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Sunday
Mar172013

ZHIGULI ORIGINAL

Zhiguli Original or, as you'd know if you spoke Russian, Zhiguli Firmennoe.

This is a beer with real history, founded in 1881 by an Austrian chap but it got its real traction in the Soviet era when it was, at times, the only beer you could get in Russia. Hence, it's fondly remembered by generations of Russian granddads who used it to chase down shots of vodka.

It was, at one point, the only beer you could be guaranteed to find anywhere in Russia and at its peak it had more than 700 breweries throughout Mother Russia.

Its success actually became part of its downfall, because its name became a generic word for "beer", so it couldn't be trademarked after the fall of the CCCP.

Anyway, it's not a bad brew at all and mine tasted all the better for its adventures on its way to me. It was hunter-gathered by my ice-racing buddy Alexander Evshtokin in St Petersburg and smuggled to meet me in Geneva by Maria Maguire. If only we'd had this system up and running during the cold war!

The Russians have long regarded beer as a soft drink, which is odd given that during its glory years, Zhiguli, by decree, could be made with anything between 3% and 15% ABV and still be considered normal.

It's a light, easy drinking beer that's crisp, carries a soft mouthfeel without heavy carbonation and you could knock it down all day long. I'd have another one, but I'm going to have to send the secret codeword to my Russian smugglers to get it.

As a random aside, Zhiguli is also the name of a particularly shit Russian cold war-era car. And now you know.

 

7/10

 

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