"Chicha" is beer made from corn. Any variety (or
several varieties) of corn can be used - the color of the corn
will impact the color of the beer. Traditionally, the chicha
brewing process was begun by grinding the selected corn into
meal, moistening the meal slightly with water, then rolling it
into a ball. The meal balls were then placed in the mouth and
worked with the tongue until completely saturated with saliva.
This is the method chicha brewers traditionally used to convert
the starches in the corn into fermentable sugars. After being
worked in the mouth, the meal balls were then allowed to dry in
the sun. To make the chicha, the meal balls are added to
unmalted corn meal in a ratio of 2-to-1. Occasionally, pulp from
the local squash or prickly pear cactus fruit was added.
Finally, the mixture is boiled in a complex boiling process
before being transferred to clay pots for spontaneous
"Tesguino" is chicha made from malted maize
rather than maize made from saliva-converted corn meal. Tesguino
is brewed throughout Mexico and South America. To germinate
corn, soak 2 pounds of corn in cold water for 24 hours, then
transfer it to a colander for germination. Spray cold water on
the corn and turn it in the colander twice a day to prevent it
from drying out or getting moldy. Within 5 days, the corn should
have germinated to the point that sprouts have reached 2 inches
in length. When they do, remove the corn from the colander and
allow it to dry in the sun or in the oven on its lowest setting.
The following is a recipe for tesguino as brewed by the
Tarahumara Indians of Mexico.
8 quarts water
1 pound germinated corn
2 cups brown sugar
8 whole allspice or cloves
Crush the corn coarsely then place it in the
brewpot with the water and let it sit for 1 hour.
Bring the wort to a boil, then add the
Reduce the heat and allow the wort to simmer
for 3 hours stirring regularly.
Add the spices at the and of the boil and
allow the wort to sit for 1 hour.
Strain the wort into a fermenter once cool
and pitch the yeast.
Ferment at 65º-70ºF for 5 days, then rack to
a secondary and allow to ferment for 2 more weeks.
Bottle with 1 teaspoon corn sugar per bottle
for priming and allow to condition for 2 weeks before