Visiting Uzbekistan’s First Craft Brewery

In a country of “filtered” and “unfiltered” beer, we now have one life-changing craft brewery in Uzbekistan.  As you can see, it’s in the middle of nowhere. It is just out of shot on the left of the photo. We drove thirty minutes south from the city center, passed a new mall complex, a Coca-Cola factory, a herd of goats, and onto a pothole ridden road. Using our limited Russian knowledge, we were able to tell the driver to keep going straight. He just looked at us and laughed, feeling confident we were going the wrong way. We stopped outside a walled complex - the place where the map on the back of a business card from a blurry photo on Facebook said the brewery was. The driver was pessimistic about our chances and quite rightly so. The road was a soaked dirt track, which led up to a ферма (farm). Maybe they get the milk for the Milk Stout from here? Using gesturing and saying “Прямо” (straight), we managed to drive a little further down the road. The meter kept ticking, so I am sure the driver wasn’t too bothered by the delay in our arrival. We eventually saw a building on the right with some signage, and we knew we had made it. If there’s one word I can read in Russian, it is definitely “пиво.”

We passed through the giant steel doors, and it was an oasis. There was a brand-new building housing the tap room and a comfortable outdoor seating area with a BBQ. We arrived in the middle of a talk by a Russian brewer from Malz and Hopfen. Although there was no English around, I made out that he was explaining to a small crowd of people how you can make beer at home using ordinary things you have around the house.  Although it looked like it had been used to make several giant batches of plov, an open fire pit and a large cauldron served perfectly. We were wondering whether any of it had been sanitized.

Visiting Uzbekistan’s First Craft Brewery

We were shown to our seats and given a tap list to look through. There must have been at least 20 beers available to choose from. There were several different IPAs, an Irish Red, a Honey Ale and something called Tomato Joe. This peaked my interest; surely it’s not a beer made from tomatoes!  Regardless, the list was better than anything I’ve seen in Tashkent. I decided to play it safe and have a Cascade IPA. I can’t go into much detail about the flavour as this was in June and had no idea I’d be writing about it in September, but I seem to remember it being reasonably good. We were impressed with our first two or three half pints. Then, we were offered some tasters, and there was a Tomato Joe. It came out of the tap in chunks, like someone was pressing it through a can of diced tomatoes, and it tasted like someone had spilled a ¼ cup of Newcastle Brown Ale into a Bloody Mary. If you ever make it here, a taster is more than enough of this one. 

Overall, we really enjoyed our visit to the brewery. It is a bit out of the way, so we haven’t yet made our way back there.  But - at $1 a pint, I am sure it won’t be long before we return! Next time, I can direct the taxi driver with a little more confidence.

I don’t have any beer related social media to share, but if you are interested in semi regular posts of things I see in Uzbekistan and on my travels, you can follow me on Instagram @sightsoftashkent.