A brief history of vodka and home brewing in Russia

Today, by the term “vodka” we mean a rectified product based on grain or other starch and sugar-containing raw materials with a strength of 40 degrees. However, this was not always the case. Previously, this word denoted virtually any distillate. The strength of such moonshine reached 75%. There was no uniform terminology, so in the future, to avoid confusion, we will call only the modern version vodka, leaving the word “moonshine” for earlier variations (although it came into use much later, and in those days such drinks were called hot wine).

It is not known for certain when the Russians learned to drive alcohol. According to some sources, the first documented evidence of the production of “burnt water” in Russia dates back to the end of the 9th century, and the first industrial production appeared two centuries later, however, due to the mismatch of terms, this cannot be asserted with certainty. Poland claims that the honor of the invention of grain distillate belongs to her, but grape wine was distilled on the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, so we are talking about brandy. But the term “vodka”, most likely, is precisely Polish, comes from the word “water” and has a diminutive meaning – something like “water”.

We do not know for sure who invented vodka in its more or less modern form (already based on grain, but still without using a rectification column), but legend claims that it was the monk Isidore in the 1430s. He called his invention “bread wine”. British ambassadors who visited Moscow in the 14th century argued that by that time moonshine had already become a national alcohol, and from the Novgorod Chronicles of 1533 it becomes clear that strong spirits were used not only for gastronomic, but also for medical purposes. Production methods were far from perfect, ready-made distillates often contained impurities, therefore, fragrances were often added to alcohols: spices, herbs, fruit essences. Also, sometimes the moonshine was frozen (so that the impurities precipitated), kept, filtered.

In 1450, the industrial production of moonshine expanded so much that the needs of the domestic market were fully satisfied, and in 1505 the first export of “fire water” to Sweden took place. By 1716, all distilleries belonged to the nobility, but no general rules and standards existed yet. Distillates from many distillations insisted on anything: wormwood, acorns, anise, chicory, juniper, birch, chamomile, peppermint, and a host of other ingredients.


The standard production process looked like this: starchy or sweet raw materials (rye, wheat, oats, peas, barley, millet, beets, etc.) were ground into flour, mixed with malt and poured with hot water. Yeast was added to the resulting wort, fermented and the distilled mash was subjected to distillation in a copper cube. After the first distillation, the alcohol was called “cancer” and was not yet ready to drink. Then the liquid was sent for re-distillation, not forgetting to separate the “heads” and “tails” this time. The resulting product after two distillations was called “plain wine”. If everything went well (the drink did not smell with fusel oils, it was transparent and clean), then we could stop there. However, if the “wine” failed (and due to imperfect technologies such an outcome was more than likely), it was corrected. For example, milk was added (meat broth, onion, rye bread), filtered, insisted on aromatic herbs, then distilled again.

In the 18th century, the St. Petersburg scientist T.E. Lovitz discovered a method for filtering an alcoholic mixture using coal (previously, river sand was used for this purpose), which made it possible to make bread alcohol cleaner.

The spread of moonshine vodka in Europe was facilitated by wars: Russian troops entered the territory of other states and brought “national alcohol” with them. In 1863, alcohol production became a state monopoly. At the same time, a unified standardization and terminology was established. After the Revolution of 1917, the state nationalized all production, so some of the winemakers emigrated abroad, taking with them the secrets of their recipes. So Russian vodka ended up in Europe and the USA and established itself there under the Smirnoff brand.


Before the invention of rectification, several types of “bread wine” were isolated:

  • Polugar (a mixture of grain alcohol and water in a 1: 1 ratio), 38-42%. Received this name because when the drink was set on fire, exactly half burned out.
  • Foamy wine (aka “penny”). The drink had nothing to do with sparkling wine, as the name might suggest. It was just that alcohol meters did not exist then, the fortress was determined using improvised methods. For example, they poured alcohol into a glass from a height of ~ 20 cm, if foam was formed, it means that the alcohol contained about 50 degrees.
  • Three-test wine, 54-56%. Double distilled grain alcohol diluted with water. The production technology is the same as that of a half-bar, but the strength is higher. When ignited, about two-thirds burned out.

The modern history of vodka

Modern vodka is not just a grain distillate, but a mixture of rectified ethyl alcohol with water, the date of its birth is January 31, 1865. It was on this day that chemist Dmitry Mendeleev, who opened the famous table of elements, defended his doctoral dissertation on the topic “On the combination of alcohol with water.” This scientist is considered the “father of vodka”, although in fact a forty percent mixture of alcohol and water existed before that.

