Apparently Russia has never considered beer to be alcoholic, due to their high standards of anything with less than 10% alcohol being simply considered a foodstuff. Now, though, with beer soaring past vodka as the Russian drink of choice, the Russian government has officially classified beer as an alcohol
so that they can start regulating it more to combat an apparent alcoholism problem in Russia. People say it is common to see the hoi polloi drinking beer around towns like soft drinks. As they live in Russia, I don't blame them!