Kvass is a traditional Russian beverage that is very popular throughout the ex-USSR countries. It is a bread-based drink not dissimilar to 1500s English Ale, and is bought in the store or made at home. It is very easy to make, and can be made with household ingredients.
Also, as AirbourneNation pointed out in the comments this is also a popular drink in Lithuania (where it is known as Gira).
Kvass is made by burning black or dark bread, and then letting it sit in boiling water overnight. The bread is then removed from the water, and sugar and yeast is added to ferment the drink. It is considered to be non-alcoholic by the Russian Government, because the alcohol range is anywhere from .5%-1%. Kids and adults alike drink Kvass as a soft drink, and some drink it because of its purported health benefits.
The ingredients for making your own very small batch of Kvass are:
- One slice of preferably dark rye bread (any bread will do, I used Oatnut bread for the pictures)
- 2 cups of water
- A teaspoon of baking yeast (you can use brewers yeast, which will create more complex, beer-like flavors, but is more expensive)
- 1/2-1 cup of sugar, depending on how sweet you want it to be (I used 1 cup)
- About 10 raisins (to provide nutrients for the yeast)
Step 1: Preparing the Toast Water
This step is fairly simple. Take your toaster, turn it up to the highest setting possible, and stick in your bread. If it is not burnt, put it in again at a lower setting and wait again. Set your toast aside. Take the water and in a tea pot or a sauce pan, bring it up to a boil, and pour into fa bowl. Put the toast in the water, pressing down until is completely submerged. Cover the cup with a plastic bag, and let it set overnight. If in the future you're preparing large batches of Kvass, it would be beneficial to make a great deal more toast water than you need, saving it in the freezer for future use, so you won't have to wait overnight for this step.
Step 2: Step 2: Fermentation
Once the toast water is ready, strain out the toast from the water, squeezing the toast to get the last few drops of goodness out of it. Pitch the yeast and add the raisins (optional) and sugar. Let this mixture ferment for 6 hours to a day.
After your Kvass is done fermenting, put it in your fridge for a day. Optionally, you can give it a shot of Co2 through a Soda Stream if you wish it to become extra effervescent. Remove the raisins and filter through a cloth to remove any last sediments.
Step 3: Step 3: Serve
To serve Kvass, pour it into a glass from 2-3 feet in order to acquire maximum head (which is desired). Serve chilled.
Step 4: Pro Tips
- To make Svekla Kvass, replace half of the water with beet juice
- To make Moshchnyy Kvass, ferment the Kvass for a week instead of a day. This is essentially a bread-based small beer, and should be drunk as such.
- To make flavored Kvass (which appears to be all the rage nowadays) replace a quarter of the water with your juice, and use 2-4 teaspoons more sugar.
- Kvass should keep for upwards of a month if stored correctly (e.g. sealed in a cold fridge), although it is best drunk before a week after it was made.