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Whole Foods' kvass is not kvass. Can anyone explain?

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I have seen signs that say kvass is coming soon to Whole Foods in New York. Some of the signs say "The Russians are coming!" and the like. I guess it is here, because the other day at Whole Foods they were giving out kvass samples. I tried it and it did not remotely resemble what I thought kvass was. I have been drinking kvass for years and my understanding was that it is sort of a yeasty rye soda from Russia. It is made out of bread and it bears some resemblance to beer. With the Russian-themed posters, I thought the WF kvass would be similar to what I get at Russian grocery stores in New York. However, what they were sampling at Whole Foods was a brightly-colored, non-carbonated, tart vegetable drink.

I tried googling and all I got were a few people also complaining that WF kvass is not kvass. Why is it called kvass, then?

Thanks for any insight!

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  1. Perhaps they were not expecting anyone to actually know what kvass is? Personally I can't stand kvass, fermented bread drink with a faint flavoring of raisins that have been scraped from the bottom of a very old container, and I'm a Pole through and through.

    1. If it's this product then it's Coke's version which is apparently popular in Russia (can't stand it myself - the "authentic" stuff, that is):


      1. Would I be giving them too little credit if I wondered whether they're confusing kvass with borsht? As in, all those Russian beverages look alike to them?

        What was the bright color?

        1 Reply
        1. re: falconress

          There were several bright colors- I tried an orange one (carrot ginger?) and there was a bright purple one and maybe a red one. I think it was these:

          They bore no resemblance in appearance or taste to what I thought was traditional kvass (what zitronenmadchen described as fermented bread drink with faint flavoring of raisins.) I can't imagine it could be the same product! Perhaps it is beet kvass as suggested below. I didn't know there was such a thing!

        2. Could it be beet kvass? That's the only kind of kvass I've ever tried (and made).
          Here is a recipe, which is more similar to the type I am familiar with:

          1. Some things from the old world, need to stay in the old world.Kvass is one of them.

            1. My grand mother made kvass all the time, stale rye bread, yeast, raisins, water and a slice pf lemon. I liked it then and miss it now, She also made a dynamite kefir.
              Whole Paycheck is beyond my means.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Passadumkeg

                Kvass varies wildly. I've had anything from a vile, almost undrinkable brew (bottled and from Russia) to lovely stuff that tasted like hard cider and I would have never guess it was bread based.

                It's sort of the same with all these types of lightly fermented drinks .. or more fermente drinks like wine and beer. Generally we think of wine as being made from grapes, but there are variations made of other fruits such as pineapple or apple. There's the brightly colored wine's like Boone's Farm. So, what makes wine, wine?

                Here's a funny description of one Kvass vendor from the old Mongolian Rally Chow tour


                "“This tastes like a dentist’s antiseptic,” I say. The caramel-colored drink is mildly minty, with an aftertaste that clings like peanut butter to the roof of my mouth ... Then I realize with horror: I’m drinking kvass.

                “Don’t drink it,” my friend Alex had warned before we left Moscow. “It tastes like Coca-Cola run through a radiator.” It’s a low-alcohol beverage made from fermented rye bread.

                “How is it?” Mims asks.

                I hand him the cup, and he sips.

                “It tastes like someone combined every half-empty, flat beer at a bar and added food coloring,” he says. “It’s concentrated frat party.”

                Here was my own personal first experience with kvas


                "The owner did try to talk me out of buying Kbac Kvas, a dark brown molasses colored soda from Russia. It in fact does have molasses in it as well as coffee powder, chicory root extract, St. John’s bread extract, prune juice, carbonated water and the usual sweeteners and preservatives"


                Fortunately I found local Russian delis that make tasty kvas.

                So, I guess if the WF version has bread in it, it is kvass, just a differeant variation.