Brewing kvass – Trying it at home (Part 2)

It was only recently that my Ukrainian colleague Lyuba told us some introductory facts about the tradition-steeped drink called “kvass”, and announced that she was entering the ranks of the home-brewers on our behalf. How did she get on, and how did it all turn out? Let’s see what she has to say. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this, and trying it out for yourselves, of course! And let us know how you got on 🙂 

These are the ingredients you need for home-brewed kvass: water, rye bread, yeast, sugar, mint, currants. So there’s nothing exotic that would be difficult to source – no excuses accepted 😉

It’s the brewing process involved that’s a bit more demanding:

First, I cut 500 g of rye bread into slices, and baked it in the oven at medium heat until it turned crispy.

Then I tore the slices into small bits, put them in a pot, and poured about 2 litres of boiling water onto them. The quantities of water and bread will depend, of course, on how many litres you want to brew. Now I put the lid on and allowed the “bread soup” to steep for 24 hours without any heat.

On the next day, I mixed a yeast cube with 150 g of sugar, and after the 24 hours had passed added this to the pot.

So far, I have to admit, the whole thing didn’t look particularly appetising – though it got a bit better when I added a few sprigs of mint.

Then I mixed everything thoroughly. The bread was meanwhile beginning to disintegrate, and turning the water cloudy – very appetising. Reminded me at first more of a muddy puddle than a fine-tasting beverage.

When I looked at it, the first doubts began to dawn. How could this concoction turn into something fit for human consumption? But all was not yet lost. It had to rest for another 12 hours, after all … So I put my trust in the recipe and my parents’ advice, and didn’t lose confidence in the potential of my “bread water”.

And then, after waiting another 12 hours, this was what I got:

It certainly looked better than before, but the process hadn’t been completed yet. Now the liquid still had to be poured off, and refined with an abundance of currants or berries.

The beverage now had to ferment for four days in a cool place. After that, I poured off the liquid again – and I also removed the currants following the last fermenting process, since they were looking rather soggy.

And here is the result:

My kvass was gleaming in an attractive shade of mustard, not in the brown I was expecting, and which was common to most of the varieties I had drunk. But never mind, perhaps it would nonetheless taste the way I’d hoped?

Next day, I went to the office to display the fruits of my labours. My colleagues eyed the bottle more than a little suspiciously.

First of all, my experiment was subjected to an olfactory test: “Like an apple juice well past its sell-by date,” was one colleague’s comment. Oh dear, my favourite drink doesn’t exactly feel flattered. My colleague Hanni said it smells strongly of yeast. I myself detect a slight smell of kvass, but I can’t honestly say I find it very convincing.

Be that as it may, looks and smell aren’t everything. Here, the intrinsic values are more important: well, then, nazdrovje!

After a few sips, the guessing game commenced: “It’s a bit like must and new wine,” was one surmise. “Very highly carbonated.” And all of them came to the same conclusion: “Tastes a bit strange, but it’s quite drinkable.”

Well, these were definitely not the reactions I was expecting, since kvass has nothing in common with these descriptions. High time for me to try it myself.

After the first sip, I immediately realised: I don’t know what I’ve brewed up here, but it certainly isn’t kvass. It did in fact taste rather funny: not enough sugar, too much carbon dioxide, yeasty taste far too prominent. And presumptively a higher alcohol content than 1.4 %. So what went wrong? Perhaps I really did get the proportions wrong for the ingredients. Or did I let it ferment for too long? Or had Lady Luck deserted me? I don’t think I’m ever going to find out.

The verdict on my home-brewing experiment: I’m most definitely not an irreplaceable loss for the brewing industry. But the time wasn’t wasted, either; it was all a lot of fun. In future, I shall be leaving the kvass brewing to others, and shall be bringing my favourite drink back from the Ukraine once more.


Share on Pinterest
Your Comment

All (*) marked fields are mandatory fields