The kvass that shook the BeerAdvocate Top 100
Read Part I of this article “The elusive kvass” here
People line up to drink kvass from a tanker cart.
Reviews trickled onto the BeerAdvocate website and a peculiar trend slowly emerged. The reviews highlighted the good and bad of the beers, compliments were mixed with criticism and the humored good nature of the local craft beer community was apparent. The one thing that was consistent was the score being posted: perfect.
When this happened in June of 2010 the BeerAdvocate “Top 100 Beers on Planet Earth” required a minimum of ten reviews to be listed. The exact formula was weighted in favor of consistent reviews. This means that a very controlled pool of reviews—for instance from a rare kvass that had never been reviewed before—could in effect be catapulted into the Top 100 with as little as a dozen reviews.
This is precisely what happened. As soon as eleven reviews came there it was. Just sitting there. Nobody seemed to notice at first, which gave it the chance to climb even higher. A couple days later it was sitting pretty at the #62 Top Beer on Planet Earth. Magnificently, this noble kvass shone brilliantly as a beacon of hope to the other kvasses of the world.
Ticking the elusive kvass
Kvass, an obscure style of Russian ale, is among the rarest varieties of beer to be had. This is important to note, as a popular activity among a certain wild breed of beer geeks is the illustrious activity known as ticking. Simply put, ticking is trying as many different kinds of beer as possible, and recording it for posterity. Popular variations of ticking includes sampling as many unique beers as possible, sampling beers from as many states or countries as possible, and in this case sampling as many unique styles of beer as possible.
Cue Woodshop 5.1, a beer tasting event held at Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood, CA. Beer geeks from across the Southern California region swarmed to the event with dreams of sampling the tasty rare beers that the Woodshop name had become synonymous with. One enterprising you man known named Bobby, and known to the wider beer community as t0rin0, was about to make that dream come true. The highlight of his cooler full of brews that day included none other than an elusive kvass called Khlebny Kray (read the accompanying review here).
Bobby had over a liter of the mystifying ambrosia in a plastic bottle he had procured from the far away land of the internet. In the land of ticking each person only needs approximately two ounces of beer, so this one large bottle was split well over a dozen ways.
This beer review is unedited from its original version as initially posted (and subsequently deleted) from BeerAdvocate. At one time BeerAdvocate rated this beer the #62 top beer on planet earth! Please refer to the accompanying article to be posted Wednesday: The Great Purge.
When I saw this plastic liter bottle labeled indecipherably in Cyrillic my bottom lip started trembling and my knees buckled slightly. In the cooler before me was a fabled kvass from the Eastern lands. I managed to land in a seat and my arm weakly held out my glass to receive this 1.2% ABV ambrosia. The best way to describe this feeling is to compare it directly to the Holy Communion. It sparkles a brilliant and clear ruby brown, with little head or lace. My nose, which was running because I was borderline crying at this point, managed to pick up oats, honey, and floral notes, sweet and inviting.
Tears came into my eyes as I meekly lifted the glass to my lips, immersing my palate in a world of unattenuated adjuncts as tears streamed down my red face. The flavor is sweet, reminds of root beer, jasmine tea, sassafras, honeysuckle. Herbal and floral, like a fine tea turned into a soda. Mouthfeel is medium, smooth, tealike, pleasantly carbonated.
I chanted, “Kvass! Kvass! Kvass!” as Bobby continued to give out samples, pumping my fists rapidly, doing a brief victory lap around the bar. Perhaps the rarest of styles, this was the most intense emotional experience of my life. I would love to drink this again. My eyes are tearing up as I type this.
Posted in Reviews
Tagged kvass, review