At least, that’s what I thought when I read this article. (I’ll wait for the ‘old news’ people to chill.)
However after giving it a little thought, having anything under 10% be a foodstuff would’ve made a lot of sense at one point. Russia is cold, clean water was once (and in many places of the world still is) difficult to get. People need food to live and by example, London was built on the backs of porters, who often briefly stopped for a hearty (though modestly alcoholic) beverage so they could continue working. Not so long as to be lunch but long enough to be filled up.
How would Russia be any different? You’d actually need more calories to stay warm and alcohol in small amounts isn’t a bad thing for cold weather. Wouldn’t it be smarter, from a policy standpoint, to not consider most beers-even strong ones-to be alcoholic, but foodstuffs instead? Food is traditionally taxed at a significantly lower rate, so providing food at a reasonable cost seems to be something that politicians would want to do, to keep a peaceful society.
On top of that, there are cultural considerations. Long known for being a culture of serious drinkers, I could see where Russians as a people just wouldn’t consider even very strong ales, which I personally would say is anything over 7% ABV, to be alcoholic. I don’t know the culture well enough to say that definitively but I can say that it wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case.
Just something to chew on.