The Real Reason Russian Brewers Are Facing A Shortage

Russians who are peeved about the shuttering of various restaurants and businesses like McDonald's and Starbucks are likely to be even more annoyed when local beer brewers can't churn out product in the coming months. All of this, of course, is due to Russia's unrelenting invasion of Ukraine. But while many banks and restaurants are exiting stage left in a show of solidarity for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his people, the beer situation is the result of ongoing sanctions designed to cripple the Russian economy and otherwise make people mad enough to throw in the invasion towel.

The problem brewers are facing has to do with the import of hops, an all-important beer flavoring ingredient. Russian beer producers currently have enough stock of hops to last them for an estimated few months, says Food & Wine. Once that supply is used up, however, they're in a bit of a pickle. This is because, per Reuters, 98% of hops used by Russian brewers come mostly from Germany, the United States, and the Czech Republic. As you can imagine, none of these countries are inclined to help Russia avoid a beer shortage as long as troops are still bombing and pillaging Ukraine.

Other problems facing Russian beer drinkers

The impending lack of hops isn't the only issue Russian beer-lovers may run into. Brewing juggernauts like Heineken and Carlsberg have announced plans to pull their business from the beleaguered country, Reuters reports. This is a huge undertaking, so it certainly won't happen overnight, but Carlsberg did tell Reuters that "upon completion we will have no presence in Russia."

These announcements come despite the fact that pulling out of Russia will be detrimental to the businesses' bottom lines. In fact, Heineken, the third-largest brewer in the country, will lose $438 million when it gets rid of its Russian load, says Fortune. Carlsberg, the largest supplier in Russia, quickly followed Heineken's lead, saying that it "is the right thing to do in the current environment." The team at Carlsberg also notes that they "strongly condemn" the needless invasion, deaths, and other instances of "human tragedy" in Ukraine.

While the conflict rages, Russian brewers have appealed to the government to fund the local production of hops, a cost that's estimated to be about 500 million roubles ($6.4 million), per Reuters. However, that may not be quick or easy, so Russians are likely to feel a beer-related pinch sometime soon.