Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Kvass-conditioned beer?

Kvass. The Russian cola I am told. And it’s a superb soft drink. Rye dough, slight hint of honey on the nose, refreshing, honeyed, pleasing sweetness and firm breadiness on the palate, quick finish. Refreshing as anything, once you get used to it. Much better than coke or Shandy, doesn’t have that mouth rattling sweetness of stomach poking gassiness. Is it a beer? Not in the way one thinks of beer, but it’s the juice of fermented grain, so you might say it’s the person next door who shares a taste in music but doesn’t play it so loud. The Kvass I drunk was made by a brewery, Ochakovsky, and I had it in a café in GUM, the massive mall on Red Square in Moscow (Lenin looks like a mannequin lying there in his tomb). The brewery says that their Kvass is ‘made by a unique technology of two-level fermentation… special ferment from pure culture of kvass yeast and lactic bacteria.’ No hops of course but honey or herbs are often added and connoisseurs of Kvass eschew brands like the one I had and search for the homemade stuff, one of which I was told was made in some monastery in Moscow and was the very best. It shares a similar malt character to beer and chestnut brown in the glass (with a reddish blossom) it certainly has the look of a beer. It’s low in alcohol (I couldn’t find any information on the bottle), which is why kids and adults both drink it. Not a bad lunchtime drink and possibly a good way of introducing young palates to the complexities of beer. Kvass with hops? Now you’re talking…


  1. There was an excellent article about kvass in Brew Your Own magazine last year. The guy that wrote it was part of the tmave brewing session I did with Devils Backbone and brought some of his homemade stuff with him - seriously delicious! One of my half crazy ideas is to make bread with Guinness and then turn that in kvass.

  2. I *love* kvass. I've read it's generally in the 2-3% ABV range.

  3. Velky — now that might be brilliant or…
    BN — had a look at the label, couldn’t see anything, got a normal Russian lager at moment as I wait for my flight, need something a bit stronger than Kvass…