In other words, they spit in the beer

September 9th, 2009 | Posted by Real Beer

A New York Times writer ventures to Delaware to help Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery make a batch of chicha, a traditional Latin American corn beer.

And in order to follow an authentic Peruvian method as closely as possible, the corn would be milled and moistened in the chicha maker’s mouth.

In other words, they spit in the beer.

It’s a great story, if not a great beer. Reporter Joyce Wadler even found some experts to taste the final product.

The musicians of Agua Clara, an Andean band whose members come from Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Japan (hey, it’s New York), were asked to weigh in. They were playing in Times Square on a hot day last week. They smiled broadly as the cool chicha was poured. Then they tasted it and three made faces.

“This is not chicha,” Angel Marin (Ecuador) and two others said, almost simultaneously.

“It tastes like beer,” said Yanko Valdes (Chile).

“It’s supposed to be sweeter,” said Martin Estel (Peru). “It’s not bad though.”

Asked about the chewing and spitting method, Mr. Marin said that it was “old school — in the jungle.”

He also made a suggestion: “You want chicha, you should go to Queens, or any Peruvian or Chilean restaurant.”

And you don’t have to wonder whose mouth the ingredients have been in.

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