Mesoamerican Corn Beer Discovered on Ancient Teeth

corn-archeology
The ancient city of Casas Grandes (a.k.a. Paquimé) is “a prehistoric archaeological site in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. Construction of the site is attributed to the Mogollon culture. Casas Grandes has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.” It once was home to at least 3,000 people in the 14th century, and was most likely a trade center in its heyday. It was first excavated in the 1950s, and initial finds included hundreds of human remains. It was inhabbited beginning around 1130 CE and hit its peak after 1350 CE, but was inexplicably abandoned a century later by 1450 CE. It’s “regarded as one of the most significant Mogollon archaeological zones in the northwestern Mexico region.”

Paquime1

So you’d think it was pretty well mined for what could be learned from the ancient city. But a team of archeologists from the University of Calgary led by Dr. Anne Katzenberg is using new technologies to examine the plaque on the teeth of hundred sets of human remains, specifically what they call “tooth calculus,” which she says is “fossilized tooth tartar.”

Western Digs, which “is a science news site that investigates the archaeology, anthropology, and paleontology of the American West,” continues the story in First Evidence of Corn Beer in Southwest Discovered on Teeth From Ancient Burials:

“If teeth aren’t cleaned regularly, then the tartar, which can trap pretty much anything in it, such as algae, plants, fungus, or fibers, will slowly mineralize with everything stuck in it and turn into calculus, while the microremains turn into microfossils.”

To get at this microscopic evidence, the team recovered tartar from the remains of 110 people found within the ancient city and from other sites in the Casas Grandes River valley, all buried between 700 and 1450 CE.

Of those 110 samples, 63 yielded some sort of microscopic remains.

But what they’ve concluded is that there was a lot of corn beer being consumed, but more importantly “what archaeologists say is the first conclusive evidence of corn beer in the Greater Southwest.”

Paquime-Casas-Grandes-Pottery-Ceramic-Figurine

Here’s more from First Evidence of Corn Beer in Southwest Discovered on Teeth From Ancient Burials:

Three of the samples revealed granules of maize that bore the unmistakable signs of fermentation, he said — including swelling and fragmentation caused by being heated at three distinct temperatures, and striations created by the fermenting process.

These bloated, broken grains seem to be the result of making chicha — a corn beer whose use has been recorded in Central and South America for as much as 5,000 years, King said.

In those cultures, brewing and consuming chicha is thought to have held ceremonial value, but it may have held other functions as well, he noted.

“We don’t have enough information to determine [chicha’s] use,” King said.

“Based on ethnographic accounts, we default to ‘ritual’, although I always think that’s a cop-out answer.

“We know modern groups used corn beer or similar drinks in religious ceremonies, so that’s all we can go off of.”

In addition, King noted, the burial contexts of the samples haven’t yet been analyzed, so archaeologists can’t yet draw conclusions about whether beer consumption was limited, for example, to a certain social class.

Moreover, he added, this is the first “substantial evidence” of corn beer in the Greater Southwest, so it’s possible that chicha may have served a different function in Casas Grandes than it did in Mesoamerica.

When it comes to beer in the southwestern archaeological record, he said, “almost nothing exists for northern Mexico or the American Southwest. The results we posted may be the first of their kind for this region.”

King’s new findings, then, raise the question of how the custom of brewing corn beer arrived at Casas Grandes, as well as when, and by whom.

“The best archaeological evidence we have for corn beer and other alcoholic drinks comes from Peru or Mesoamerica,” King said.

“So, if anything, the idea for corn fermentation came up from the south, but that is still conjecture at this point.”

As for when beer came to town, his findings do provide some insights.

His team studied teeth dating back as far as the year 700, but the fermented granules were only detected on remains dated to the so-called Medio Period of Casas Grandes — a cultural heyday that spanned from about 1200 CE to 1450 CE — suggesting that chicha might have been a relatively recent phenomenon.

“Our results show that maize was used throughout various time periods, but evidence for maize fermentation only comes from the Medio period,” he said.

“This is not to say such use did not exist in the [earlier] period, only that our results don’t currently support that idea.”

