The Russian market remains one of the greatest untapped markets for American craft beer. To date, there are no major initiatives to import and distribute American craft beers in Russia despite Russia's rapidly growing economy and taste for high quality alcoholic drinks.
Before the global recession, Russia experienced a growth rate of approximately 7-8% annually. Although the recession has slowed the economy down, many experts project a growth rate between 3.3% and 6.2% for 2010. Russia's elite and upper middle class are passionate about Western luxury products from cars to clothing and beer is no exception.
Like vodka, beer is a strong facet of Russian culture. In 2009, Russia consumed over 2.7 billion gallons (10.3 billion liters) of beer. Russia's beer culture is strongest in St. Petersburg, which holds a beer festival every summer and is home to Russia's most recognized beer brand, Baltika. In terms of value, Russia's beer market increased by 11% in 2009 despite a decline in terms of volume. This paradox reflects Russia's rising affluence, increasing palate sophistication, and movement away from standard and economy offerings towards more premium-end products.