Author Topic: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question  (Read 4852 times)

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2011, 01:14:44 AM »
Lennie makes some good points aboiut learning the brewing side of your question.  Then once you have a good idea of what residue is on the pottery, you might want to do a recreation.  There are many, many breweries along the Front Range in Colorado.  One would think one of those might say yes to doing a recreation of an indigenous/ancient beer. 

You can do some serious academic work, and have some fun at the end with a beer no one has had in ages.
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Offline timberati

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2011, 02:32:51 AM »
I was warned that the opinions of home brewers may not be pertient given that here in the New World in prehistoric times folks did not have access to yeasts (except that provided by women who chew the corn and spit it into the mix), lacked any sources of sugar (with the exception of natural sugars present in green corn stalks or other plants)  and probably in their isolation developed what must appear as very odd approach to creating alchohol.

I would disagree, given the number of posts that have appeared so soon after starting this post.  Thank you, and please remember that I hope to find a post that details the steps that a corn farmer would have taken to create corn beer in a ceramic pot (theoretically is fine if no one has actually tried to replicate that technology).

What an incredible and fun project.

The Dogfish episode on the brewing of Chicha is available on iTunes for $2. Also, you might find this video of Sam Calagione explaining Chicha useful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSXpLjewfMo

Sam can be reached through their website.
http://www.dogfish.com/contact-us.htm  I think he used to answer email personally. That may not be the case anymore. Yet, you're a much different case than simple fan mail.

The chewing by the women simply provided the enzymes that break down the complex starches into simple fermentable sugars that the yeasts could then eat. The early brewers didn't know about yeast, they only knew what worked. In fact, the "Beer Purity Law" or the "Bavarian Purity Law" of 1516 does not mention yeast in the ingredients for beer, yet beer (or wine or any other alcoholic drink) can not be made without them. The yeast probably hung out in the fissures and cracks of the clay pots. When the brewer had a good clay pot that produced the beer she liked, no doubt she kept it and guarded it because it had the magic to make the beer.

Chapter One of Tom Standage's book, A History of the World in Six Glasses, starts with beer in ancient Egypt. It's well written and very informative.

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Offline timberati

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2011, 02:47:07 AM »
European brewers normally DO boil their wort (pre-fermented beer), it is just not necessary and might not apply to prehistoric European brewers.  Certainly some styles are not necessarily boiled even today (Berliner Weisse), but that is the exception not the norm.  Some are also boiled extensively.

Again, saliva does not contribute yeast to the brew, saliva contributes enzymes to convert the starch to sugar.

Yeast is ubiquitous, it would be on the corn and in the pots and on the sticks they used to stir it.  Adding yeast intentionally was not required for making beer, it was either added without knowing what they were doing or it was already present along with a variety of other microorganisms that would contribute to the final flavor of the beverage.

If you follow the links above you will find some reference for how tiswin was made.  This one seems especially good:
http://food.oregonstate.edu/glossary/t/tiswin.html

In this case, they are sprouting the corn - this is malting and it will cause the kernels to create enzymes to convert the starch to sugar.  The plant is doing this so it can grow, but they stop the process via drying and then ground it up.  This was boiled, which would have killed off any organisms on the malted corn.  It would also concentrate the mixture and create some flavor components.  After it was cooled, flour and sweetener were added - the flour would contain yeast to help it ferment, the sweetener would probably ferment too depending on the sugar source and yeast.  With only a 12 hour ferment it was very likely to be low alcohol.
+1 The short fermentation period would also mean that yeast would still be in suspension and their presence would add vital protein and vitamins to the drink.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2011, 04:55:55 AM »
It's a good thing I'm behind on reading Zymurgy . . . there is an article in the May/June issue about several indigenous beverages, one of which is called tesguino.  The similarities in the name and the procedure described lead me to think it is the same beverage.

It is still being made by the Tarahumara people of Mexico, so it might be worth a trip if you are really interested.  Or it is another source of information at least.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2011, 08:50:21 AM »
Now, IANAC (I am not a Chemist) but with the "sooted pastes" bit I'm quite surprised that at least tschmidlin didn't mention nixtamalization. According to Wikipedia, it's been around in Mesoamerica since at least 1500 BCE. The same wikipedia article references enzymatic nixtamalization, which "uses protease enzymes to accelerate the changes that occur in traditional nixtamalization." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixtamalization]

This needs a lot more research to back up, but if I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that the containers were used to boil raw maize with a wood ash paste to nixtamalize them, then left to open ferment (magic yeast stick method).

