A new fad brewing: ancestral beer you can ferment at home

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A new fad brewing comes from ancient experiments in Africa around 4,000 B.C.

Ancestral beer is a new unpasteurized alcohol from once upon a time when Egyptians transformed malt and yeast into humanity’s first booze. 

Did you know beer is basically liquid cereal?

"I can make a beer out of rice, out of wheat and quinoa," Florencia Juárez Marrades, a 26-year-old Argentinian expert in ancestral beer, told Vice.

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The sugars in types of fungi like yeast convert into beer through the chemical process of fermentation.

"Some dogs are bloodhounds, others are guard dogs. Yeasts are similarly varied," Juárez added. "If we want to ferment alcohol, the type of yeast used has to be one that thrives in very sugary environments."

Homebrewing across the world has exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Our industry in a recession does well because not as many people are working, people are more cost-conscious and they have time on their hands," David Stuart, national sales manager for Ohio-based LD Carlson, a wholesale distributor of beer- and winemaking supplies, told The Associated Press.

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Raw beer, perhaps best left to the professionals, omits the modern pasteurization process.

"If you want to sell something on a large scale, you’ve got to have a standard flavor that’s replicable from one bottle to the next," Juárez said. "Whereas, with a wild beer, no two are ever the same."

Her quest: to bring the old world into modern times. 

"We’ve brought flavors that were being left behind back to life," she said. 

Ancestral beer is determined by the type of yeast used as the main ingredient.  

"We only use wild yeasts, cultivated from ingredients you have in the house," Juárez explained. 

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Here is a quick and easy homebrew recipe for ancestral beer:

  • Ingredients: approximately 2,500ml of filtered or mineral water and between 800g and 1kg of pure, raw honey.
  • Thin the honey and water in a glass jar covered, but not hermetically sealed, with a cloth or towel.
  • Oxygenate the beer twice every day to multiply the yeasts in the honey.
  • In the middle of day 12 and 15, an alcohol smell should emerge: check its lack of sweetness.
  • It’s ready now and the ancestral beer should contain around 4 percent alcohol by volume: as intoxicating as a standard session ale.
  • Enjoy!

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