Don’t laugh yet, but Tajiks are suddenly the envy of beer drinkers across the United Kingdom.
Tajikistan serves the cheapest lager anywhere, London’s Daily Mail has reported. In the northern town of Khujand, a pint costs a “mouthwatering” 29 pence (about $0.45). In the capital, Dushanbe, it’s only a few cents more. Beer lovers in Tajikistan pay even less than their counterparts in Burundi and North Korea, says the paper.
The data come from pintprice.com, a crowdsourcing project where users around the world share their local beer prices. The site describes its statistics as “an important economic indicator.”
EurasiaNet.org can confirm that half a liter (just a tad more than a pint) of Dushanbinskoye sourced directly from the Pivzavod (brewery) in the center of the capital does cost only $0.40 as reported. And if you’re reading this in Greenland (the most expensive place to have a pint at $11.50) or the UK ($4.54), cover those tearful eyes: One regular visitor to the Pivzavod has the nerve to complain that the price has doubled over the past two years. (Costlier imports are still cheaper than British brews, with a 50cl bottle of Russian beer at a Dushanbe café setting you back approximately $2.10 and at the fanciest joints about $3.75. Wholesale, at the train station, that bottle is about $1.)
Having never had the privilege of sampling Tajik suds, “beer pilgrim” Stewart Hoehnke, a father of two from Edinburgh, says he’s planning a trip to Tajikistan to try the country’s cheap brew. “I've travelled all over the world and every time I get back to the UK and go to the pub I end up crying into my beer at the price,” The Daily Mail quotes Hoehnke as saying. “It is very rare on my travels that I pay more than £1 for a pint, but I've never been to Tajikistan -- that's next on my list now I've found out it's just 29p-a-pint.”
A word of caution, Mr. Hoehnke, before you book yourself on the next Somon Air flight to Dushanbe: Not only is it difficult to find a cold beer on a hot summer day in Tajikistan, but local brews rated by pintprice.com tend to be flat and sugary, a little more reminiscent of watery apple juice than a traditional European lager. Ubiquitous Baltika, imported from Russia, keeps its bubbles but is nearly as sweet.
Of course, everything’s relative. So Tajik friends: Next time you find yourself cursing a flat nol’ pyat’ (0.5L) at your favorite watering hole, remember that you’re the envy of the world, or at least of some poor sod in Edinburgh.