Kvass barrel was summer sign in Norilsk
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Kvass barrel was summer sign in Norilsk

November 25, 2021

On August 1, 1958, the first tanks with locally produced kvass appeared on Norilsk streets.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Many townspeople still remember the yellow barrel on the summer streets of Norilsk, an enamel can with a rattling lid… Norilsk kvass has a long history.

The fact that the first cisterns appeared in 1958 does not mean that there was no kvass in Norilsk before. In 1944, a fermentation shop was created in the city, which later grew into a Norilsk brewery. The assortment of 1944 – coniferous kvass, vitamin malt kvass, beer and mash. A year later, bread kvass, carbonated water, syrups and fruit drinks were added. The production of beer and vitamin drinks was necessary to improve the supply in order to overcome scurvy.

They say that coniferous kvass was healing, but very bitter. As for the bread one, the Norilsk people drank it with pleasure: it was made with live yeast, like homemade one. By 1969, eight to ten thousand liters of kvass were delivered to counters and streets in cisterns for Norilsk residents every day. In the summer, long lines lined up to the yellow barrels.

There were a lot of barrels in the summer: on Leninsky prospect, near the Lama and Taimyr restaurants, on Octyabrskaya square, near the Moskva store, near the old bazaar on Kirov street, on the beach near Dolgoye lake and, of course, near the city ​​stadium.

Norilsk residents recall such a city legend in connection with kvass. At the end of the day, the barrel with the foamy drink was not taken away from the stadium, but left to ‘spend the night’ in the same place, only the neck of the tank and the taps were locked. One night, teenagers from a neighboring yard drove the barrel of kvass right from the street. All night long the whole yard drank kvass, taking it home with buckets. And one of the friends was late: he came out with a can at half past five in the morning, and saw the police writing the protocol. “Where are you going, young man?” – “To buy some milk”.

In the 1980s, gas water vending machines became a more popular form of selling soft drinks.

So not only “carbonated” and “with syrup” water was bottled, but also beer and kvass. On hot summer days, that brought a lot of money to the Norilsk trade. Only gas water for three kopecks gave a profit of up to three thousand rubles a day.

In the last issue of the History Spot photo project, we told about the monument to the ‘Norilsk admiral’ on the Blizhny island: the stele was placed where the legendary inspector of the State Inspection for small boats made the drunken navigators sober.

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Text: Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive

November 25, 2021

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