With a stroke of the presidential pen, beer has been reclassified as an alcoholic drink instead of a foodstuff in Russia.
"Up to now, beer has not been considered alcohol in Russia but as a simple soft drink [that could be sold] anywhere and at any time," said parliamentary deputy Viktor Zvagelsky of the ruling United Russia party.
But starting January 2013, a new law signed by President Dmitry Medvedev will ban beer sales from 11pm to 8am except in bars and cafes.
The law will also prohibit selling beer in street kiosks and drinking in public places.
"Now beer will largely be regulated in the same way as spirits," Zvagelsky said.
Healthcare professionals have praised the crackdown.
"Young people are introduced (to alcohol) through beer and ... switch to strong alcoholic drinks," said Evgenia Koshkina of the National Centre for Addictions Research.
Alcohol abuse kills half a million Russians a year and lowers life expectancy, which stands at 60 for men, lower than in countries such as Bangladesh and Honduras, according to the World Health Organisation.
But Koshkina doubts the effectiveness of the new law, saying "people are not accustomed to respect laws".
Kirill Bolmatov, a manager at Russia's fifth-biggest brewery, SABMiller, criticised the decision to focus on beer instead of spirits.
"(Cheap) access to strong spirits contributes to (high) alcoholism. One litre of vodka costs about four euros ($5.50) in Russia, a very low price," he said.
The new law has struck fear into local brewers and foreign importers in Russia, the world's fourth-biggest beer market that has seen steady growth.
According to a recent survey, beer is the favourite drink of 39 per cent of Russians, while 32 per cent say they prefer vodka.
"In street kiosks, beer sales make up nearly half of profits," said Bolmatov.
The law would be a heavy blow to small businesses and jobs, he predicted, while it would have little effect on big brewers.
"They may not see growth, but at least they will maintain a stable volume of sales," he said.