(Craft) Beer in Uzbekistan Guide—Tashkent, Mostly

Nobody travels to Uzbekistan for the beer. But perhaps after this post, you at least know what to do when you find yourself in Tashkent or beyond craving that divine tingly liquid. My focus lied on craft beer from the liquor stores of Tashkent and Samarkand, the live beer places, but I’m also covering the industrial national lagers.

Contents

Microbrewery Craft Beer in Uzbekistan, Ranked

#1 Briz, Wheat Beer (4.5% alc. – 0.5L – UZS: 11.000) Craft Brewing Company

briz wheat beer tashkent craft beer in uzbekistan

We are 100% biased for wheat beer, and Uzbekistan is no exception. Briz is a deliciously refreshing and cloudy beer that’s perfect after a hot day, which is every day in Uzbekistan if you travel there in July. If you’re in Uzbekistan and can only drink one beer for the rest of your life, choose this one. It contains only water, malt, hops, and yeast, so it’s

On the company: Craft Brewing Company really is a microbrewery on the outskirts of Tashkent. You can visit it and eat there. We didn’t try this because with the COVID-19 restrictions we were afraid we wouldn’t be let into town. You can contact them on Facebook to ask if they’re open if you want to visit.

#2 СССР, Red Stout (6.0% alc. – 0.5L – UZS: 12.000) Craft Brewing Company

CCCP sssr red stout craft revolution craft beer in uzbekistan tashkent 2

The gimmicky label saying “craft revolution” made our expectations pretty low, but this one’s a real winner! The strong smell was a little off-putting at first, but the flavor itself is super mellow and delicious. Stouts are usually only for when we’re feeling like trying something new and we have a backup (i.e. wheat beer), but this one was very enjoyable by itself. Definitely something worth repeating!

#3 Honey, Honey Beer (5.0% alc. – 0.5L – UZS 14.000) Craft Brewing Company

honey ale craft beer tashkent uzbekistan

Usually, I find honey beers a one-time experience, but this one I consider worthy of repetition. You can still taste the beer through the honey, which I guess is what people call ‘balanced’. I couldn’t find out if they brewed it with Uzbek honey – which is delicious – but my spidey sense says it’s made with Kyrgyz honey because it’s cheaper. The boggle design is also very nice and yes, it’s another winner by the CBC.

#4 Жигули Копейка, Unfiltered (4.0% alc. – 0.5L – UZS 14.000) Craft Brewing Company

zhiguly kopeyka unfiltedered craft brew company beer

Named after my third favorite Soviet vehicle, this beer is a resounding “Yes, that’s delicious” on the first sip. Hoppy and yeasty, I wouldn’t change a thing about this beer. Also, the label design is a pleasure.

And this is also where I will stop my ranking. The other beers in this section were all tasty but nothing to go to war over.

APA, American Pale Ale (6.0% alc. – 0.5L – UZS 15.000) Craft Brewing Company

american pale ale craft beer in tashkent uzbekistan

Learn Russian with this bottle and repeat after me: американский бледный эль! It’s pretty good. Conforms to the governmental standard (соответствует госстандарту). It doesn’t tingle my tongue as much as the wheat beer, but it’s nice to switch every now and then.

Che Guevara, Strong-Ass Beer (9.5% alc. – 0.33L – UZS 14.000) Craft Brewing Company

che guevara craft brew company

This is when I realized it’s 2021 and why do none of the bottles have a website to visit? I digress…

This beer hits like a train. I mostly got it because of the high alcohol content and because it has that picture of señor Che on it along with the text “craft revolution”. If there’s a similar beer with Lenin or Trotsky on the label, please tell me the details in this comment section. The beer itself smells like slightly burnt caramel and tastes like you might do something you will never come back from (bitter and sweet). On Untappd I learned that this beer is categorized as a “Belgian Strong Golden Ale” but that doesn’t look like anything to me.

Drink this beer by yourself if you want to go to sleep or share one bottle with someone you like if you want to get laid.

Чешское Злато Мягкое, Lager (4.5% alc. – 0.5L – UZS 8.000) Raupxon

czech beer uzbekistan tashkent

It’s a lager. Presumably, it’s been made with Czech technology, whatever that means. It went flat pretty quickly but the bottle is a bit of fun. It says on the bottle “Since 2000” and it says the company name Raupxon in VERY TINY letters. Goes with anything and will be remembered for nothing. I couldn’t find anything reliable on the company. According to Untappd, it’s a microbrewery, though the look and feel of it are more industrial.

2000 – The company was renamed MChJ “Raupxon”. The enterprise is equipped with modern technological equipment, the production capacity is 1.5 million decaliters. beer. In addition to the Tashkent region, the priority sales markets are Bukhara and the region, Khorezm region, Kashkadarya region. The brewery occupies 8% of the country’s market.

