Kvass Can: Circa 1980s?
This month's can is not technically a beer can, though it is for a malt beverage. It's a Russian Kvass can. I have two different versions of this can and I recently had a friend who knows Russian translate it for me. I saw a photo of this can once and thought it was an interesting can. It took me a couple years before I found one on eBay I got from a Swedish collector. I found this one at a breweriana show just this past July. And yes, the bear is really cool-looking. That's what attracted me to the can in the first place.
When I was first looking for this can I was told several things about it.....
1. It's a Kvass can (we'll get to what Kvass is momentarily).
2. It's a Soviet-era can from the Cold War.
3. It was made for consumption on East European trains (I was told specifically Czechoslovakia).
FYI, it can be spelled either "Kvas" or "Kvass."
These three each made some sense to me. I know canned beer was popular for use on trains and airplanes because of weight and space issues. But when I had the can's text translated I found that, while the first two things were true, the third is probably wrong.
I have several friends who read/speak Russian so when I got this example I asked them for a translation. Here is what they said. We'll look at the can one bit at a time. The left column has the can pic, the right column the translation.
MPP is some ministry, probably similar to the FDA.
RSFSR is Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic which is what Russia was called in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, not what is now which is Russian Federation.
RosGlavPivo is the state sponsored beer industry. Ros for Russia. Glav for main or central. Pivo means beer.
Moscow Specialized Company
Russian Kvas (brand name like Pepsi)
Russian Kvas Concentrate
Safe to drink for up to 2 months if can is not opened and is kept between 2 and 12 degrees C
This panel has instructions for making the Kvass:
Dilute the can contents using drinking water at 28-30 ◦C, 1:12 ratio, add 1 g of yeast.
Let it ferment for 12 hours.
Then cool and strain the resulting kvas.
Kvass is made from black or rye bread with sugar and yeast added. It's usually low alcohol, less than 1.2%. Most popular in Russia and the Ukraine, it's also consumed in parts of the rest of Eastern Europe. Kvass is considered a poor person's or peasant's drink. Like soda pop, it is fizzy, however, it's not loaded with sugar, or corn syrup and it's got a lot of Vitamin B. When the USSR collapsed it lost popularity to soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi. Recently it had been remarketed in Russia as a "patriotic" substitute to western sodas. And Coca Cola, with its eye always on new markets, is now selling its own Kvass brand.
Fermenting Kvass. Yummy!
"Fermenting kvass" by Edmund Schluessel - Sanyo S750i. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -
Kvass is also an ingredient in a cold soup called okroshka (окрошка) which has raw veggies plus cooked eggs, potatoes and some kind of meat. I hate soup, so that's not making it sound more appealing.
Here is the first Kvass can I bought. This one does not have the instructions on the back and it seems to lack the word for "concentrate." So I am guessing this was just a plain old can of yummy Kvass.
Wikipedia article on Kvass (accessed 8/1/14)
LinguaLift Blog (accessed 8/1/14)
Thanks Janet, Mike and Boris for the translations!