Russians awoke to a scary new world on January 1 2013, a world in which beer has been categorised as an alcoholic beverage for the first time ever.

Previously, beer – and any other beverage under 10 per cent ABV – was considered a ‘foodstuff’ and freely availbale for purchase and roadside stalls, news stands and more.

Regarded as a ‘light’ refreshment, hard-drinking Russians traditionally turn their nose up at beer, preferring the traditional tipple of vodka as their poison of choice. However, with the average Russian now consuming around 18 litres of pure alcohol per annum, it seems that the popularity of beer is on the rise.

Heavy drinking – and its health complications – has recently come under scrutiny in the country where alcohol-related death rates sit around the alarming figure of 500,000 annually. As such, the sale of beer between 11pm and 8am will be outlawed along with sales from street outlets and television advertising.

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