But whether it was brewed, chewed, or cooked, the corn of Casas Grandes may, in time, teach us volumes, not just about diet, but also about the social interactions that shaped one of the most important cultural crossroads in ancient North America.

“The continuity of maize use throughout the two time periods is important,” King said.

“It may suggest a continuity of people, thereby supporting an in situ development.

“Turning maize into beer during the Medio period, however, could suggest an influx of new ideas — or perhaps even people — during that time, which might indicate outside influence — either foreigners coming to Casas Grandes, or locals traveling and coming back with new ideas.”

Beer In Film #30: All Beer TV Visits Anderson Valley

brookston-film
Today’s beer video is from All Beer TV, a production of SaboresTv in Argentina. As such, most of it’s in Spanish. The show features a visit to Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville. But even though it’s in Spanish, don’t worry. Stick with it, at around the 1:30 mark, brewmaster Fal Allen starts speaking, in English, so you’ll be able to figure it out. You may get more out of it if you’re bilingual, but either way he’s the one talking for most of the 24-minute video.

ALL BEER TV 10 MP4 1024 PAL Download from Saborestv on Vimeo.

Suriname Beer

suriname
Today in 1975, Suriname gained their Independence from the Netherlands.

Suriname
suriname-color

Suriname Breweries

Suriname Brewery Guides

Other Guides

Guild: None Known

National Regulatory Agency: None

Beverage Alcohol Labeling Requirements: Not Known

Drunk Driving Laws: BAC 0.08%

suriname

  • Full Name: Republic of Suriname
  • Location: Northern South America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between French Guiana and Guyana
  • Government Type: Constitutional democracy
  • Language: Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes called Taki-Taki, is native language of Creoles and much of the younger population and is lingua franca among others), Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese
  • Religion(s): Hindu 27.4%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), Roman Catholic 22.8%, Muslim 19.6%, indigenous beliefs 5%
  • Capital: Paramaribo
  • Population: 560,157; 170th
  • Area: 163,820 sq km, 92nd
  • Comparative Area: Slightly larger than Georgia
  • National Food: Chicken and Rice
  • National Symbol: Faja Lobi flower
  • Affiliations: UN, OAS
  • Independence: From the Netherlands, November 25, 1975

suriname-coa

  • Alcohol Legal: Yes
  • Minimum Drinking Age: 18
  • BAC: 0.05%
  • Number of Breweries: 1

suriname-money-1

  • How to Say “Beer”: bier
  • How to Order a Beer: Un beer, ahls-yer-bleeft
  • How to Say “Cheers”: Geluch / Gezondheid / Proost / Prut / Santé / Schol
  • Toasting Etiquette: N/A

suriname-map

Alcohol Consumption By Type:

  • Beer: 37%
  • Wine: 2%
  • Spirits: 60%
  • Other: 2%

Alcohol Consumption Per Capita (in litres):

  • Recorded: 5.19
  • Unrecorded: 0.90
  • Total: 6.09
  • Beer: 2.00

WHO Alcohol Data:

  • Per Capita Consumption: 5.2 litres
  • Alcohol Consumption Trend: Increase
  • Excise Taxes: Yes
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Sales Restrictions: No
  • Advertising Restrictions: No
  • Sponsorship/Promotional Restrictions: No

Patterns of Drinking Score: 3

Prohibition: None

suriname-so-amer

Chile Beer

chile
Today in 1818, Chile gained their Independence from Spain.

Chile
chile-color

Chile Breweries

Chile Brewery Guides

Other Guides

Guild: None Known

National Regulatory Agency: Servicio Agricola y Ganadero (SAG)
Ministry of Agriculture
Agriculture and Livestock Service

Beverage Alcohol Labeling Requirements: Yes

Labels must include the following information: Name and description, Bottler name and address, Country of origin, Alcohol content, Distributor name and address, Net volume. Ingredient lists are only required for mixed drinks (i.e., with multiple ingredients)

