Fermented Rye Drink (AKA Cool Beard-Guy Soda) - Appetit Fine European Food Market
Some of you might remember this post from December when someone crashed into my car and totaled it. Not the best way to start off the new year, but thankfully no one was seriously injured. I had to get back to work ASAP, so I started shopping for used cars immediately and while I was out looking at dealerships I decided to make lemonade out of life's lemons and took this opportunity to visit a shop I've always driven by, but never had time to visit, Appetit Fine European Food Market!
Appetit is a small corner-store along the highway that specializes in Eastern European products. It's been around for a few years, and I've always wanted to see what's inside, but I never found the time to stop in, until now, and they have some cool stuff! I grabbed a few snacks, some activated charcoal tablets (to try some of the stuff I've seen on Pinterest) and this fancy Beard-Guy Soda.
When I purchased this soda back in January I had no idea what it was, all I knew was that this bearded mascot-guy looked amazing and that my adventurous foodie-friends would totally get a kick out of trying this with me. I had to have it.
Safe to say, the labeling and old-world-looking design is why I bought this, so I love how it looks, but it's not without it's flaws. The nutritional info on the back is nearly impossible to read! It's so freaking tiny! I have eyes like a hawk and I can just barely make-out the important stuff. I took a photo of this with my camera and blow it up to get a closer look. (Which worked out really well.)
From what I've gathered this is a product of Ukraine, it's got a 6-month shelf life, there's sugar and yeast in it, so it's fermented, but it's non-alcoholic. What will it taste like? Non-alcoholic...fermented...something. I guess. I don't really know what this is, the overall concept reminds me of those faux beer beverages like Goya Malta. Maybe this is a Ukrainian version of that?
I decided to open this bottle at my tasting party, because it's rude to give my guests flat beard-guy soda, and before we opened the bottle my friend Matt looked this stuff up. Apparently it's a fermented rye-based-drink. As in rye-bread? Interesting.
We twisted the cap off and the bottle made the same carbonated hissing noise as any other soda bottle, but the liquid inside smelled really sweet and a little bit yeasty. Not as yeasty and dry as beer, but yeasty as in a dark bread, like a dark rye, which makes sense, but it kept making me think of pumpernickel that had been soaked in Coke. Not a bad thing at all really, and way better smelling than I imagined, but still...odd.
We poured ourselves a glass, clicked our classy solo cups together in a playful toast, and down the hatch it went!
You know what...it's good! I normally hate beer, and most yeast-y beverages, but this tastes sweet and caramelized, like a traditional cola with a hint of yeasty-ness that is very bread-like, which sounds incredibly weird, but it works! The general consensus at the party was that it was no where near as weird as we expected, and we each enjoyed our little glass, but no one seemed to go back for seconds. At the end of the night my other 2-liters of traditional sodas were empty, but this one was still half full, so it might not have won anyone over, but it wasn't spit-take-worthy either. Everyone finished their glass, they just didn't want to go back for more.
This was an interesting product, and if I had the opportunity to buy it in a smaller single-serving bottle, I'd buy it again. This larger size is just a bit too much for me, and once it goes flat, it's too sickeningly sweet and syrupy to drink, but it really isn't that bad!