Fermented Beverages other than Wine and Beer

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FERMENTED BEVERAGES OTHER THAN WINE AND BEER. Fermented beverages have been produced and consumed all over the world and over a very long time span. Man discovered that sugar solutions of different origins, if left standing rather warm, will start fermenting spontaneously into an alcoholic beverage that also often contains lactic acid. The requisite microorganisms, Saccaromyces yeasts and Lactobacillus bacteria, are abundant almost everywhere and will do their duty, producing alcohol and lactic acid. A similar fermentation process of animal and vegetable foods is the lactic-acid fermentation that yields, for instance, sour herring in Sweden, and sauerkraut.

Fermented beverages can be divided into two groups, wines and beers, broadly defined. Wines are fermented from various fruit juices containing fermentable sugars. Beers come from starch-containing products, which undergo enzymatic splitting by diastase, malting, and mashing, before the fermentable sugars become available for the yeasts and bacteria. The enzymatic splitting of the starch can also be performed either by human saliva, containing amylases, or by molds. Narrowly defined, beer is barley beer and wine is grape wine.

Detailed information on fermented beverages all over the world can be found in Hardwick and colleagues (1995, 6368), Steinkraus (1979), Arnold (1911), and Campbell-Platt (1987).

Beer from Cereals

Bouza is produced in Egypt and is probably the forerunner of beer in Ancient Egypt. It is prepared from malt of milo (a grain sorghum that resembles millet) and crushed baked loaves of bread. Residue from an earlier fermentation is used as a starter and both lactic-acid bacteria and Saccaromyces are involved in the fermentation process to get this sour alcoholic beverage. Talla from Ethiopia is a very similar to bouza and can be produced from barley and wheat. The bread loaves are heated to give a roasted character, and the pots are fueled by olive wood to give a smoky taste. Talla can also be spiced with hop leaves and stems, and spices.

Wheat beer. Wheat beerand rye and oat beer as wellare frequently made from mixtures of malt and the crushed grains of these cereals with barley. Often the beer is bottled with the yeasts for continued fermentation in the bottle. Wheat beerwhich is top-fermented and thus, technically, an aleis particularly popular in Bavaria and in Belgium and northern Germany, in varieties such as lambic, Gueuze, Wit beer, Trappist beer, and Berliner Weisse.

Rye beer. Rye beers such as kalja and sahti in Finland, similar beverages in the Baltic area, and kvas ("kvass" in English) in Russia are produced in northern and eastern Europe, where cultivation of rye is widespread. Kvas has been the basic beverage for the Russian people for centuries. Its importance is indicated by many proverbs such as "Eat cabbage soup with meat, but if you don't have it, eat bread and kvas. " The use of kvas is documented from about the year 800. Traditionally it is spontaneously fermented. In a broad sense, kvas is any sour and alcoholic fluid made from honey, bread, cereals, birch sap, fruits, beets, or cabbage. Red-beet kvas should always be used to produce borshch ("borscht," in Englishred-beet soup). In a narrow sense, kvas (that is, bread-kvas ) is produced from rye malt with or without other cereals or sour-fermented rye bread as adjuncts, and the beverage is spiced with peppermint. Most of the consumed kvas is of low alcohol content, only some few percent.

Oat beer. Oat beer is today mostly used as an adjunct in certain stouts called oat stouts. A stout is a dark ale, made of roasted malt, which occurs in several varieties such as sweet and dry (Guiness). Oats have also been used in traditional Norwegian beer production.

Rice beer. Another type of cereal beers is made from rice, and these have been produced in all the rice-growing areas of the world. The best-known example is sake from Japan, which has a documented history of more than two thousand years. The principal difference from the malting of barley lies in the koji -process of rice. Koji is a culture of Aspergillus oryzae, which grows on steamed rice, and saccharifies the rice starch (that is, converts it to sugar) and decomposes the rice proteins. The sugar produced in the sake mash is later fermented by the already-present Saccaromyces cerevisiae. The mash is acidified either by adding lactic acid to it or by facilitating the growth of lactic bacteria to form the seed mash, moto. Sake is a clear, pale-yellow liquid with an alcoholic content of about 15 percent and a characteristic estery (artificially fruity) aroma. It is slightly sweet and slightly acidic and has a high amino-acid content compared to wine and beer. Other similar beverages from rice are known from other eastern and southern Asian countries such as China, Thailand, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Another similar fermentation process is performed by the inoculum ragi, present in Southeast Asia. Ragi contains the mold Amylomyces rouxii, the yeast Endomycopsis burtonii, and sometimes Hansenula yeasts; it produces a pleasant alcoholic and acid beverage from rice or cassava, called tape ketan in Malaysia.

Sorghum and millet beer. Sorghum beers, known as kafir beers in Africa, are made from malt from sorghum (Sorghum bicolor ) or from the related grain, millet (Pennisetum typhoides and Eleusine coracana ). Often-used adjuncts are maize (corn), malted or unmalted sorghum or millet, and malt amylase. Lactic acid is used as a flavoring and preserving agent, and the alcoholic fermentation is performed by Saccaromyces. Nowadays, these traditional African beers are not only produced in tribal areas; they are also available in home-brewed urban and industrially produced versions. They are opaque, rather thick pinkish-brown liquids with an estery (artificially fruity) or fruity odor, and a sweet and sour taste.

