August 01, 1995

Fermenting a Russian Revival

If, as the ad campaigns would have us believe, Russia's new generation is choosing Pepsi and other Western soft-drinks, at least one Russian firm is banking that the next generation will choose kvas.

What is kvas? Some people call it “Russian beer." True enough. it comes both dark and light, contains some alcohol and is brewed in a similar way. The main difference is in the grain (rye instead oi barley).

Kvas has every right to be called a traditional Russian drink. It appeared even before the ancient state of Rus', the forerunner of modem Russia. Several varieties of kvas were around as early as the 9th century. It was popular both with nobles and ordinary people, who believed it possessed magical qualities: with certain herbs added, it could protect you from curses, give you courage, and bring you success in trade.

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