We all know that Russia famous for its vodka, it even has a vodka museum devoted to it, but the tradition of beer brewing is also strong in St. Petersburg, with the Stepan Razin Brewery the oldest brewery in Russia. This brewery houses the St. Petersburg Beer Museum and it is well worth a visit for fans of beer and history alike. To gain (free!) admission you need to be part of an organised tour group so make sure to contact Ulko Tours if you’d like to visit!
Founded in 1995 to honour the brewery’s 200th anniversary, the museum provides insight into the brewing process, the history of brewing in Russia, and the differences between small batch brewing at home and industrial brewing practices. The real delight at this museum, however, is the wealth of original items, some dating back over 300 years, and many donated by private collectors, and the tale of the Stepan Razin Brewery itself.
This brewery was founded in 1795 by Abraham Friedrich Krohn, a German immigrant who acquired the approval of Catherine the Great to establish something akin to a modern-day brewpub. He oversaw production of the ‘liquid bread’ at the brewery which was known in the Soviet era as the Kalinkinskiy Beer and Mead Co-operative. In 1915 the first beer was produced with the Stepan Razin label, which was inspired by a 17th Century Cossack rebel and pirate. Razin is famous in Russia, featuring in many heroic folk songs and stories.
Back when the brewery was founded, the master brewer would make this liquid gold in copper and clay pots from March to November and then barrel the beer and store it on ice for the winter. In the early 19th Century over 100,000 buckets of stout and beer were being produced here and shipped to Kiev, Moscow, and other cities as well as being sold to the navy and to hospitals as alcohol was often more sanitary and healthy than the water available at the time.
Now owned by Heineken, the Stepan Razin Brewery can be found at 11 Ulitsa Stepana Razina, and is reachable by metro Narvskaya, Baltiyskaya The museum is free to enter but is only open on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11am to 5pm. Remember to bring your photo ID, namely your passport, to gain admission, and be ready to sample some tasty beers from the Stepan Razin range. Only those who are part of an organized tour group can visit the museum so don’t expect to be able to just walk in off the street! Contact Ulko Tours now to arrange entrance and find out more about this great Russian brewing tradition.