I don't know what the diastatic/enzymatic power of maize is, but it could also be possible that a sort of proto-chicha was produced with this method - de-husked maize would be way, way easier to chew than raw.

See what I'm sayin'?

This could be a really interesting experiment. Tschmidlin, I have some lye and can probably get raw maize somewhere. Should we try for an experiment?
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2011, 04:30:48 PM »
As far as I understand it, the sooted pastes were on the outside of the pots, not the inside.

That being said, I totally think you should do an experiment.  I've been thinking about getting some raw maize and trying it too, although without the lye.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline richardt

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2011, 05:37:33 PM »
As far as I understand it, the sooted pastes were on the outside of the pots, not the inside.

That being said, I totally think you should do an experiment.  I've been thinking about getting some raw maize and trying it too, although without the lye.

Another possibility is Naan or Flatbread which, as you may already know, is formed and then stuck on the inside walls of the tandoori oven or on the outsides of clay pots (in Mexican and Latin cultures).  Either route gives you dry heat and a hot cooking surface.

Another possibility is the person who handled the pot was also responsible for handling the corn-based product.  Cooks hands often get messy.

Offline weithman5

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2011, 06:50:53 PM »
not knowing the general health of the population.  many of those spitters into the wort may have low grades of thrush.  i am not sure if candida is a fungus that can ferment  :D
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Offline timberati

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2011, 10:06:09 PM »
In his book, A History of the World in 6 Glasses, Tom Standage writes, "To neolithic drinkers, beer's ability to intoxicate and induce a state of altered consciousness seemed magical. So, too, did the mysterious process of fermentation, which transformed ordinary gruel into beer. The obvious conclusion was that beer was a gift from the gods; accordingly, many cultures have myths that explain how the gods invented beer and then showed humankind how to make it. The Egyptians, for example, believe that beer was accidentally discovered by Osiris, the God of agriculture and king of the afterlife. One day he prepared a mixture of water and sprouted grain, but forgot about it and left it in the sun. He later returned to find the gruel had fermented, decided to drink it, and was so pleased with the result that he passed his knowledge on the humankind. (This tale seems to tally closely with the way beer was probably discovered in the stone age.) Other beer drinking cultures tell similar stories."

I wonder what tale was told about the tizwin beer?
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Offline timberati

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2011, 08:38:02 PM »
Here's a South African beer that uses either sorghum or corn: http://beervana.blogspot.com/2011/08/traditional-south-african-utwala-beer.html. The brewing process may parallel what is being searched for.
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Offline redpotter

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Re: Corn Beer Boiling and Fermentation Question
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2011, 05:12:33 PM »
The link provided by Norm about South African beer making really filled in an empty slot in my developing model for brewing prehistoric maize beer.  Thanks to you all for the information about sprouting, drying and grinding the (malted) kernels, followed by women chewing and spitting into the batch in order to add the enzyme needed to begin to break down the starches.  The various natural sources of yeast and the resulting fermentation cap formed by the addition of flour all makes sense.  However, the addition of sweeteners (such as sorghum) continued to bother me until an archaeologist friend of mine (somewhat of an expert in the glycemic index of food products) relayed that maize contains a lot of sugar, probably enough to negate having to add unavailable sweeteners.

He further suggested that I make up a few large, constricted necked jars so we can initiate a replication program.  I just happen to have about a hundred pounds of dried Hopi blue corn kernels from a corn field experiment my wife and I did years ago as well as a motorized corn grinder.  We will see.

And finally, sorry about using terminology without its definition.  As a ceramic analylist, I look at thousands of broken pieces of pottery (sherds) under a microscope.  The paste is the combination of clay and temper (an aplastic such as sand or ground up rock) that makes up the clay body that I see in cross section.  Because all cooking was done over campfire coals and the earthenware clay body is quite porous, the free carbon from the fire penetrates the vessel wall, resulting in sooted pastes that can only be burned out by refiring those sherds to 950 degrees C in full oxidation.  Sooted pastes, and the companion carbon encrustation on the exterior surface of the vessel are commonly observed on cooking (utility ware) jars.  However, the jars in question are polished serving ware (serving and ceremonial) vessels, which they almost never used for cooking.  My answer to the conumdrum (supported by the co-occurrence of pitted interior surfaces) was that the vessels were being used for ceremonial purposes - what is more ritual than brewing and drinking beer, even weak, sour beer?