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This Brew’s For You

Lee Reaney
15 June 2018

Looking for something new to do this summer? Something cool and refreshing? Something out-of-the-ordinary and – dare I say, European? Check out Sun InBev’s Desna brewery tour in Chernihiv.
As one of Ukraine’s leading breweries, Sun InBev is responsible for brewing brands like Stella Artois, Staropramen, Budweiser, Beck’s, and Chernihivske – named after the city it’s brewed in. This last beer is one of Ukraine’s most popular, rebranded from its familiar blue, red, and gold label to a sleek new design that focuses on the Ukrainian letter ‘ch’ (ч) in part to celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. You can celebrate too, by learning about how their beer is brewed on an English-language tour. Located just two hours northeast of Kyiv and costing as little as 30 UAH, it’s a great option for anyone looking to get away for the weekend.

Getting There
Located 140 km northeast of Kyiv along the mostly-divided M01 highway, driving or taking a bus is the simplest option to reach Chernihiv, with busses leaving from the – aptly named – Chernihivske or Lisova metro stations. Of course, for those looking to start their beer experience a little early, you can always catch the three-hour train or much-longer electrichka (local train) from the central train station. Perhaps the easiest way is to book a tour through a company. Full day tours, which include some sightseeing in Chernihiv, start at 400 UAH per person and feature transportation, admission fees, and a guide. For the more independent, admission to the brewery tour, including the beer-tasting workshop, starts at 30 UAH – but you’ll need to register in advance. Be sure to dress appropriately: no rings, bracelets, earrings, chains, watches, or high heels.

What to Expect
The Desna factory dates to 1976, when it was built according to Czech technology. The brewery started working two years later, serving Soviet beers like Zhyhulivske, Moscovske, and Ryzske to the Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kyiv markets. While waiting for the tour to begin, you can take a walk back through 30 years of company history in a small museum. You’ll then be taken in for a short video about the brewery and company. Both the video and presentation are in English. Then the tour kicks off.
This is the real ‘nuts and bolts’ of the excursion, or as it turns out, the ‘hops and malt’. You’ll learn the difference between wort and mash, view inside the vats as the mash is turned into congestion, and even sample the hops. Impress your friends by telling them about the processes of fermentation and filtering. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a quick look at the bottling plant, where you can see the beer bottled in kegs, glass and plastic bottles, or aluminum cans.  The tour ends with a beer tasting workshop, where you’ll discover how the different brands are brewed while enjoying a taste of each of the beers produced on site.

What Else to See
The whole tour takes less than three hours – including the tasting – leaving you plenty of time to explore one of Ukraine’s most historic cities. Known as the ‘City of Legends’, Chernihiv has a historic mix of ancient churches, medieval fortifications, and open-air parks that draw tourists from across Ukraine. Most visitors like to stop at the Anthony Caves, where your guide will assure you that ghosts of long-since passed monks greet you as you go through the underground Church of Theodosius of Totma. The ramparts near the Shevchenko monument in Dytenets (Citadel) offer excellent views of the Desna River and Boldyni Hills, and there are plenty of ancient cathedrals nearby. The musical fountain at Popudrenko Square is also a popular hangout. For those looking to continue the beer tour check out the Bierwelle mini-brewery for craft beers or get ‘thrown in jail’ at the prison-themed Gentlemen of Luck Chebureky Café. Of course, you can always find a sunny terrace and have yourself a Chernihivske in Chernihiv.

Heading somewhere else in Ukraine? Tour Sun InBev’s Rogan brewery in Kharkiv or its Yantar brewery in Mykolaiv. Register for all three tours at suninbev.com.ua/breweries.

Thirsty much? Each vat of wort can contain 60 tonnes of congestion. The Desna brewery in Chernihiv can produce up to 1.45 million litres of beer – each day!

Looking for an extra-special reason to visit one of Ukraine’s most important medieval cities? Try visiting the city on 21 September, when Chernihiv celebrates its ‘City Day’. For more information visit chernihivtravel.com/en/

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