My desire to tell travelers about Belarus has its roots in my previous professions. One of them was managing the first beer museum in Belarus for more than 2 years. Although I don’t work there anymore, I frequently visit my colleagues and recommend visiting the Alivaria Brewery Museum to all of my foreigner friends. I do think it’s one of the best experiences that you could get in Minsk, and it’s especially good as a great start of a night out.
In 1864, Rohlya Frumkinova from Minsk launched her own wooden brewery. Thirty years later, one of the most significant mayors of Minsk, count Jan Karol Chapski, bought the establishment and turned it into an external cold fermentation chamber for a 3-floor brick brewery that he constructed next to it. He equipped it with the most modern engines and brewing tanks and called it Bohemia. In 1899, Bohemia was bought by the Lekkert family, who were building a kind of a beer empire in Belarus. Unfortunately, their plans came to an end with revolution and nationalisation of the brewery in 1918.
Till the year 1991, the brewery was limited by USSR standards to brewing only 5 sorts of beer. After Tamara Dudko, privatised the brewery in 1994, she gave it its contemporary name “Alivaria”. Additionally, she obtained a new yeast, started experiments with the new sorts of beer, and upgraded the equipment. Alivaria started getting big in the Belarusian market and attracted strategical investment from the European Bank of Research and Development. Since 2011, it’s been officially a part of the Carlsberg Group. Plans to open a beer museum were discussed in the 90s already, but it was finally established only in 2012.
The tour itself takes about 2 hours and is divided into 3 logical parts: history, modern production, and tasting. The historical tour explains the peculiarities of building the beer business in the XIX century. The exhibit consists of old brewing equipment replicas, historical documents, and beer advertisements from the USSR times. After telling the history, the guide will use an electronic scheme to give you a basic knowledge of a modern beer brewing process. Then you will see the malt milling department, followed by the hot brewing area. After that, you will return to the museum, where one of the guides will lead you thoroughly through the beer tasting procedure. There will be two sorts of beer to try.
Take some warm clothes if it’s cold outside. At the beginning of the tour, you will leave the museum building, and go out for a couple of minutes. The temperature during the historical part of the tour is usually slightly higher than the outside. Also, as the tour includes radio-guide to hear the guide's voice even in loud departments, the participants are provided with earphones. If you prefer using your own, please bring them with you. If you can’t drink alcohol on the day of the tour, you need to warn the staff about that before the tour starts, so that they can offer you a non-alcoholic beverage for the tasting part. It's not possible to buy beers at the museum, but they are selling a wide variety of different merchandise for you to remember the visit. Beer coasters are given out for free.
There is a schedule with the tour availability at the museum's web page. To sign up, for a tour, you would need to be over 18 years old, sober, and not sick with any catchy illness. Due to the low percentage of English speaking tourists in Belarus, the Alivaria Museum offers tours conducted in English only for groups of more than 10 people. Even if you sign up for a tour on your preferred date, the possibility that there would be another group of English speakers to join is pretty low. Therefore, the museum offers print-outs in English and a couple of other languages with the whole content of the excursion, so you can read the information that the guide is presenting. The tour costs 15 BYN (7-8 USD/EUR) per person. If you like the tour, it's normal to leave tips to the guides.
Getting to Alivaria Museum is relatively simple, it's a 10 minutes walk from Nemiga metro station via Bogdanovicha Street, or 10 minutes walk from Ploshad Pobedy metro station. I would recommend not to come a lot more than 10 minutes before the beginning of the tour, as the doors might be locked. Set your tour for Friday or Saturday evening and turn your visit to the Alivaria Brewery Museum into a great start of a night out.
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