Tourism

Thirsty World Cup fans are drinking all of Russia and the UK’s beer

Laine Fullerton

Just two weeks in, the World Cup has caused a shortage of everyone’s beloved fermented yeast-based beverage in both the UK and Russia.

We have also been sinking a few and staying up to watch the games, so much that our colleagues have completely adapted to our under-eye bags and perpetual hangover.

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Since beer and soccer is essentially a symbiotic relationship, it is no wonder that the biggest tournament for the sport has triggered this shortage.

And while this has hit both host country Russia, and Britain, the causes of the shortage slightly differ.

In Britain, a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2) has hit the country’s biggest brewers and soft drink makers, significantly disrupting production.

Combine that with the current heatwave in Britain, and the fact that England is performing surprisingly well in the competition.

C02 is needed to make beer bubbly, and with an increased demand from brewers before the World Cup began, the already lower-than-average production of ammonia (which is used to produce CO2), and additional mechanical problems, this was simply a problem waiting to erupt.

In Britain, CO2 must be prioritised for use in hospitals and fire-extinguishers, so while brewers and soft drink makers attempted to prepare for the World Cup, they hadn’t anticipated a heatwave on top of the existing problems.

As per the ABC, the British Beer and Pub Association said last week the shortage might last for the next few weeks, and the British Soft Drinks Association said the shortage was impacting a wide range of businesses across the food and drink sector.

As wholesalers, distributors, and retailers have scrambled to work through existing stock, the shock shortage won’t really hit until the coming days.

In order to spread out the limited stocks, one major UK wholesaler is limiting customers like bars and grocers to 10 cases of beer per brand per day.

Popular beer Heineken is anticipated to be the most affected.

On the other hand, host country Russia is starting to realise they had underprepared to meet the beverage needs of soccer fans.

According to Lonely Planet, some bars in Moscow have reported that they are running out of beer and supplies aren’t able to keep up with the demand.

And it’s not just Moscow under the pump.

The city of Nizhny Novgorod who hosted last Monday’s game between Sweden and South Korea, which ended in Sweden’s first World Cup win in twelve years, saw excited fans drinking most establishments dry before kick off, according to a member of the Swedish Football Association.

The hot and dry weather in Russia has similarly seen locals and tourists reach for beer over the more traditional vodka.

According to Reuters, one waiter said deliveries are taking longer than usual, at least 24 hours due to suppliers stock running low.

“We just didn’t think they would only want beer,” he said.

“There are really a lot of people in Moscow and they are all drinking.”

“It’s hot, and it’s football,” he added.

Beer sales in Russia have fallen over the past decade due to tightened rules on sales and advertising, and brewers had not been expecting a major reversal of this trend.

A barman at Gogol in Moscow, Dmitry, told Reuters that visiting soccer fans had drunk 800 litres of beer in three days and were opting for cheaper lagers over more premium and expensive beers.

“The sun makes them thirsty,” he said.

“In Russian we say ‘to the bottom!’ I like that these guys are embracing our culture.”

Many beer brands have reported a spike in sales, and suppliers will continue to scramble for stock in order to meet the upsurge in demand before the competition concludes on 15 July.

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