When you consider how long human beings have been making alcohol, you might be astounded to see the variety of drinks that have been invented. For 9,000 years and counting, mankind has developed some pretty interesting concoctions made from flavorful, exotic, or downright bizarre ingredients. While Ancient Greeks dedicated their time to crafting fine wines for revelry, the Egyptian rulers were developing a bonafide brewery empire to feed their pyramid builders. Even today, the ancient Andean chicha beer and chocolate liquors are popular social additives, while the Mongolian koumiss (made from fermented mare’s milk) is thriving in Asian markets. Traditional brewing and excessive drinking still play significant roles in cultural gatherings and spiritual awakening, as shown in the continuing tradition of tribal beer brewing in Africa. Let’s take a closer look at the history of sorghum beer.
Long before the Europeans brought their version of the drink, the Ancient Egyptians had popularized the concept of beer brewing in Africa and had even developed a full-scale industry to feed their society. Throughout the centuries, traditional methods have been passed down from father to son through tribal rankings. Ultimately, though, European influence did play a major role in African brewing altogether.
Regardless, traditional brewing techniques still thrive across Africa. Besides the umbrella of commercialized tribal beers, people still employ the old practices to create a beer for local markets. Likewise, this alcoholic drink continues to play a key role in tribal ceremonies and cultural events.
Beer of Africa
From chibiku in South Africa to shake-shake in Malawi and Zambia, sorghum beer comes in multiple forms and is still revered as the traditional beer of Africa. Also labeled an “opaque beer,” the drink contains a variety of ingredients, a mixture based on the widely dispersed traditions of multiple tribes. Likewise, its root ingredient sorghum (a variety of wild grass) is highly revered for its hardiness and durability in times of drought. Overall, tasters have described sorghum beer as cloudy and yeasty, with a distinctive sour aftertaste.
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