Guide to craft beers

Kvass: Bread beer made in Russia

kvass birra di pane
Written by EFW Staff

Bread beer: bread with rye, yeast and raisin

Do you know barley beer of the ancient Egyptians, or millet one of the African tribes, rice wines of Asia and chichi made with corn of the Indians of America? In Russia, since Medieval time people in Russia drink a beer made with rye bread! Kvass competes with the other weird productions of the world in the panorama of fermented beers.

Low-fermentation beer, Kvass, a Slavic word that means literally “yeast” is made starting from rye bread, black and not, and it is pretty spread in the Russian countries. The black bread gives it a peculiar colour, dark and cloudy, it is characterized for the low alcoholic volume that is around a 1°.

Where you can find this bread beer: Kvass dominates in Asia

This fermented drink that can be considered as a beer, is pretty popular in the eastern part of Europe and Asia, it is spread and appreciated in Russia and Ucraina, but also in Belarus, Estonia, Serbia, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania and in the ex Soviet countries like Georgia, Kazakhistan and Armenia where it is sold along the streets, but it is possible to find it also in China and in particular in the region of Xinjiang.

The unique success of the bread beers

Bread beer has a long history, in the Medieval time the poor families was used to drink this beverage and use it in cuisine. The most ancient sources mention eat already in the X century and it was pretty spread also under the Tsar Peter the Great. In the following years peasant, monks and lower classes carried on the production and a large consumption up to recent times when they started to produce it at a large scale and today is sold and exported all year round all over the world.

kvass birra di pane

How is it produced

Everything starts form the natural fermentation of the rye bread, rarely made of barley and wheat, sometimes flavoured with fruit like apples, raisin and wild berries and sugared with birch sap. The home production often uses old and dried rye black bread cooked on a griddle hotplate or fried and sweetened with sugar and fruit. Together with the bread they add yeasts and the starter that activate the fermentation. The industrial production, instead, has given up the traditional and authentic recipe, passed down by the beer producers, in favour of the use of fizzy and non-alcoholic drinks with sugar, malt and other aromas.

Characteristics and flavour

Kvass beer is often served non-filtered, with yeasts that give its unique taste and a high content of vitamin B. The result is a sweet fermented beer with sweet notes of sugar and fruit. It is possible to add also aromas of fruit or herbs, like strawberry or mint, without preservatives, thus it is essential to drink it within 5 days from the production.

How to prepare it at home

To prepare the Kvass you need:

500 g of black rye bread
6 l of water
30 g of beer yeast,
200 g of brown sugar,
1 C of flour,
1 pinch of salt,
80 g of raisin,
1 C of lemon juice and zest
Mint leaves to flavour.

Toast the slices of bread in the oven, crumble it in a pan and add hot water. After a night of resting, filter with a sieve, collect the water squeezing the bread and then throw it away. Aside, mix the crumbled yeast with flour, a spoon of sugar and 4 spoons of water and leave leavening for 30 minutes. Then, add the bread water together with sugar and salt. Place the liquid, the raisin, the lemon drops and mint in the bottle, close with cling film and fasten with a rubber band and leave fermenting for a week.
Finally, tap, filter and remove the raisin and the sediments and bottle again. After a week it is ready to drink.

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EFW Staff