Peru is famous for its corn or choclo. Many things can be made from corn but the most infamous has to be the corn-based beer, chicha. Chicha is peru’s local beer. Like it or hate it, you have to at least try it if you are in Peru.
There are 2 kind of Chicha:
Chicha Morada is the purple, sweat, non alcoholic drink that many restaurants in Peru serves. It is very good.
Chicha de jora is the fermented corn beer that used to be fermented with saliva but now malted barley is used. It tastes like sour beer.
In the towns and villages of the Andes, getting drunk on chicha is a popular pastime – particularly during the holidays. Chicha can be found all over peru, in any door that has a red flag or red plastic bags. It is very cheap and to our surprise, a glass of Chicha in the Sacred Valley area cost only S./0.50 or around USD $0.20.
As is common in other parts of the world, Andean people realized they could use saliva to activate the fermentation process, making the partial chewing & spitting out of corn kernels the first step in the chicha brewing process. In ancient time, small group of women would chew the corn, mixed with saliva in the mouth and then spat out and stored for fermentation. In modern time, malted barley is used for fermentation as common with other beer brewing processes. But perhaps this old technique may still be used in remote and rural area (and perhaps in the one Chicheria we tried).
To many, Chicha may take sometime to get used to. We think it tasted nothing more than sour beer. A few more glasses of it will start getting you drunk and you will then surely have acquired the taste. Often the local fermentation processes may be unsanitary, so try it at your own risk.
But if your stomach are strong enough, Chicha is one of the best way to make new friends with the locals and to experience the genuine Peruvian culture.
Use the comments box below to tell us about your Chicha experiences, or any questions you have!