However, the term “vodka” was fixed in official documents only in 1936, before that there was no single terminology. One and the same product could be called “alcohol”, “bread wine”, even “vodka product”.

One of the main works devoted to the history of the emergence of vodka is the book by V.V. Pokhlebkin “History of Russian Vodka”, but many researchers accuse the author of bias and “pan-Russianism”, so the source has been criticized many times and has a reputation in academic circles as not entirely reliable.

It is possible to speak of “real” vodka only since 1867, when A. Saval invented a rectifying apparatus (in 1881 E. Barbet improved the design by creating a continuous apparatus). Rectification made multiple distillations in copper stills unnecessary, because of which up to 50% of the product was lost (not to mention time), and by the end of the 19th century all “vodkas” had become rectified.

In 1894, an official vodka recipe was developed and established (the best scientists of that time worked on its creation). It was then that the reference strength of the drink was fixed at 40%. Despite the many legends associated with this, in fact, everything is simple: this degree is due to the peculiarities of distillation. It is no coincidence that most spirits (tequila, scotch, brandy, etc.) have exactly the same strength. Of course, with the help of water, you can dilute alcohol to almost any state, but from the point of view of taxation, it is more convenient for the state to take a single round indicator as a starting point – for example, 40 degrees.

At the same time, the term “moonshine” appeared, bearing a derogatory and dismissive connotation. It is very difficult to rectify alcohol at home, special and complex equipment is required, so the quality of homemade alcohol began to significantly lose to the factory one.

In 1919, the first anti-moonshiner law was passed. On the one hand, this was done in order to preserve the state monopoly on strong alcohol. On the other hand, to protect the population from low-quality and even harmful products. Real vodka passed not only rectification, but also coal filtration, and was distinguished by a high degree of purification. However, it was not possible to completely get rid of fusel oils until 1940, when the technology of dynamic processing of future vodka with activated carbon was invented (in 1948 it was introduced at all Soviet wineries).

In 1936, the USSR adopted GOST, according to which the pure water-alcohol mixture was named “vodka”. The international term “vodka” appeared in the 50s of the XX century. Since then, there have been no significant changes. Only the cleaning methods have changed, but the composition of the mixture (alcohol + water) and the strength remain the same. It is unlikely that there will be any changes in the future.

In 1998, the state monopoly on the production of spirits was abolished, and now you can find several thousand variations of this product on the market. On the world stage, vodka is considered the Russian national alcohol.

We check the quality of vodka in simple ways

In the modern world, everything can be counterfeited, including vodka. The consequences of poisoning with low-quality alcohol are very serious, up to and including death. Therefore, it will be useful for everyone to know how to check the quality of vodka at home. We will now look at four of the most effective verification methods.

Determining the quality of vodka begins in the store with a visual inspection of the bottle. The label must be intact and well adhered. Well-known manufacturers protect their products with holographic signs, make sure they are available.

The prices for vodka of the same brand cannot differ greatly in different outlets. If you find a store where vodka is sold 30-50% cheaper, I advise you not to buy there. Most likely, this is a fake. Do not believe the fables that this is a drink stolen from the factory, not taxed, therefore, it is cheap. So they say in all stores selling a surrogate.

Shake the bottle well before buying. Large bubbles indicate a strong dilution of vodka with water. After shaking in normal vodka, a “snake” of small bubbles should appear.

Already purchased vodka is checked according to the following indicators:

1. Smell. Having poured the first glass of vodka, be sure to hold it in your hands for 1-2 minutes and smell the contents. It should not smell out of the pile with acetone or anything else, only the smell of alcohol.

2. Weight. One liter of forty-degree vodka should weigh exactly 953 grams. First, the bottle is weighed separately, and then the purchased vodka is poured into it and weighed again. After subtracting the weight of the bottle, we get the net mass of vodka. If it approximately (plus or minus five grams) corresponds to 953 grams, this is high-quality vodka.

3. Conflagration. Pour slightly heated vodka into the lid and light it with a match. Good vodka burns with a light blue flame, bad vodka does not burn at all or flashes like gasoline.

4. Cold. An hour before the feast, vodka should be placed in the freezer, setting the temperature to -18-30 ° C. Fake vodka will freeze or form ice crystals. If this happened to your bottle, throw it away, you cannot drink such vodka.

