Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chicha, The Ancient Beer

Chicha is the term that South Americans and Spanish give to a fermented drink, usually their version of beer.  It can be made from maize, root or various fruits, and sometimes spit!  Spaniards even use the word "chical" which means spit or saliva.  Our own saliva can be an effective means for converting grains to fermentable sugars.  Beers made from salivated roots and grains had been brewed in Central and South America long before the time of the Incas. The people of the Amazon basin brewed a beer called masato from dried, roasted and chewed manioc root a thousand years before the conquest. Other indigenous beers were brewed from salivated quinoa, algaroba (seeds of the carob tree), and various fruits and vegetables.

One of my anthropology professors in college stayed with an indigenous tribe in Honduras where they still practiced making chicha and it was a daily staple to their diet.  He said that they were some of the healthiest and fit individuals he's ever seen and he said that drinking chicha was a contributing factor.  They used healthy, fresh ingredients and maybe something in human saliva creates a cleansing fact.  Who knows.

Dogfish Head beer is re-creating the Chicha brew, to make their most unique and exotic beer yet.  They are even using human saliva.  Definitely worth a try!  Cheers!

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