balanced.

This “Pepel” (translation: Mash) comes from the Bakunin Brewery, launched in 2013 in St. Petersburg by three enthusiasts — Alexander Romanenko, Yuri Mitin, and the brew-master Vladimir Naumkin. These three pioneers have a slogan which we gladly share: “поделиться хорошим пивом с хорошими людьми”: “Share good beer with good people.”