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According to this blog posting, birch sap is very popular in Russia as a drink. Further, I read in wikipedia that it is popular enough to be bottled and sold commercially.

Finally, (and most importantly) I found this article in the Guardian, detailing the steps to take in order to enjoy fermented birch sap (AKA 'birch wine').

Has anyone tried this, and if so would they relate how successful the attempt was?

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This would probably be better suited on – DHayes Jul 26 '11 at 20:16
@ESultanik I wish you had written as an answer, rather than a comment. I just wanted to know what birch sap was like to drink, any comments on fermented birch sap would be a bonus. – Doug Jul 27 '11 at 12:36
@Doug: Ah, okay. I thought you were more interested in what it's like when it's fermented. I'll convert my comments to an answer (I also have some more to add!). – ESultanik Jul 27 '11 at 12:39
look at my comment to the answer – noncom Jun 8 at 9:01
Doesn't "successful" in conjunction with "as a tonic" (unless "as a substitute for "tonic water" is intended) imply a health-related question? – rackandboneman Jun 8 at 15:05
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I've tried unfermented birch sap before (I got it at a local Russian supermarket). I was expecting it to taste somewhat like Birch Beer. Instead, it was surprisingly tasteless; like maple, I suspect one would have to reduce/concentrate it quite significantly to get a pronounced birch flavor. It had the taste and consistency of a thin/diluted simple syrup with only a faint hint of birch flavor.

I made a cocktail using birch sap and ROOT: a liquor modeled after a pre-temperance liquor called "root tea" that was the predecessor to root beer (which is, ironically, non-alcoholic), one of whose primary flavorings is birch bark. I forget what else (if anything) I put in it, but I seem to recall that it worked quite well.

I asked a Russian friend of mine if he had ever heard of fermented birch sap. He said that, although birch sap ("берёзовый сок", if you ever want to find it in a Russian store) is very popular in Russia, he has never heard of anyone fermenting it. However, he did add that "Russians would ferment anything…"

On a somewhat related note (at the risk of going off topic), there is an extremely popular low-alcohol drink in Russia called kvas (квас) which is made from fermented rye bread. Despite the fact that birch sap is also popular, every Russian for whom I've served root beer or birch beer absolutely hates the stuff. Likewise, I love root/birch beer, however, I hated kvas the first time I tried it (but I have since developed a taste for it, over time). I have developed this theory:

Anyone who liked the taste of kvas the first time he/she tried it will undoubtedly dislike the taste of root/birch beer the first time he/she tries it. Likewise, Anyone who liked the taste of root/birch beer the first time he/she tried it will undoubtedly dislike the taste of kvas the first time he/she tries it.

I have surveyed dozens of Eastern Europeans and Americans alike who have tried both, and I have yet to find a single person that invalidates my theory. Is there anyone out there who has tried both?

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Well, I live in Russia and tried both. I can say that birch sap is almost tasteless, like a slightly sugared water with some weak flavour (think weak cool roibos), while kvas has a very strong and characteristic taste. Birch sap is very good for your health while for kvas that's highly debatable. Today you can buy b.s. but you really have to know where. Kvas is sold almost anywhere you can find Coca-Cola (though sometimes a totaly synthetic thing). As for tonic properties of b.s., I think it's something like roibos too. – noncom Jun 8 at 8:59
Birch sap is different than American-style root/birch beer. You are correct that birch sap is almost tasteless, however, root beer and birch beer have a very strong and characteristic taste. – ESultanik Jun 8 at 15:23
Beer yes, it has much more taste I think, but I don't drink alcohol, so can't say anything from myself :) I think that a recognizable rich taste is a must-have for beer :) – noncom Jun 8 at 15:26
Despite their names, modern birch beer and root beer is almost never alcoholic. – ESultanik Jun 8 at 15:28
rightieee.. okay, found a shop for the root beer here :) gonna try it sometime soon I hope :) – noncom Jun 9 at 0:25

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