The only alcoholic beverage cooler than gin lately is the not-so-humble craft beer. Long gone are the days of beer being a ‘man’s drink’, and with the hype around microbreweries and locally sourced and made products, craft beer is a must have on every menu. One country nailing the beer trend is Kyrgyzstan, a sovereign state in Central Asia, where the number one beer is completely owned and operated by women.
Save the Ales is a brewery and taproom in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek, that was inspired by all of our favourite thing; travelling. Owners Aida Musulmankulova and Arzu Kurbanova got the idea to start brewing beer and open their own brewery after travelling the world and tasting many delicious craft beers across the globe. Upon returning home they realised there was nothing similar in their city and decided to give it a try, thus the first craft brewery in Kyrgyzstan, Save the Ales, was born.
Their brewery has gone from strength to strength since opening in 2016, and their loyal following is to thank for their highly rated reviews. Not too bad for a couple of beer enthusiasts who taught themselves over the internet, hey? Aida and Arzu told Eurasianet that they began by Googling recipes and branched out from there “We decided to brew it [ourselves]. We learned everything from the internet. It wasn’t as difficult as we thought.”
One of their most popular brews is a raspberry ale, which is quite fun for a country where beer is still traditionally drunk by men. Aida and Arzu only employ females in their brewery and taproom and see it as not only a way to bring craft beer to their country, but a way to empower women as well.
Shaking up stereotypes in a male dominated industry and country by bringing a fresh take to the beery boys club has gained them huge support from their community, but also raised a few eyebrows. However as one customer witnessed and recalled to Eurasianet, the eyebrows are swiftly brought back down to their usual place when they taste the beer. Sumsarbek Mamyraliev gave an example of an incident that happened just after the brewery opened: “I remember one time this guy walked into the pub. He said, ‘Get me a beer. Where is the shashlik [kabobs]? Where is the chechel [smoked cheese]? Where are the owners? How do your husbands let you brew beer? This will never work!‘” But after sampling the beer, the customer quickly changed his tune. “He said: ‘You girls have put all the men in Kyrgyzstan to shame. If you ever have any problems with anyone, just call me.‘”
Changing perceptions and drinking good beer sounds like a great mission to us, but Aida and Arzu aren’t stopping there. They’ve already had plenty of offers from people to buy Save the Ales, but they want to nurture it through its growth and they’re hoping to not only have their beer on tap in many local and national pubs, but go international and be added to the epic Beer Lovers World Tour! Ladies, you’re an inspiration to us all.