Kvass (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism
More than just a drink
The most traditional Russian beverage with a characteristic sour taste, Kvass is first mentioned in the 10th century. Far from being just a drink, its numerous uses ranging from a seasoning agent for meat before roasting, to a flavour for soups, and even a source of aroma steam in banyas or Russian saunas where it would be spilt on hot stone.
For centuries, kvass would be produced from malt or sprouted seeds that would be dried in a stove, watered and left to ferment producing a sour drink with a bread aroma. There are thousands of recipes.
Old bread kvass with malt by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism
Kvass may be made from rye, oats, buckwheat, wheat, a mixture of various cereals and malts, or fruits, including apples. It may be flavoured with fruits, too, or herbs. Many factors influence fermentation which explains weak (1-2%) alcohol content in some homemade drinks.
In the Soviet Union, kvass was mostly made from dried rye bread and later from specially manufactured malt concentrate that yielded increased sweetness and tinted it dark-brown leaving it unlike the traditional varieties popular before the 20th century. This is what Russians call kvass today enjoying a cold drink on a hot summer day in much the same way as their ancestors 300 years ago.
Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Photo production — tm agency, Contributors — Proximity Russia, Denis Yershov, Alexandra Grigoryeva