Double IPA (8.0% alc. – 0.5L – UZS 18.000) Craft Brewing Company

double ipa craft beer tashkent uzbekistan

Drinking double India pale ales always sounds like a good idea till you take the first sip and you wonder out loud “Is this delicious or disgusting? I honestly can’t tell.” The CBC version of this was no different. It’s quite strong, sweet, and probably my least favorite from the craft section. It got better when I ate some olives and cheese with it. One reason for that as well is that I underestimated the foaminess, fucked up the pour, and had to slurp a lot of foam to stave off disaster, which isn’t the best way to introduce yourself to someone. The DIPA doesn’t belong in hell, but I’m also not buying it again.

ETA: I read the bottle. Perhaps it tasted a little funky because it’s live beer (see below), non-pasteurized and non-filtered, and “in a stage of ripening”. The bottle also says “not for store sales” because presumably, it goes bad rather quickly. Oh well, keep the immune system guessing!

Draft Beer Shops (Живое Пиво): The Best Thing Ever

BeerLoga zhivoye piva tashkent uzbekistan draught and craft

Perhaps you’re walking through a part of town heavy on foot traffic and come across a shop that says живое пиво – live beer. No, it’s not a place to drink a beer in person; it’s a place that sells unpasteurized beer. In my non-scientific explanation, IT’S ALIVE and hasn’t been brutally murdered by the pasteurization process.

But because its shelf-life hasn’t been increased by things like pasteurization and filtration, it has to be drunk within five days of purchase. Therefore, it will also never come from far, far away. It’s true local beer.

The first time I came across a place that sold this was in Kyrgyzstan, but I only successfully bought it for the first time right here in Tashkent at a place called BeerLoga. Assuming these types of businesses are solely a thing in former Soviet countries, I’m extra fascinated.

live beer beerloga tashkent craft beer in uzbekistan microbrewery 1

You go to a shop. This can be in the city or a stall at the market. There are many removable taps installed on a wall. You either ask for a price list with beers and their names or see the prices underneath each tap. These businesses are usually run by (Russian) women, which makes it an even better experience because it’s craft beer without the demeaning douchebags who are like “Oh, so you like beer? Name their last five albums.”

Our experiences at BeerLoga

Here in Tashkent at BeerLoga, I asked if they had wheat beer (пшеничное пиво), but they hadn’t. The next best thing is unfiltered, but the first thing that caught my eye on the menu was гранатовое пиво—pomegranate beer, unfiltered. For only UZS 13.000 per liter, this seemed like a great investment. The lady asked me if I only wanted one, which felt like a trick question, so we also got a liter bottle of the BeerLoga house beer for another UZS 15.000. In total that’s €2.22 or US$2.63 with today’s exchange rate.

She began tapping it while her colleague worked off a very huge order. The place was rather busy. But yes, you can only go there to buy fresh beer and then take it home or wherever. The tapping process itself is very fascinating because – hidden away – they have some sort of gas system that pumps the beer from the keg, defying gravity or something. It’s different from what they use in the Netherlands as far as I can remember tapping beer during my student time.

live beer beerloga tashkent craft beer in uzbekistan microbrewery 2

Anyway, you can see the virginal plastic bottle get filled with glorious red, golden, or brown liquid under high-ass pressure. Once it’s done, the lady operates some kind of crude tool to add a fresh bottle cap to the bottle. The process is kind of artisanal or rustic… but also introduces single-use plastic at the same time. I felt very ambivalent till I remembered I’m not having kids so it’s okay.

They wrote a Г for гранатовое and a Б for BeerLoga on the bottles because both of the beers were somehow red.

live beer in tashkent uzbekistan pomegranate house beer

Live beer in Uzbekistan: the verdict

After struggling to open the bottle because it was bulging and under such high pressure, we drank the pomegranate one the first night. It was so delicious and refreshing, truly divine. Pomegranate is the perfect fruit for something kriek-like because it’s not too sweet, mostly sour. It was a beautiful cloudy beer perfect for July in Uzbekistan.

pomegranate craft beer in uzbekistan live beer tashkent

The next day, we had a bad evening with the metro station closing on us at 19:00 for unknown reasons. We decided to take a taxi to BeerLoga, which was within walking distance of our Tashkent home. We picked up a third bottle called гараж (garage) only after confirming it was желтое и нефилтрованое пиво (yellow and unfiltered beer) with the intent to save it till tomorrow.

