Discovering Uzbekistan’s First Craft BreweryBy martin hay
September 04, 2019
I moved to Tashkent last August from Dhaka, Bangladesh. At first, I was just happy to be able to walk into a Vino Vodka store and by any local lager. No more out of date cans of Foster’s costing $50 for a crate of 24. No more hour drives to the one place foreigners could buy alcohol to take home. I could now buy Sarbast Lite, Sarbast Original and Sarbast Special any day I wanted for around 80 cents a bottle and it was only a 5 minute walk from my house.
However, after a few months, my limited supply of craft beer I brought from Scotland had run out and I was craving something more. Sometimes we would have access to a Russian craft brewery called Волковская Пивоварня (Wolf’s Brewery), but the IPA and Belgian Wit beer would sell out quickly. Then, one day at the end of November, I spotted a bottle of something called War Craft IPA. I picked it up to have a look and saw that it was made right here in Uzbekistan. The brewery is called Craft Brewing Company. Not the most imaginative name I know. Personally, I would have chose the name Brewsbekistan. If they read this, they can have that for free.
It was fine. Nothing special, but it was a local craft brewery, so I decided to champion them to all my colleagues at work who were interested in beer. We started to find more and more different styles. There was a Milk stout, a Biere de Garde and a Cherry Stout. These would probably be described as “drain pours” by members of the MBC, but they were my local brewery and I thought that if they kept making beers they would eventually perfect a recipe. The early IPA’s and fruit flavoured beers they released, tasted quite syrupy. The Milk Stout had a liquid burnt toast flavour and the less said about their Mojito Sweet Rice beer the better. It tasted like a Diet 7up which had been left open in the fridge for 2 weeks.
I decided to look into them further, but they had absolutely no online presence. I couldn’t even find the address printed on the bottles on Google Maps or Yandex Maps. I just assumed that this was a homebrew on a semi large scale to sell in a few alcohol shops in the city. They kept releasing new beers. In around February we saw a Double IPA, an APA, a Double Chocolate Stout and a beer named after Che Guevara for some reason. They were hit or miss, but the APA stood out as a favourite for me. I stopped buying Sarbast and this became my go-to beer. Then in May, something wonderful happened.
As I was looking through Facebook, I noticed a sponsored post from Craft Brewing Company. They finally had a Facebook page! I looked through it and saw they had an event that coming Saturday featuring a brewer from Malz & Hopfen in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. He was coming to do a talk about how you can brew from things you have around your home. It was all going to be in Russian, but I decided to go and smile and nod. My wife and two friends were also in. We were going to visit the brewery on Saturday. I didn’t have high expectations for it, considering one of the main pictures on the Facebook page was of the brewers drinking with their tops off in the brewery. My next blog post will talk about the trip there.
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.