Vodka snack is part of Russian culture

Vodka is able to highlight the advantages and hide the disadvantages of any dish. Each admirer of this drink has his own opinion on the best way to eat vodka. Snacks are not food, they are part of our culture. Foreigners who have lived in Russia do not even try to translate this word into their native language, they just say “zakuska”.

Vodka can be drunk with any food, excluding sweet dishes. For a friendly male company, a good snack will be a piece of bacon, a head of garlic and a loaf of black bread. In severe cases, you can even get by with one apple for three, but this is already extreme.

It is better to start eating vodka with hearty hot dishes, and then gradually move on to cold ones. In combination with vodka, pickles, mushrooms and fish are especially good. Well, green onions and herring are perfect for vodka and hot boiled potatoes.

Connoisseurs of the feast divide the vodka snack into three types:

  • Nutritious dishes (hot meat, fried fish) – are eaten first, their task is to remove an unpleasant aftertaste in the mouth and a burning sensation in the throat after drinking vodka.
  • Enveloping dishes (salads, soups, hot sauces) – it is better to try them when you are a little satiated. These snacks reinforce the taste of the previous step and slow down the intoxication. It is recommended to take a short break between eating nutritious and enveloping meals.
  • Washing dishes (mushrooms, pickles, vegetable pickles) – prepare the body for a new intake of vodka, refreshing the taste. Served last.

PS Not only people, but also dogs can drink and eat vodka. In the next video, Dick the dog shows his skill :).

Glycemic index and calorie content of vodka

Vodka occupies the bottom lines of the calorie rating of alcoholic beverages, and its nutritional value is close to zero. But this does not mean that the drink is suitable for those who are struggling with excess weight. With increased caution, it is necessary to treat vodka for people who, for health reasons, are forced to plan a diet taking into account the glycemic index.

Calorie content of vodka

Vodka is a distillation alcohol diluted with water to the desired strength. There are no proteins and fats in the drink, but the composition contains a small amount of carbohydrates – no more than 0.4 g per 100 ml of product. This feature is due to the fact that the basis for production is agricultural crops – wheat, rye, potatoes or corn. During the distillation process, the raw materials lose their nutritional value, but a small part of the carbohydrates remains. It is also important that manufacturers often improve the taste of the drink with the help of sugar syrup, honey, aromatic additives.

The calorie content of vodka may vary depending on the variety. The average value is 235 kcal per 100 g. The indicator is not high when comparing the drink with dessert wines and sweet liqueurs. For example, the nutritional value of creamy Bailey’s is already 327 kcal. Nevertheless, in terms of calorie content, vodka is close to pork meat, which has an average energy value of 260 kcal per 100 g.

Alcohol affects the breakdown of fat in the body. Metabolism takes place in the liver, which converts the supplied nutrients into energy necessary for vital functions. In the case of vodka, the protective function comes to the fore – the cells break down ethanol, trying to quickly remove it from the body. As a result, fat metabolism is inhibited, which contributes to weight gain.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted research on the effects of alcohol on fat metabolism. The experiment involved 8 men who drank two portions of alcohol with an interval of half an hour, all this time, measurements of the intensity of fat metabolism were made. The results showed that only 100 g of strong alcohol is capable of inhibiting the metabolism of fats in the liver by 78%.

Another danger of alcoholic beverages is that they are consumed in addition to the daily diet. Ethanol acts on the brain, activating food centers and removing psychological restrictions. Therefore, at the festive table, there is a great danger of going beyond the usual rate of calorie intake, which is not reflected in the best way on the figure.

Glycemic index of vodka

With diabetes and some types of diets, the glycemic index (GI) is taken into account – an indicator that determines the ability of foods to change blood sugar levels. Despite the fact that the GI of vodka is zero, ethanol causes severe fluctuations in glucose levels, which can be dangerous in endocrine diseases.

The liver cells occupied with alcohol neutralization cease to function normally. As a result, glycogen production is inhibited, and blood sugar levels plummet. This situation is fraught with the development of a hypoglycemic crisis. The problem is aggravated by the fact that with diabetes, the patient additionally takes drugs that lower glucose levels.

If the meal is accompanied by a plentiful snack with a high carbohydrate content, the opposite process is possible – hyperglycemia, leading to coma. For this reason, diabetic patients need to be very careful to drink vodka or even refuse it altogether.

