I found Beavertown’s 100th gyle, Uncle Joe Russian Kvass, to be, er, interesting. It certainly appears to have divided opinion online, gathering mostly negative comments.
When I was handed a glass of Beavertown’s Uncle Joe’s Russian Kvass at The Rake after the Grand Final of the Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt, I had no clue as to what I was about to drink. I can remember blurting out, pickled eggs, as to me, it smelt and tasted just like a liquidsed pickled egg, not what I was expecting at all.
Much to my surprise, one of the party at The Rake offered me a full bottle of the stuff, if I wanted it. Of course I said yes, free beer, is free beer after all. I have absolutely no idea who the chap was, not even his name. I’d just like to thank him though, it was very kind, I owe you one. All this meant that I got to try a load more of it, at my leisure, in an environment where I could sit back and try and figure out what the beer was all about.
I’d decided to wait until drinking the bottle before looking up what a Kvass was supposed to be, so one night after work, I cracked the bottle open and sat back. It poured a dusky, slightly hazy marmalade colour, with no head whatsoever. I thought it smelt of slightly eggy mild pickling vinegar, my wife was adamant that it smelt of burnt toast though. It was pretty flabby in the mouth, while there was a bit of body about it, it was also quite watery, so didn’t feel like it was up to much. The taste was also a bit like pickling vinegar, pickling vinegar that had had a few hard boiled egg yolks blended into it.
Half way down the bottle my resolve crumbled and I plucked my copy of Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing off the shelf and looked up Kvass in the index. Sure enough, there’s a recipe for brewing your own in there and it proved once again that my wife’s sense of taste and smell is far, far superior to mine. It turns out that Kvass is brewed with rye bread (that’ll be where the toast was coming from) and can have various other things in it, like raisins and lemon juice, depending on which bit of Eastern Europe it’s being brewed in.
After reading the description of what it was supposed to have in it, it was immediately obvious that some of the sharpness in Uncle Joe was coming from lemon juice; the brew day blog makes for interesting reading (you’ll need to scroll down a bit). Having said that, I stand by my pickled egg comments. So think lemon juice soaked pickled eggs and toast soldiers. While I didn’t find it as unpleasant as that sounds, I can imagine that it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea; in fact it’s not, see here.
- Uncle Joe Russian Kvass, 3.9%, 660ml
Boak and Bailey reckon that Kvass might be next years big thing, if this beer is any indication of what we can expect, then I hope they’re wrong. While it was interesting and not totally unpleasant, it’s certainly not a beer that I want to be trying again anytime soon. I’d like to mark this one down as a one bit of sour beer bandwagon jumping too far, which might be a tad unfair, but I suppose that depends on if they brew it again and improve it, or if it’s a genuine one off.
I was trying to embed some tweets in this article, but for some reason they’re not being loaded. They may appear at some point…