That terrible evening, we watched Chernobyl 1986 halfway on Netflix with the BeerLoga house beer, which is also red and cloudy like the pomegranate one. This one was also quite good but the color was really deceptive because it looks like candy but it had a normal delicious beer taste. Very lively.

BeerLoga zhivoye piva house brew

The night after that, we finally went to town on the garage beer. Yeasty, hoppy, but also super fresh, I think this is the one we’d buy most often if we had to live in Tashkent forever.

beerloga garazh unfiltered draft

Industrial Beer in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan also has its fair share of industrial breweries that produce en masse. This beer has a long shelf life and mostly tastes all the same. You can often buy these beers in bottles or cans at the liquor stores or even in restaurants

Unfiltered (4.7% alc. – 0.45L – UZS 5.000) Sarbast

sarbast non-filtered beer uzbekistan

If you’re in a restaurant and they have Sarbast beer on the menu, ask for the unfiltered (нефильтрованное) version. This is a satisfying beer they often have on tap and it tastes very decent and is nice and cloudy. It is your best start if you don’t speak a lot of Russian. You can also buy it in cans in liquor stores. The can even tells you that you should pour two-thirds of the beer in a glass, then swirl the bottle, then finish pouring. And they enjoy telling you that Sarbast collaborated with the Technical University of Munich on this. Really not bad. Also, it’s “Since 2007” which is an old brewery for Uzbek standards.

Special Double Hop (5.0% alc. – 0.45L – UZS 7.500) Sarbast

sarbast special double hops beer uzbekistan

Honestly, also not bad! This filtered one has also some interesting flavors. Again it touts the same collaboration as before. Very affordable and quite delicious.

Marhur, Red Lager (4.4% alc. – 0.33L – UZS: 7.500) ToshkentVino/Zomin Brewery

marhur red lager beer in uzbekistan

Delicious but gone too soon, this filtered beer with a nice color is great if you only want a small beer for yourself or want to try something new. Not crafty since Zomin Brewery appears to be the startup Heineken of Uzbekistan (“Since 2018”) and ToshkentVino is the booze-only Unilever (“Since 1867”) of Uzbekistan with a truly boring website.

1867 Крепкое Пиво, Lager (8.0% alc. – 0.5L – UZS 9.000) ToshkentVino/Zomin Brewery

1867 krepkoye piva toshkentvino kombinati beer in uzbekistan

Krepkoye pivo just means strong beer, which it is. It’s also more interesting than expected. You can taste the sweet alcohol a little through the beer flavors. The strength kind of sneaks up on you rather than hits you in the face.

3 Крепкое Пиво, Lager (5.4% alc. – 0.5L – UZS 10.000) Zomin Brewery

krepkoye piva tashkent craft beer uzbekistan

When I opened it the edge of the bottle was chipped, which I assumed happened before bottling already. I poured the beer, it went flat instantaneously. But okay, it was quite alright. Until I had something in my mouth and it was a piece of glass. Yikes. I fished it out of my mouth, accidentally stabbed my finger with the sliver of glass, and tossed the rest of the beer. I’m not sure if the flimsy glass was their fault, but I won’t buy this beer again. Also, it wasn’t that strong.

Businesses with their own Beers

Hammersmith Bar

hammersmith pub tashkent craft beer in uzbekistan 1 hammersmith pub tashkent craft beer in uzbekistan 2

Hammersmith Bar has its own craft beer menu. We spent a good few hours here drinking the available beers from the menu and watching the Netherlands lose against Czechia. This included the Viking (dark lager), Golden Field (light lager, filtered), Amber (amber beer), and Country Haze (unfiltered, the best 🏆). We had already eaten, but their menu mostly seems focused on heaps of meat. They also have shisha. All around a cool place. Click here to see the location.

Beerkovich

Beerkovich zhivoye piva and craft tashkent uzbekistan

Though they have a place inside to drink, we only went here after eating at the Indian restaurant next door to bring some new bottles home. Beerkovich has several locations across Tashkent and some might even sell live beer. They have lots of bottled craft beer and also sell all kinds of snackies, from the delicious to the dank. With the weird opening times in Tashkent, prepare both to drink inside or take your bottles homeward. The business we went to is located here.

FAQ

Wait, BEER in UZBEKISTAN? I thought Uzbekistan is Muslim, is alcohol legal?

I see the suffix ‘-stan’ got you thinking. But yes, buying and drinking alcohol is legal in Uzbekistan. The only Stans with an alcohol prohibition are Afghanistan and Pakistan only for Muslims. In Uzbekistan and most of its neighbors, drinking alcohol is okay as long as you behave. Although it must be noted, people under the age of 20 are prohibited from buying alcohol (and tobacco) in Uzbekistan. I doubt they’ll ask for ID, but if you’re 18 years old and want to backpack and party in Central Asia, perhaps postpone it, and in the meantime party hard in Central America or Eastern Europe.

