The Fermented Soda you've NEVER heard of - KVASS

Bartenders are always searching for the next cool new ingredient or the next unheard of technique. One of the biggest trends of modern mixology is the application of sustainable working practices as well as fermentation especially since both generally go hand in hand. Especially when it comes to re-using ingredients or making by-products go the extra mile. One of the most commonly thrown away foods in the hospitality industry is bread. It is often said you should NEVER run out of bread in a restaurant & NOBODY likes to eat stale bread either! So what if we could use our stale bread too make a naturally fermented, low-abs & healthy beverage to use in our bar program? Say hello to KVASS!

A drink with an ancient history

Kvass is a fermented beverage from Russia & is rooted deeply in the history of the country. In fact, it can be traced further back than before Russia was even on the map. An ancient version of kvass is said to have existed in Ancient Egypt, Babylon and Greece, although the exact origin is unclear. Kvass came to Russia just over 1,000 years ago, and it was mentioned in Russian manuscripts from the time. It was an everyday drink in old Russia, valued for its thirst-quenching properties and energising effect. It was the drink farmers would take to the field on a hot day. Back in those days, people believed that kvass had healing properties, and modern science has proved that these beliefs were not without reason. Kvass does have properties that help kill parasites and harmful bacteria, which made it safer to drink than water at that time. Maybe you have never heard of this drink before today, but this is quite an ancient beverage. You might be surprised to know that we are talking about something older than vodka itself. This is especially surprising due to the modern association of Vodka & Russia. Kvass has been around since before the Red Square, vodka, the Cyrillic alphabet or even Russia as a country. Before Russians were creating the biggest country on Earth, people were drinking kvass by the Moscow River.

The first written mention of kvass takes us back to the year 989, but most probably it was being consumed centuries before that. In the 18th century, in the times of Peter the Great, this was the most popular drink among every class in society and during some periods of time it was reported that many people consumed more kvass than water. During the Soviet Union, kvass was nicknamed “The Communist Coca-Cola”. In those times Russians could freely buy Pepsi, but not Coca-Cola. Despite that, the nickname most probably is due to the fact that the colour of kvass resembles that of the American drink. Nowadays its per capita consumption reaches 3 litres a year. 

The process of fermentation

There is a legend behind how kvass was first discovered in Russia, and, like in many great discoveries, it was by accident. One day, a farmer found that a bag of grain he was storing had been penetrated by water. The seeds had sprouted and grown through. In an attempt to save his grain, the farmer dried it and milled it into a flour. Yet this flour was no good for making bread. He decided to pour hot water over the mixture and leave it to ferment. This simple process is still used to make kvass on an industrial level. Kvass is a fermented beverage, which is made from rye bread. The colour of the bread used, you can use regular or black bread, contributes to the final colour of the drink. Apart from water and bread, you can add other ingredients such as yeast, malt, sugar or different fruits. Kvass is often flavoured with strawberries or other sorts of berries. You c