Is it possible to get fat from vodka

Drinking spirits without a snack will not lead to weight gain. During the breakdown of alcohol, energy is released, sufficient for the functioning of the body. Therefore, dependence on alcohol in the late stages of alcoholism causes a decrease in body weight, since as a result of the destructive effect of ethanol on the internal organs, a person also loses his sense of appetite.

Vodka has fewer calories than other alcoholic beverages, so the main danger for the figure is a plentiful snack. To stay on top of your diet during the holidays, do not mix the strong drink with sugary fruit juices and lemonades.

Low Calorie Shake Supplements:

  • lime or lemon;
  • diluted cranberry juice;
  • tea with ice;
  • mineral water with mint and stevia.

The best helper in the fight against excess weight is moderation. If you’re on a diet, treat vodka like a piece of cake or ice cream and only consume the drink in exceptional cases.

Is it possible to get fat from beer – the correct answer to an exciting question

Drinking beer leads to weight gain, as its opponents say. Indeed, many fans of the foamy drink clearly see the “beer” belly of impressive size. But its appearance is only indirectly related to beer. The real reason lies in another aspect of beer culture.

In some countries, beer is called “liquid bread” because it is made from barley. Hence the myth of its high calorie content arose. In fact, beer is one of the lowest-calorie alcoholic drinks, only 29-53 Kcal per 100 grams. For comparison, the calorie content of vodka is 231-250, that is, 8-10 times more.

Now let’s think about what we used to eat beer? Usually these are high-calorie snacks: nuts, chips, crackers, fish, etc. By consuming these products often and in large quantities, beer lovers get fat before our eyes.

Another important point is that after a few bottles of beer, most people have a brutal appetite. The carbon dioxide in the drink expands the stomach and irritates the receptors. The body begins to demand more food. As a result, together with beer, we eat a huge amount of high-calorie foods.

Conclusion: people get fat not from beer, but because of snacks eaten with it.

The best beer in the world according to the magazine “Beers of the World”

Among beer lovers, disputes about the best beer do not cease, everyone defends their favorite brand. The famous magazine “Beers of the World” decided to say its weighty word by defining the best beer in the world. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the results of the competition.

The editorial board of the magazine gathered an international panel of judges, which during its work evaluated more than a hundred varieties of beer from the USA, Australia and Europe. In the final part of the competition, the winner was determined by the blind tasting method.

Four brands of bottled beer received the prestigious Best in the World status in various nominations. Winners:

  • wheat beer – Kaltenberg Konig Ludwig Weissbier;
  • ale – Tripel Karmeliet;
  • lager – Primator Exkluziv, 16%;
  • stout (porter) – Rogue Shakespeare Stout.

I have not seen any of these brands on the shelves of our stores, so it is rather problematic to try them in Russia.

In his closing remarks, the chairman of the panel of judges noted that the experts were amazed by the highest quality of the presented beer, it was very difficult to determine the best brand. Modern brewers experiment with different flavors, their assortment will pleasantly surprise even the most demanding gourmets.

How much beer can you drink per day

According to statistics, every second resident of Russia has tasted beer at least once in his life. Many people liked its taste so much that now they are ready to drink beer every day. But excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to health. I advise you to remember the maximum allowable daily dose.

Beer can be viewed not only as an alcoholic beverage, but also as a food product. It contains vitamins and trace elements useful for the body. Beer is also lower in calories than fruit juices and cola because it does not contain sugar. Even special beer diets have been developed to help you lose weight.

The benefits and harms depend on the quantity and quality of the drink. Experts recommend healthy people without chronic diseases to drink no more than 0.5 liters of beer per day and to give it up at least twice a week. Moreover, the drink itself must be of high quality.

Not following this recommendation, you risk ruining your stomach with the remains of brewer’s yeast and harm the cardiovascular system. Also, do not forget about beer alcoholism. Addiction to low alcohol drinks develops several times faster than to strong alcohol.

The most common beers

All traditional beers are divided into ale and lager depending on the fermentation method. But there are several varieties that cannot be attributed to any of these groups. We’ll look at them separately. This is the international classification used in most countries.

Ale is a top-fermented beer harvested at a relatively high temperature (15-25 ° C). It has a high alcohol content and a fruity flavor. Made from barley malt. The most famous representative of ale is porter .

Lager is a bottom-fermented beer. It is harvested at 5-15 ° C, then kept at a temperature close to zero for 20-120 days. During aging, the lager is saturated with carbon dioxide and clarified. At the final stage, the beer is filtered and filled into bottles or barrels. The main raw material is barley malt.

