Yes there is plenty of craft beer in Uzbekistan and it’s great. If you travel to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, you will be very busy if you are passionate about beer. Take a look at this short video from Craft Brewing Company and get thirsty. Tashkent is filled with interesting microbreweries and tap rooms, here are the most relevant places to visit.
Uzbekistan has a population of 35 million whereof the majority are secular muslims. Uzbekistan was a part of the Soviet Union and the old tradition with beer as something you rinse down the vodka with is long gone. Beer is very popular and people prefer fresh locally brewed beer before big commercial lagers. Uzbekistan have their own macro brewery making the lager Sarbast and a few more beers. Uzbekistan was also known for it’s wineries that served other states in the former union. If you want to learn more about Uzbek wine culture, read the previous article on wine. But in this article we are diving into the Uzbek beer scene!
Crafty lagers and growlers
What strikes the visitor is the crazy amount of taps many bars and beer shops have. After a closer look it seems people really likes crafty lagers, German and Belgian blond beers and a few darker ones. Many lagers are coming in two versions, filtered and unfiltered. One of the well established beer outlets is Pelikan beers that has a handfull of beer shops in Tashkent. They have plenty of beers on tap and much on bottle. The Pelikan beer store below have 40 taps and the others a few less. If you are into IPA and stronger porters, Pelikan does often have them on bottle. Also Hammersmith bar is a good destination for crafted lagers and ales, as of April 2023 they had seven different beers made in their own brewery. There is also a few other smaller breweries like Gunnarsson and Bamberg that focus on lagers.
Beer lovers are slowly beginning to appreciate more flavoured beers and in a couple of years the majority of the taps wont be with lager but with IPA, Porters and Sours. Bar owners say more and more people ask for more flavourful beers. Neighbouring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have already a craft beer culture which is a few years ahead and gives a good picture on where Uzbekistan will be in a few years.
Growlers, take away bottles of beer are very popular. Almost every bar and tap room has the growler tap system. You can buy small one liter bottles and up to three liters. People doesen’t hang around in tap rooms sampling craft beer that much. It’s more usual that people meet at home and drink together.
Khmelnoy is a small beer shop on less than 20 m2 but has 12 taps with beer and a dedicated owner who is at constant chase for new beers. At the time of visit there was mainly different crafty lagers. Most beers are Uzbek but they do often have one or two beers from the town Sjymkent in neighbouring Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has many more breweries and the craft beer scene is in full swing. It’s just 20 km to the Kazak border from Tashkent.
Khmelnoy has one shop only but Pelikan a handfull and then there is also Beerkovich that has three bars in Tashkent. They have also plenty of taps and Beerkovich Avenue is just a few hundred meters away from a Pelikan beer shop. With 18 taps filled with beers it will keep you busy for a while. They have mainly different lagers but also IPA and a few other more flavourful styles. Beerkovich does also sell Uzbek wines, crafted spirits and some food. Every shop selling beers has also the very appreciated dried salty fish, smoked cheese and dried meat.
German beer is popular in Uzbekistan
Even if Germans had very few contacts with the Uzbeks, the German beer is well known for it’s reputation as a quality garant. One of the biggest microbreweries in Tashkent making German lagers is Bier Regen. It’s a huge beer hall with the brew kettels in the center of it. The capacity is relatively small but in constant use. They brew pilsner, Munich Dunkel and lager. As you read at the logo, it’s a Deutscher Hof and there is off course sausages and meaty dishes that goes well with the beer.
Craft Brewing Company in Tashkent
The main event on the trip to Uzbekistan was the visit at Craft brewing company. The first and biggest craft brewery in Uzbekistan leading the way for the craft beer wave. This is where the Uzbek beer journey has it’s source. The brewer Albert Musin and Sergey Pak who is running daily operations is showing the brewery below. Both very enthusiastic and passionate about beer.
Craft Brewing Company has almost 50 beers registered at the beer app Untappd but have brewed almost 100 different so far. Not all of them registered and many have only been sold at their brewpub. Their brewer Albert Musin is at constant work since the demand is high and capacity of the storage is just little more than 100 000 liter. With the medium small brew house, a maximum of 5000 liter per day can be brewed. Times are good and they are developing new beers. They have their own water which is coming from a dwell under the brewery and gives the beer a specific profile. All the malt and hops is imported from Europe but they can still offer good prices on the beer. Most of them are sold in the beer shops for under 4 USD the glass. They have also two “ghost brewers” that use their facilities to make their own beer. These brewers have their own labels and recipies but not the economy to run their own brewery but Sergey and Albert are welcoming and happy to let other brewers develop their beers.
Two years ago they had 14 beers and the facilities was smaller. The demand has really exploded and is on a steady rise. Like in many other countries, this will lead to a rich craft beer culture in a couple of years. Craft brewing company has a wide portfoolio but has always many Belgian styled beers which they like very much. Cherries are used a lot in both stouts and krieks. Honey is sourced locally and used in their honey ale and as an adjunct in beers. The most popular beers according to check ins at untappd is APA, IPA, Porter, Cherry Stout and Double IPA.
The brewery is about 12 kilometers from the city center, Tashkent is a big city even it it’s just below three million inhabitants, streets are wide and spacious. There is a metro system and taxis are cheap so it’s easy to move around the city. To reach Craft brewing company it takes 20 minutes with taxi from the city center and costs around 3 USD for the 12-14 km trip. It’s a popular venue and the feeling to drink beers that are brewed just in front of you is amazing.
Uzbekistan has so much to see, taste and enjoy, consider a visit during spring or summer time when the weather is great !