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Native Beer: A Guide to Indigenous Beer Around the World

Mbege (Beer)

At one point or another, all beer was native.

It was regional. Indigenous. Communal. Domestic.

Nearly all cultures have their own version of beer based on whatever grain was around in the area at the time.  In Asia it was often rice, in Europe barley or wheat, millet in Africa, and in the Americas maize was common.  The only universally consistent components found in beer were grain, water, yeast and/or bacteria.  The widespread use of hops in beer is only a historically recent occurrence beginning in about the 11th century in Europe, which is partly why hops as an ingredient is not typical seen in indigenous beer around the world.

And with the craft beer renaissance in full swing at least in the U.S., don’t be surprised if you happen across one of these exotic brews in the near future as modern brewers rediscover native beer.  Dogfish Head already did a take on at least one of the old school brews below, but the truth is that you don’t have to wait for Dogfish Head to revive these not so well known brews— some of these traditional beers are so user-friendly, you could make them in our own home today!

First we’ll look at an old Slavic beer, then jump over to the New World for a few native treats, and finally swing back around to Africa to check out some tribal beers.

Or you can do a choose-your-own-adventure tour and skip to whatever region interests you most by clicking below.

Native Slavic Beer

Native Beer of the Americas

African Native Beer

The Top 30ish Things Homebrewers Hate about Homebrewing

On the surface of it, the title “The Top 30ish Things Homebrewers Hate about Homebrewing” may sound somewhat divisively discouraging, especially to those beginning brewers or to the adventurous souls thinking about picking up the brew kettle and joining the ranks.  But don’t be put off.  Let me assure you, homebrewing is one of the most fulfillingly humanizing crafts in which one can engage, and the rewards of creating the greatest beverage in existence with your own two hands far outweigh the unavoidable toils of the brewer.

The impetus behind this oh-please-not-another-internetlist materialized out of a rant topic that was started under the homebrewing forum on the sometimes controversial social news website reddit, where fellow homebrewers were polled on the things that irked them the most about their hobby.  Despite the homebrewer’s general ‘pint is half-full’ disposition, within minutes, the conversation spiraled into an all-out gripefest of sorts, proving that not even homebrewers are immune to the cathartic zen-ness that can only be attained through a group bitch session.

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How to Brew Fruit Beer: The Case of the Disappearing Fruit

As girly as they may seem to some, fruit beers can kick your ass in the brewhouse.  With few exceptions, fruit beer is one of the most difficult styles of beer to brew right, so if you have yet to sample a good example of a delicious commercial fruit beer, this is probably why.  And if the pros are struggling with this style of beer, just imagine how much more of a headache brewing an incredible fruit beer is for the homebrewer.

We’ve all heard that the key to any good beer is balance, and nowhere does this hold more true than with fruit beer: the ultimate Goldilocks challenge.  When it comes to fruit beer though, you might think that the biggest worry for the brewer is packing too much of a fruity punch into the beer so that it ends up tasting less like fruit beer, and more like fruit soda.  But the truth is that for most of us, it’s exactly the opposite.  Imagine the letdown after going through all the trouble of selecting the finest, ripest, juiciest fruit, properly preparing said fruit, and then spending the extra time and money to ferment it, only to have all of that brilliant fruit character and sweetness simply vanish.  This is one of the most common and frustrating problems faced by many a brewer when set with the task of brewing a stunning fruit beer using real fruit, a problem which I affectionately refer to as the case of the disappearing fruit, and one that is a particular threat to the keg-challenged homebrewer who is limited to bottling only.

I’m not going to lie: If you don’t have a kegging setup, the chips are stacked against you if you’re dreaming of brewing a brilliantly balanced, appropriately sweet, fruit beer.  It’s not impossible, but it’s an uphill battle and you’re going to need all the help you can get.

So let’s get to it.

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