Lager beer is the most popular in the world (80% of sales). Lager includes the best types of beer represented by the brands Amstel, Carlsberg, Budweiser, Becks, Stella Artois, Heineken, Baltika and Obolon.

Unconventional beers

Lambic is a Belgian beer brewed by spontaneous fermentation. Brewer’s yeast is not added, microorganisms enter the wort from the air. For fermentation, only barrels in which wine was previously stored are suitable.

Barley and non-sprouted wheat grains are used as raw materials. To reduce the bitterness of the drink, lambic hops have been dried for over three years. Fermentation lasts about a week, the resulting beer is aged for several years.

Some breweries mix young lambic with more matured varieties for a variety of flavors. While this variety is very rare in Russia, it is supplied only by the Belgian brewery Grand Cru Bruocsella.

Wheat beer – made on the basis of wheat malt. When it is brewed, the method of after-fermentation in a bottle is used, that is, the drink fully ripens while already in the bottle. In most cases, wheat beer is light hazy in color. But in some breweries it is filtered and even made black. This is a traditional Bavarian summer beer.

There are also hybrid beers, which are a combination of ingredients and brewing technologies, and special beers – beers with different additives. But they have nothing to do with classic brewing.

5 rules for storing wine in an apartment

The wine cellar is far from the only place where you can store wine. It is easy to create suitable conditions even in the most ordinary apartment. To do this, it is enough to control five important parameters.

1. Temperature conditions. The optimum storage temperature for wine is 10-15 ° C. Compliance with this rule not only preserves the quality of the drink, but also allows you to quickly prepare it for serving. White wines are served at 9-12 ° C, red wines at 15-17 ° C.

High temperature contributes to the rapid aging of wine, it loses freshness and subtlety of taste. With strong cooling, the drink stops ripening, its organoleptic properties deteriorate forever.

The wine should be protected from sudden temperature changes that spoil the cork. Otherwise, oxygen will enter the bottle, causing oxidation. The most vulnerable are champagne, rosé and white wines, the stability of their temperature regime is required.

2. Humidity. The room must maintain a constant humidity of 60-80%, which prevents the cork from drying out and the formation of mold.

3. Lighting. Wine should be stored in a dark place as bright light ages faster. Direct sunlight, which quickly spoils the taste of the drink, is especially dangerous. For storing champagne, the farthest corners are best, where a minimum of light penetrates.

4. Horizontal position. Wines with traditional cork are stored only horizontally so that the drink comes into contact with the cork and prevents it from drying out. The position of bottles with screw and silicone closures is not critical.

5. Complete rest. One of the most important conditions. The wine should not be exposed to vibration; for this, the bottles are securely fixed.

Opened wine can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (champagne – 1 day), provided that the bottle is tightly closed with a cork. But the quality of the drink will begin to deteriorate after a few hours. The exception is fortified and dessert wines (Jerez, Port, Madera, Sauternes). Due to their high sugar and alcohol content, they can be kept open for 5-7 days.

About the dangers of non-alcoholic beer

The minimum alcohol content in non-alcoholic beer makes it harmless, as many supporters of this drink believe. But in practice, everything is more complicated. Alcohol is not the only cause of health problems in those who are overly addicted to beer. Pregnant women and people with kidney disease need to be especially careful.

To begin with, let’s look at the difference between regular and non-alcoholic beer, it is insignificant. Non-alcoholic beer has a low alcohol content (maximum 0.5%), which makes it safe for drivers and others who cannot consume alcoholic beverages due to their occupation. In all other respects, non-alcoholic beer is no different from regular beer. Yes, its taste may be slightly different, since alcohol also affects the taste, but the composition of the foamy drink does not change.

The non-alcoholic version is produced by membrane or other filtration methods for conventional beers. Only alcohol is removed, all other useful and harmful substances remain in the drink. Therefore, the harm of non-alcoholic beer depends on the volume of its consumption.

If you drink liters of non-alcoholic beer every day, health problems will not take long. Because of the yeast and hops in the composition, any beer is harmful in large quantities. But if you use it in moderate doses – no more than 0.5 liters per day, taking a break 2-3 times a week, nothing bad will happen.

Non-alcoholic beer is harmful to pregnant women and people with chronic diseases of the kidneys, nervous and cardiovascular systems. Primarily due to preservatives, stabilizers and other chemicals in the composition.