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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kvass Ochakovskiy

Okay, admittedly, I had to guess on the name of this one.

The Kibbitzer-in-Chief returned from one of her mysterious "go somewhere other than the Lab for a while" missions with a can of something yellow and an odd smile on her face.
"It's called Kvass," she said, "and apparently it's popular in Russia."
The can was extensively Cyrillic.

As a scientist and Quaffmaster, I do try to keep a cosmopolitan worldview. I try to sample Weirdness from around the world. Heck, we've even tried something from Antarctica!* But Russia is a new one for me. I'm out of my depth, and need to consult with an outside expert.
My good friend who shall for the moment remain nameless--a fellow scientist--was over the other day, helping put up gutters on the Lab.

Me: "So, GFWSFTMRN, you read Russian, right?"
Me: "What the heck is this stuff?"

My friend proceeded to describe Kvass. Apparently, in Russia, this stuff is brewed up from stale rye bread by the kegful and sold on street corners. It's technically a fermented product, but the alcohol content is very low. According to some quick and superficial research, for a while it was displaced by Coke and Pepsi, but it has made a recent comeback based on nationalist pride.

I'm going to quaff Russian nationalist fermented rye bread. I have the greatest calling EVER.

Color: Dark caramel brown. Slightly lighter than most colas. A pretty orange-brown, medium carbonation.
Scent: Malty, but less bitter than Malta Hatuey.
Me, to K-i-C: "Here, smell."
It's not that bad. Slightly spicy, strong malt, a bit of root beer/cinnamon.
Taste: Not nearly as sweet as I expected. A fairly strong beer/hops flavor, also a strong taste of carbonation (which is odd, given that the carbonation is pretty mild).
There's an interesting malt flavor. It's actually fairly mild, tends to linger around the top.
Me, to K-i-C: "Want to try it?"
She tries several times, but is actually unable to sip any.
K-i-C: "Can you make beer out of raisins?"

Hmm. I guess I can taste what she means. With the bread, it's kind of like bread pudding soda.

The aftertaste is fairly lemony, acid, with a slightly-sweet beer-like note.

This may be one on which the K-i-C will have to disagree. I kind of like it. Not a lot--I don't think I'd go down to the street corner for a refreshing cup of Kvass--but it's far better than some things I've had. If I were a beer afficionado, I would probably appreciate it more. Still, a big "Spasiba!" to the makers of Kvass. Pretty good stuff.


Or maybe not.

Quaff rating: 2.5. It's not exactly splendid, but I can see the appeal.

Cough rating: 1.5 (for me). I'm betting the K-i-C would go to about 4.5.

*And just in case someone should comment on this (see comments in linked review): yes, I know it's not from Antarctica.


  1. Though I'm tempted to make one of those "in Soviet Russia..." jokes, I'll refrain for the sake of everyone whose eyes will bleed if they read one more of them.

    Your writing is pretty entertaining by itself, but I think this blog would really benefit if you added pictures of the products you're reviewing.

  2. Let me help out. In Soviet Russia, stale rye bread ferments YOU!

  3. You might also like to try different brands of kvas before finding the best flavor. The canned/bottled stuff is almost always really gross. But to each his own. The best is the stuff we grew up on, which was sold at a kiosk near the grocery store. Soviet ice cream and kvas are probably the best things I have EVER tasted.

  4. mmm... I made beet kvass last year. I think it was just beets and salted water, or maybe plain water. Then the natural yeasts on the surface of the beet do their thing, and you end up with OH MY GOD THE BEETIEST NASTINESS. It was kind of good actually, but VERY VERY BEETY. And healthy-tasting. And foreceful in its flavorage. Also, it did the thing that beets do where everything that comes out of you is like MAGENTA. Amazing,

  5. hey dude where did you get the kvass and would you sell me a bottle lol

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  11. Just tried Ochakovskiy for the first time... Tastes like a thin prune juice...


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