From the first moment that early humans reached for fermented fruit on the forest floors, mankind has invented unique methods for developing potent alcoholic drinks, many of which hold a spiritual or a social purpose. For example, the Aztec King Montezuma reputedly housed millions of cocoa beans in his storerooms to make a fermented chocolate drink, dyed blood red to honor the gods. Likewise, the Celts and Thracians consumed excessive amounts of pungent wines to open portals to the spirit world and seek communion with the gods. In the same manner, a group of ancient South American tribes also drank excessive amounts of a potent alcoholic beverage to establish friendship and respect. Let’s take a closer look at the interesting history of the South American beverage called “chicha.”
At some point during 5,000 B.C., people living in the Andes region of South America developed the potent chicha drink, which was developed through an unconventional method of brewing. Typically, people would chew pieces of fruits or grains and spit the pulp and juices into a large pot. Once it reached a heavy boil, the mixture was poured into pots to ferment, ultimately producing the musky chicha, one of the earliest forms of beer.
Overall, chicha was not exclusive to a single South American nation. Instead, the recipe was improvised and perfected by multiple groups including the Aztecs and the Incas. However, these groups not only valued the drink as a means of payment (in the early economy) but also respected its highly intoxicating properties. Many Andean tribes believed drunkenness was a way to open a gateway to the spirit world and communicate with the universe.
A True American Beer
During ancient times, corn was an important crop for the Inca nations, who developed massive farms to develop the plant for the production of chicha (a symbol of social importance). Even today, the drink is still highly regarded by Central and South American societies, and the process of brewing the plant is considered an honorable event.
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