Krop-Pivo Shop / Кроп-Пиво Магазин
Tuesday 9th October 2018
One thing about travelling around Russia is that it never ceases to amaze. Here in Tikhoresk there was another serendipity moment. We were travelling around the country on a steam-hauled hotel train and were here because it is home to the most important of all the railway workshops in Russia that overhaul steam locomotives. As we left the train to travel by road to the works I noticed this shop and vowed to visit later.
The works was fascinating with long-derelict locomotives being restored to health to be used on special trains around the country. Please see photograph below of one of them undergoing restoration. The placard on the front is an artefact from the Soviet era and means “Victory”. As myself and Linda had arrived by car from the station we were able to leave a little earlier to investigate the subject of this article.
As can be seen from the photograph below the shop is small yet modern and our first impressions were very good indeed. It actually opened its doors for the first time on 7th March 2018. We could see that the whole space to the right of the shop’s counter was taken up by around fifteen draught beer taps, every one connected with a 1.5 litre plastic bottle waiting to be filled. There was also a huge range of beer snacks, nuts, crisps and many others. The rest is a standard mini-market selling the usual groceries and fresh foods you would associated with that kind of outlet.
This practise of selling draught beer to take away is very common in Russia. This is not the first time I’ve seen the arrangement in a grocery shop. However I’ve previously never seen so many different beers on offer or one actually directly owned by a brewery. The normal arrangement is that the beers are dispensed into 1.5 litre PET bottles through a special adaptor on the tap and it was the same here. The prices are extremely reasonable.
So what’s the story behind this shop? The strangely named Кроп-Пиво (Krop-Pivo, Krop Beer) actually refers to the Kropotkin Brewery (Кропоткинский Пивоваренный Завод).
It was founded in 1908 by German immigrants as the Ostbayern Brauerei (East Bavarian Brewery) in the nearby city of Kropotkin, hence the name. It must have had an element of private ownership throughout the Soviet Union era as it traded and continued to after the fall.
Nowadays, it is a very progressive concern and is known as the Southern Russian Private Brewery, but it wasn’t always so. After “Perestroika” the company was almost bankrupt. It was purchased by Mikhail Dmitrievich Khomenkov in 1995 and he started the process of revival. A massive enhancement program was commenced in 2014 as new water treatment equipment was installed. They have a 520 metre deep artesian well.
However, the most notable improvement came in 2016 when a brand new brewery was installed. This was produced by the Ziemann-Holvrieka company of Ludwigsburg, Germany. It is 21st Century equipment yet the actual brewing process is traditional. Their malt comes from Finland, Germany and the Czech Republic. Their hops come entirely from Germany. They distribute widely in the central belt of Russia as far north as St Petersburg. They own over 80 shops in the Kuban region, similar to the one we were in.
A large array of beers ranging from classic styles from the USSR years to modern ales are produced. They were all on sale as draught beers in the Tikhoresk shop. This is what we could have chosen from with light beers listed first: CCCP (USSR) (4.0%), replicating a beer recipe from Soviet times; Классическое (Klassicheskoye) (4.0%), also from the USSR days and Жигулёвское (Zhigulevshoe) (4.0%), yet another recipe revival from back then. These three types were brewed in nearly every brewery in the Soviet Union, supposedly from the same recipes in each one.
More modern is Немецкое (Nemeckoe) (4.5%), German-style Lager, Восточная Бавария (Vostochnaya Bavariya) (4.5%), a Bavarian-style beer and Уешское (Cheshskoe) (4.5%), a Czech Pilsner type of lager beer. Going back in time we found Шумерское (Sumerian) (4.5%), an attempt to create a beer from biblical days. More recent in inspiration is Кубанский Пивовар Злотое (Kubanskij Pivovar Zolotoe) (4.5%) which means Kuban Brewery Gold. We were in the Kuban region, hence the name.
Also we could have had Ирландсккий Зль (Irish Ale) (4.7%) or Дух Солода (Duch Soloda) (4.5%) which the brewery calls “Spirit of Malt” and is made to an old Czech recipe. Finally, there was Bock-Beer (5.4%), a classic German style. Next, the dark beers: Бархатное (Barchatnoe) (4.4%) which is Velvet and is a smooth malty beer that befits its name; Дух Хмеля (Duch Chmelaya) (4.4%), Spirit of Hops and Кроп Стаут (Krop Stout) (4.9%).
All of the draught beer is unpasteurized. However, brewery-filled 1.5 litre PET bottles and glass bottles are treated. Some of the beers are also unfiltered. At this shop the following could be bought on draught in this cloudy form: CCCP, Klassicheskoye, Sumerian and one that, of course, is nearly always unfiltered: Мшеничное (Pishenichnoe) (4.5%), wheat beer.
There were also two draught ciders: Cидp Яблчныйи (straight Apple Cider) (5.0%) and Вишнёвый (Cherry cider) (5.0%). They also had bottled cider made by Cidre Royal company from Ukraine. We had a choice of demi-sweet, demi-sec and honey (sweet), all 5.0% abv. We had a 0.75l bottle of the demi-sec for the train and enjoyed it especially because it had a reasonable flavour and wasn’t gassy.
The Cidre Royal company was founded by Herbert Hauswirth in 2000. It is based in the Cherkassy region of Ukraine because of the excellent apples grown there, so no concentrate involved. We also purchased two 1.5l PET bottles of CCCP and Bavariya beers and consumed them that evening and the next day. Please see the photograph (left) of them with the cider on the table in our sleeping car on the train.
I think you can tell that we liked this little shop very much, so look out for Кроп-Пиво outlets in the very unlikely event that you may be in this area of southern Russia.
Krop-Pivo Shop/Кроп-Пиво Магазин, October Street, 2/Ул. Октябрьская, Tikhoresk/Тихорецк
Directions from the railway station: Exit either through or by the side of the main station building.
The shop is to be found on the right of the square in front of the station.