MOSCOW, June 19 (Reuters) - Beer-guzzling soccer fans risk drinking bars and restaurants in the Russian capital dry, with some saying they are running low and having to wait longer than usual for fresh supplies.
Moscow has been transformed by the World Cup, with singing, chanting and beer swilling fans overwhelming some of the packed bars and restaurants around the Kremlin and Red Square.
“We just didn’t think they would only want beer,” said one waiter at a upscale eatery in central Moscow who asked not to be identified for fear of scaring off future customers.
The waiter said his restaurant ran out of draft lager on Monday and deliveries are taking longer than usual, at least 24 hours, because suppliers’ stocks are also running low.
“There are really a lot of people in Moscow ... and they are all drinking,” he said. “It’s hot, and it’s football.”
Beer sales in Russia have fallen by around a third over the past decade on the back of rising duties and tougher rules on sales and advertising, and brewers had not been expecting a major reversal of the trend this year.
Heineken, Baltika - the Russian unit of Carlsberg - and Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewer and the official FIFA sponsor for the World Cup, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Dmitry, a barman at trendy courtyard bar Gogol, said visiting soccer fans had drunk 800 litres of beer in three days, downing the cheap lager before the more expensive bottled beers.
Gogol was taking three deliveries on Tuesday to replenish supplies, he said, as workers busily unpacked boxes of beer, vodka and whiskey from a nearby van.
“The sun makes them thirsty,” he said of his customers. “In Russian we say ‘to the bottom!’ I like that these guys are embracing our culture.”
But fans such as Ivan, a Croatian who is in Russia to see his team take on Argentina on Thursday, said he had yet to encounter any beer shortages.
“There is beer everywhere,” he said, swigging from a can of Russian Zhiguli lager whilst sitting on a bench near the Bolshoi Theatre. “Some places yes, some places no. You just have to know where to find it!”
Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Alexander Smith