Kvass pronounced 'quass' is a 16th century beer like beverage found in countries in the Slavic region such as Russia, Uzbekistan, Latvia, and so on. In Russian, Kvass means 'leaven' and has been mentioned in classic Russian literature including Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, and Tolstoy's Death of Ivan Ilyich.
This dark, slightly sour, bready brew is the staple drink of European corner stores. Brewers in the United States have largely ignored this style until recently where a few adventurous brewers have begun toying with the ancient loafy beer. One company in particular that has taken to the Kvass beer style is Scratch Brewing Company in Ava, Illinois.
Scratch Brewing Company started making Kvass soon after their onsite kitchen began making sour dough bread. They would take toasted leftover loaves of sourdough bread, soak it in hot water overnight, and in the morning separate the soggy bread from the liquid and move it into a mash tun combined with standard brewing malt. The Kvass does not have hops, and ferment wort with the same sour dough yeast culture used in their bread.
The taste of Kvass depends on the bacteria culture or yeast strain used, and the herbs and fruits added to the brew. The brews are made with grains including wheat, rye, and barely, and often have additions of sugars, birch sap, berries, and fruits, all fermented with simple bakers yeast. With its salty, tart, acidic characteristics, Kvass is similar to a Gose.
This Russian beer, Kvass typically has a low ABV under 2%, though the range is 0.5-2.5%. However, an Imperial Kvass beer has an ABV of 4%. Filtered, unfiltered, and non alcoholic versions of this beverage exist. The brew ranges from golden amber to dark mahogany depending on the color of the bread used to make it. Kvass is best served in a traditional kvass beer mug or pint glass, and enjoyed with freshly baked sourdough or rye bread, the Slavic soup okroshka, and tilsit cheese.
Our beer of the month club members get to enjoy this brew style in their subscription box. Cheers!