Kvass or kvas (literally "leaven"; borrowed in the 16th century from Russian квас (kvas)), sometimes translated into English as bread drink, is a fermented mildly alcoholic beverage made from black or rye bread. It is popular in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other Eastern and Central European countries as well as in all ex-Soviet states, like Uzbekistan, where one can see many kvass vendors in the streets. Its origins go back 5,000 years to the beginnings of beer production.
The alcohol content is so low (0.05-1.44%) that it is considered acceptable for consumption by children. It is often flavoured with fruits or herbs such as strawberries or mint. Kvass is also used for preparing a summer cold soup, okroshka.
Kvass has been a common drink in Eastern Europe since ancient times. It was first mentioned in Old Russian Chronicles in the year 989. In Russia, under Peter the Great, it was the most common non-alcoholic drink in every class of society. Later, in the 19th century, it was reported to be consumed in excess by peasants, low-class citizens, and monks; it was, it is sometimes said, usual for them to drink more kvass than water. It has been both a commercial product and homemade. It used to be consumed widely in most Slavic countries, where in almost every city there are kvass vendors on the street. And "despite its humble folk origins, the fermented-bread drink brewed by Russians for over 1000 years has become a booming multimillion-dollar industry." Moreover, "once sold only during the summer out of wheeled yellow tanks the size of beer barrels, kvas is now bottled, canned and shipped across the country all year round."
Reportedly, "to find authentic kvas, connoisseurs come to a town called Zvenigorod about an hour west of Moscow, where in a basement beneath the onion domes of the town's 15th-century Orthodox monastery, a huge refrigerator chills vats of the muddy brown brew. For over 600 years, monks at the Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery have been brewing kvas for themselves, and began selling it [in 2001]. Unlike mass-produced varieties, the monastery's kvas has no preservatives and spoils within five days."
Kvass is made by the natural fermentation of bread made from wheat, rye, or barley, and sometimes flavoured with fruit, berries, raisins or birch sap collected in the early spring. Modern homemade kvass most often uses black or rye bread, usually dried, baked into croutons (called suhari), or fried, with the addition of sugar or fruit (e.g. apples or raisins), and with a yeast culture and zakvasska ("kvass fermentation starter").
Commercial kvass, especially the cheap brands, is sometimes made just like any other soft drink, using sugar, carbonated water, malt extract, and flavourings. Better brands, often made by beer rather than soft drink manufacturers, usually use a variation of the traditional process to brew their products. Kvass is commonly served unfiltered, with the yeast still in it, which adds to its unique flavour as well as its high vitamin B content. Reportedly, although "western imports like Coca-Cola and Pepsi once stifled the commercial kvas market", presently "a kvas revival has taken hold as Russia's companies pitch it as a patriotic cola alternative." Reportedly, in Russia, "bottled kvas sales have tripled in the [since 2005], according to Moscow-based Business Analytica, and Russians will drink more than three litres per person [in 2008]." Furthermore, "in Moscow, cola's share of the soft drink market dropped from 37 to 32 per cent between 2005 and 2007, while kvas' market share, 16 per cent in 2007, more than doubled over the same period." Consequently, "Coca-Cola introduced its own brand [in May of 2008], the first time a non-Russian company entered the market as a key producer, and Pepsi [has also] entered a distribution deal with a Russian kvas company." Reportedly, "new distribution and storage technologies - as well as a heavy dose of Madison Avenue-style marketing - have breathed life into the market, which has seen the entrance of three new major brands since 2004."
For example, "Nikola, [a company with a Russian name] which [sounds like] 'not cola' in Russian, launched an "anti cola-nisation" campaign in Moscow last year that billed its kvas as the Russian alternative to "cola-nist" soft drinks. The company ran ads featuring look-alikes of Michael Jackson and Kiss singer Gene Simmons scaring Russian children and bathers while holding up cola. Then the look-alikes reveal themselves to be 'real Russians' and begin drinking kvas."
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the street vendors disappeared from the streets of Latvia due to new health laws that banned its sale on the street and economic disruptions forced many kvass factories to close. The Coca-Cola company moved in and quickly dominated the market for soft drinks, but in 1998 the local soft drink industry fought back by selling bottled kvass and launching an aggressive marketing campaign. This surge was further stimulated by the fact that kvass sold for about half the price of Coca-Cola. In just three years, kvass constituted as much as 30% of the soft drink market in Latvia, while the market share of Coca-Cola fell from 65% to 44%. The Coca-Cola company had losses in Latvia of about $1 million in 1999 and 2000. The situation was similar in the other Baltic countries and in Russia. Coca-Cola retaliated by buying kvass manufacturers and also started making kvass at their soft drink plants.
WIPO ASSIGNS PATENT TO KRONES FOR "METHOD AND DEVICE FOR THE THERMAL TREATMENT OF KVASS WORT" (GERMAN INVENTORS)
Mar 10, 2011; GENEVA, March 10 -- Publication No. WO/2011/026591 was published on March 10. Title of the invention: "METHOD AND DEVICE FOR THE...
Wipo Publishes Patent of Mariya Andreevna Skripitsyna for "Consortia of Microorganisms, Strains of Microorganisms, Methods for Producing a Fermented Base, Fermentation Kvass and Alcohol-Free Kvass, Methods for Producing a Liquid Kombucha Culture, a Kombucha Concentrate and Kombucha Drinks and a Method for Producing Vegetable Extracts" (Russian Inventor)
Oct 31, 2012; GENEVA, Oct. 31 -- Publication No. WO/2012/144937 was published on Oct. 26. Title of the invention: "CONSORTIA OF MICROORGANISMS,...
Flour Economy, Mikrosurovin, Dispensing Center Pastries, Breads, Storage and Dispensing of Oil, Water Dispensing, Aspiration, Stations for Big-Bag, Wheat Kvass, Sponge, Rye Stabilized Kvass, Productio
Oct 16, 2013; Contract notice: Flour economy, mikrosurovin, dispensing center pastries, breads, storage and dispensing of oil, water...