Before there were grape presses, there were feet. In earlier times, wine grapes were crushed by people stomping on the grapes.

You may have seen the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy takes a shot at it.

Now, we take you even farther back, to the time of the ancient Incas, who lived in the mountains of Peru.

They brewed chicha, their beer, not from barley as we do (they didn’t have barley), but from purple maize (they had plenty of it).

How did they break down the corn [photo #] so that it would ferment? By chewing it, to break down the hard endosperm.

Now, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware is bringing back their own chicha [photo #1], which they first brewed in 2009. It is, they say, “an extreme beer.”

More than 100 Dogfish Head coworkers convened at a company-wide event, to prepare the beer’s main ingredient: chewed purple maize.

Each attendee was given a cup of purple corn to chew up and spit out, to contribute to the brew.

Small communities in Peru still produce chicha the way their Inca ancestors did, from masticated maize.

There, the chewed corn kernels are naturally fermented in large clay pots, often flavored with indigenous fruits and spices.

Dogfish Head produced their version with malted corn (maize) plus malted barley.

What about all that saliva?

The wort is boiled for full sterilization (here’s the conventional beer-making process).

It is then chilled, blended with strawberries and fermented with a unique blend of yeast strains.

Dogfish Head chicha has an 3.1% ABV with fruity, spicy aromas and a dry finish.


Dogfish Head Chicha Beer
[1] Walk like an Egyptian, but drink like an Inca (photo courtesy Dogfish Head).

Purple Maize
[2] Purple maize. You can grow your own with seeds from Rare Seeds.

It may be hard to get a bottle (but there’s a way—see below). Dogfish is releasing just 200 750ml bottles in the Tasting Room of its Milton, Delaware brewery, on March 10 at 11 a.m. Fans of the brewery line up; first come, first served.

There’s a limit of 2 bottles per person. The beer will also be available on tap at the Tasting Room, “while supplies last.”

Road trip?


Book an overnight stay at the Dogfish Inn on Thursday, March 8th, guaranteeing that you can buy two bottles of Chicha at the Milton brewery on March 9.

Reserve your Inn package online using the code “CHICHA!” in the special request section, or by calling the INN and mentioning the promotion during booking.

BTW, don’t plan to give the chicha as Christmas gifts to your favorite beer lover. Chicha is a beer that should be enjoyed fresh; each bottle has a “drink by” date.


THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food

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