Where in Uzbekistan can I buy craft beer and other alcoholic drinks?

Since Google Maps isn’t widely in use, your best help is your eyeballs. Keep your eyes peeled for shops that say “АЛКОГОЛЬ” or “ВИНО – ВОДКА” on the exterior. These shops are widespread enough that once you know how to recognize them, you can spot them everywhere. If you have mobile data in Uzbekistan, you can even help other people by adding these businesses to Google Maps!

Will people frown at me if I drink alcohol?

Eh, maybe. In our experience traveling in Uzbekistan, servers in restaurants have been very reluctant to actually give us the beer we ordered. One time we received a knife, then a fork, before they gave us the piva we asked for (which was a local Sarbast).

All the internet resources we read on alcohol in Uzbekistan couldn’t agree on things. Wikipedia said that alcohol is less popular than in the west (low bar), but that Uzbek wines are rather popular. One poorly-written article said Uzbekistan “Has kept hold of many its Soviet habits, including a love of alcohol.” And another source said, “Alcohol is part of daily life for many people in Uzbekistan — particularly Russians.” Yikes that’s a big generalization.

If you’ve been to Turkey, it’s pretty similar to that although slightly less prevalent. It’s a secular country and though many people are Muslim, there are also Muslims that choose to still drink alcohol. Similar to Turkey, drinking here as a woman receives more frowny business than doing it as a man. Just ignore it and enjoy your drink if it ever arrives.

What about drinking alcohol in an Uzbek restaurant/bar?

Any restaurant that says “Halal – حلال‎” on the exterior doesn’t have or serve alcohol. Don’t be a dick and don’t ask them if they have beer.

That said, the number of businesses that mention beer on their menu > the number of businesses that actually have beer. There was this one place nearby our metro station that had a big sign outside that said they had beer from tap (пиво из разлива). It’s the same place that gave me redundant cutlery before they gave me beer.

However, you will often find local people drinking a beer with lunch or dinner as well. So just keep asking for it or bypass the uncooperative servers and go straight to the barman to ask for it.

Pro-tip: on menus, you’ll often see mojito (мохито) advertised. If they’re really cheap and not marked as cocktails (коктейли) they are unfortunately just lemonades. Still refreshing, but not what you hoped.

Should I buy imported beer in Uzbekistan in a restaurant/bar?

NOOOO! The price for a Hoegaarden is really easily 6 times as much as a local Sarbast. One menu said the Hoegaarden is UZS 70.000 and the local beer draught beer – which they didn’t have, that’s the other problem – cost only UZS 12.000. Reduce your beer footprint and drink local.

If you’re not satisfied with this answer, the foreign beers you’ll find in Uzbekistan are often: Heineken, Tuborg, Hoegaarden, Efes, Baltika, and the like.

Lastly, how do you say “cheers” or “to health” in Uzbek?

I didn’t hang out with any Uzbekistanis drinking because of covid, but I found out that “Oldik!” is cheers (click here to listen) and “Sog’liq uchun!” means to good health or something (click here to listen). Happy drinking 🙂

Good post? Consider buying me a zhivoye piva

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Though a Muslim-majority country that prefers to produce wine, Uzbekistan also has a bunch of microbreweries that produce delicious and refreshing craft beer for the hot summers in Tashkent and beyond. Here's how you find the super fresh "live beer" when traveling to Uzbekistan Though a Muslim-majority country that prefers to produce wine, Uzbekistan also has a bunch of microbreweries that produce delicious and refreshing craft beer for the hot summers in Tashkent and beyond. Here's how you find the super fresh "live beer" when traveling to Uzbekistan

Though a Muslim-majority country that prefers to produce wine, Uzbekistan also has a bunch of microbreweries that produce delicious and refreshing craft beer for the hot summers in Tashkent and beyond. Here's how you find the super fresh "live beer" when traveling to Uzbekistan Though a Muslim-majority country that prefers to produce wine, Uzbekistan also has a bunch of microbreweries that produce delicious and refreshing craft beer for the hot summers in Tashkent and beyond. Here's how you find the super fresh "live beer" when traveling to Uzbekistan

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2 thoughts on “(Craft) Beer in Uzbekistan Guide—Tashkent, Mostly

  1. These are all over Bishkek! Let me know if you make it back through, we can do a walking tour! 🙂

    • I’d love that! I’ve seen a few of them in Bishkek and Cholpon-Ata but every time we just went for the comfortable and widely available Urban 312 instead of the unknown… Next time I’m in Bishkek I’m sure I’ll make up for all the missed zhivoye piva!

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