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9 strange brews from around the world

By: Josh Lew on Nov. 4, 2014, 10:48 a.m.
Chicha

Photo: Ryan McFarland/flickr

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Chicha

Chicha is the most unusual beverage on our list. Native to Peru, it is a sour beerlike drink usually made from corn. You may have heard of this strange brew, even if you haven't tried it. In the past, chicha was made with an unusual process. Early brewers realized that chewing the corn activated the fermentation process — saliva breaks down the grain’s starches. After chewing it, the brewers would spit the corn pulp into a large earthen pot for fermentation.

In other parts of Latin America, different grains and roots, mainly manioc, were chewed and used to make similar drinks (sometimes called cauim). Today, chicha can be found everywhere in Peru. However, the modern version of the beverage is rarely made using the chew-and-spit method. The popular drink, which has about 3 percent alcohol, is now created using malted barley.