Maize beer. Tesquino and zendecho from Mexico and Latin America are made from malted maize and spontaneously fermented by Saccaromyces cerevisiae. These beverages might be as ancient as the oldest beers of the Old World, dating back about eight thousand years. Another beer is chicha, made by Andean and Central American Indians. The starchy material is chewed into dough, which is dried and later placed into warm water where the amylase action is finished. Then a starter (a small amount taken from a prior fermentation) is added, and the lactic-acid and alcoholic fermentation begins. Today much of the chicha is made using a maize malt rather than saliva.

Beer from Starch Products

All kinds of starchy items, such as manioc (cassava), potatoes, beets, and various roots, are included in this group. To get fermentable sugars, the starch has to be split either by diastase in malt, by saliva, or by molds, as with rice. In South and Central America, almost all of the traditional beers were originally produced by chewing either the cereal maize or other starchy vegetables. One of the most popular has been the manioc, both the sweet and the bitter; sweet potatoes, mangabeira (Hancornia speciosa ), cashew, Jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora ), pineapples, bananas, and algarroba pods have also been used. In the tropical forest tribes, the favorite manioc beer was prepared as follows:

The roots, cut into think slices, were first boiled, then squeezed and partly chewed by young girls. The mass, impregnated with saliva, was mixed with water and heated again over the fire. The liquid was afterward poured into huge jars, half buried in the ground, covered with leaves, and left two to three days to ferment. A fire was built around the jars to warm the beverage before serving it. Each extended family manufactured its own liquor. When a bout was organized, drinkers went successively to each hut, exhausting the available supply. The women served the liquors in huge calabashes (Steward, vol. 3, 1948, p. 127).

An earlier popular American low-alcoholic beverage is root beer, which consists of an infusion of sarsaparilla, sassafras, spruce, wild cherry, spikenard, wintergreen, and ginger, with sugar and yeast. Today, it is a soft drink containing some of these ingredients at its best; otherwise, it is artificially spiced.

Wine from Fruit and Vegetable Juices

Fruit wine. Fruit wines are produced with almost the same technique as grape wines. Specifically-named fruit wines such as cider (from apples) and perry (from pears) are produced, as well as wines from other fruits. The technical difference between these two groups is the alcohol content5 to 7 percent in the first group and up to 18 percent in the second groupwhich depends on sugar addition.

Tree-sap wine. Saps from various trees have been used to produce alcoholic beverages; examples include maple sap (from Acer saccharum, the sugar maple) in North America, and birch sap (from Betula pubescens, the downy birch) in northern Europe. The manifestation of the symbiosis of yeast and bacteria cultures, which looks like a jellyfish, on the wounds of spring birches has been used in Europe as a folk medicine and is called "Volga-swamp."

Sugarcane wine. Wine made from the sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum, together with molasses, is distilled into rum.

Cactus-plant wines. The tall perennial plants of the genus Agave, which grow in Mexico and nearby areas, give a sweet, slightly bitter sap, called agua miel (literally, honey water), which is fermented into pulque, either spontaneously or through the use of an inoculum from a previous fermentation. The Aztecs were familiar with the product. Pulque is an important food beverage for the poor in the semiarid areas of Mexico. If pulque made from Agave tequilana is distilled, the resultant liquor is called tequila; if pulque made from another agave is distilled, it is called mescal. Before the contacts with the European settlers, only a few American Indian tribes north of Mexico made alcoholic beverages. They were the Akimel O'odham (Pima), Tohono O'odham (Papago), and the River Yuman peoples in southern Arizona and northern Mexico, and they produced wine from the saguaro cactus as well as from the agave and the mesquite. In the East, the Cherokees made wine from persimmons. During an important ceremony in July, the Papagos and the Pimas drank enormous quantities of the wine to induce rainfall in their desert areas.

Sugar-palm wine. Some examples of wines made from palm sap are surra from Borassus flabillifer, toddy and temba from the coconut palm Cocus nucifera (from which arrack is obtained by distillation), malovu from Elaeis guineensis, a kind of undistilled "rum" from Hyphaene coriaca and Hyphaene critina, Phonix reclinata, Raphia pedunculata, and Raohia vinifera.

"Wine" from Animal Sources

Mead. Honey is probably among the first foods gathered by Homo sapiens and its predecessors, and mead, the wine fermented from honey, may well be one of the oldest alcoholic beverages. Honey has also been much used as an adjunct to sweeten many kinds of beers over the centuries. Mead was the drink of the Nordic gods, whereas the people drank beer. The modern methods of production of mead are described by Andrej Jarczyk and W. Wzorek (1977).

Fermented milk. Only milk from human beings and horses has a relatively high concentration of milk sugar (lactose)6.9 percent, in comparison with the 4.9 percent in cow's milkwhich makes it easier to ferment milk from mares than that from cows. People from central Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan) and Mongolia have fermented mare's milk, making the alcoholic beverage kumiss, and it appears that milk from camels, sheep, yaks, and reindeer has been used similarly.

See also Beer ; Fermentation ; Fruit ; Spirits ; Wine.


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