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Kvass is known to Slavic tribes for over a thousand years. I t is known that eastern Slavic tribes had the recipe long before the formation of Kiev Russia. The first time it is mentioned in scriptures is dated in year 989: After baptizing grand duke Vladimir I Svyatoslavovich ordered to distribute among the people "food, honey and Kvass". The drink was known in neighboring Poland and Lithuania as well.

In Russia Kvass was widely spread as an everyday drink: it was made by peasants, and landlords as well as clergy and military. The presence of Kvass in the house was thought of as a necessary element of wellbeing. Russian peasants, going to the field or any other heavy kind of work, were sure to bring Kvass along, as they were belived that it was capable of reliving tiredness and restore strength. This effect is confirmed by modern day studies. In certain situations, Kvass was attributed healing powers. During the time of Lents, especially in the summer, the main ration of common people was Kvass with scallions and rye bread.

Kvass is a drink of a very long tradition. First prototypes of the drink, which were something of a cross between Kvass and beer, were known in ancient Egypt in 6th millennium B.C. Descriptions of very Kvass like drinks can be found in works by Herodotus, Hippocrates and Plinius Sr.. A fruit flavored Kvass variety was known in Babylon, although it did not spread throughout Mesopotamia.

Kvass in the Russian Empire

All social classes were devoted to Kvass. Here is what Giacomo Kazanova had to say on the subject: They [the Russians] have a delicious drink, the name of which I do not remember; but it is much superior to the sherbet of Constantinople. The numerous servants are not given water, but a light, nourishing, and agreeable fluid, which may be purchased very cheaply.

The sanitary codex of Russian hospitals, giving in to the tastes of the patients, made Kvass a must have dietary item in all the infirmaries and hospitals. Even back then, the ability of this drink to raise the overall bodily tonus and improve digestive functions was known to the medical professionals. Additionally, Kvass was a mandatory item in the rations of the Army, NAVY and even prisoners.

A Kvass maker "Kvassnik" was a very common trade. Kvassniks usually specialized in a certain kind of Kvass, thus there were apple, pear, apricot etc. Kvassniks. Each member of the trade had his or her own specific neighborhood, and stepping outside of the trade region, could expect trouble from other Kvassniks.

The art of Kvass making started to decline by the mid XIX century, when the industrialization of Russia had begun. The need of preservation of the tradition has arisen. The Russian Society for Preservation of Public Health has risen to the cause. And many hospitals started making their own, 100% dietary, "hospital" Kvass.

Until the middle of XX century there was many yeast free, and therefore completely non alcoholic, equally good for children and adults alike, kinds of Kvass.

In USSR, Kvass was distributed in special easily recognizable small temperature proof, usually yellow colored barrels. This way of retail distribution is common to this day.