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9 strange brews from around the world

By: Josh Lew on Nov. 4, 2014, 10:48 a.m.
Milking the mares

Photo: Scott Presly/flickr

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Most alcoholic beverages are made using grains, fruits, vegetables or sap. Kumis, also known as airag, popular in Mongolia and Central Asia, relies solely on dairy products. Traditionally made using only mare's milk, mass-produced versions of kumis use fortified cow's milk. This is because horse milk cannot be collected on a mass scale. In rural areas of Mongolia, traditional methods and ingredients are still used.

Mare's milk has more sugars than other types of dairy, so fermentation can occur naturally. Occasionally, stirring or churning is needed to keep the milk on its path to fermentation without spoiling. Kumis is not a strong drink. The alcohol content ranges from 1 percent to 2.5 percent. However, the finished product is sometimes distilled to make the much-stronger Mongolian arkhi, which has a 12 percent alcohol content.