Drunk Driving Laws: BAC 0.05%

chile

  • Full Name: Republic of Chile
  • Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
  • Government Type: Republic
  • Language: Spanish (official), Mapudungun, German, English
  • Religion(s): Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.1%, other Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3%
  • Capital: Santiago
  • Population: 16,888,760; 59th
  • Area: 756,102 sq km, 38th
  • Comparative Area: Slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana
  • National Food: Empanada, Cazuela, Curanto, and Pastel de choclo
  • National Symbols: Condor, Copihue flower, Lonely Star, Pisco
  • Nickname: La Roja (The Red One)
  • Affiliations: UN, OAS
  • Independence: Declared From Spain, February 12, 1818, Independence Day celebrated September 18, the day the first Junta was installed

Chile_COA

  • Alcohol Legal: Yes
  • Minimum Drinking Age: 18 (Note: The minimum age is 18 for buying and consuming alcohol. Selling alcohol to a minor may attract a fine. One must provide identification upon request. Residents of Chile over the age of 18 must carry their Chilean identification card issued by the Civil Registry and Identification Service at all times.
  • BAC: 0.049%
  • Label Requirements: N/A
  • Number of Breweries: 35

ChileP160-2000-Pesos-2004-donatedta_f

  • How to Say “Beer”: cerveza
  • How to Order a Beer: Una cerveza, por favor
  • How to Say “Cheers”: Salud
  • Toasting Etiquette: Wait for a toast to be made before taking the first sip of your drink. The host makes the first toast. The most common toast is “Salud!” When you lift your glass, look at the person being toasted. If you are toasted, return the favor. In Chile, ‘Salud!’ or ‘Cheers!’ are popular toasts.

    Before taking the first sip of a drink, you say “salud,” which means “to your health,” and be sure to look your host in the eyes. If a formal business proposal is being discussed, a toast is made to the success of the future deal, contract or agreement or to the person or company involved.

chile-map

Alcohol Consumption By Type:

  • Beer: 30%
  • Wine: 38%
  • Spirits: 32%
  • Other: <1%

Alcohol Consumption Per Capita (in litres):

  • Recorded: 6.55
  • Unrecorded: 2.00
  • Total: 8.55
  • Beer: 2.03

WHO Alcohol Data:

  • Per Capita Consumption: 6.6 litres
  • Alcohol Consumption Trend: Stable
  • Excise Taxes: Yes
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Sales Restrictions: N/A
  • Advertising Restrictions: No
  • Sponsorship/Promotional Restrictions: No

Patterns of Drinking Score: 3

Prohibition: None.

chile-sa

Brazil Beer

brazil
Today in 1822, Brazil gained their Independence from Portugal.

Brazil
brazil-color

Brazil Breweries

Brazil Brewery Guides

Other Guides

Guild: Cobracem (Brazilian Brewer Association); Sindicato Nacional Da Cerveja

National Regulatory Agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply (MAPA); National Advertising Regulatory Council (Conselho Nacional de Auto-Regulamentação Publicitária, CONAR)

Beverage Alcohol Labeling Requirements: Labels must include the following information: Name of product; Beverage type (e.g., wine or beer); Importer name and contact information, if applicable; Company identification number; Country of origin; Alcohol content; Net volume (in metric units); Date of production; List food additives; Statement of ingredients.

Drunk Driving Laws: BAC is Zero in theory. De facto persons above 0.02% receive a fine and have their license suspended for 12 months. Above 0.06% is deemed a crime.

brazil

  • Full Name: Federative Republic of Brazil
  • Location: Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean
  • Government Type: Federal Republic
  • Language: Portuguese (official and most widely spoken language); less common languages include Spanish (border areas and schools), German, Italian, Japanese, English, and a large number of minor Amerindian languages
  • Religion(s): Roman Catholic (nominal) 73.6%, Protestant 15.4%, Spiritualist 1.3%, Bantu/voodoo 0.3%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.2%, none 7.4%
  • Capital: Brasília
  • Population: 199,321,413; 5th
  • Area: 8,514,877 sq km, 5th
  • Comparative Area: Slightly smaller than the US
  • National Food: Feijoada
  • National Symbols: Jaguar, Macaw; Ipê-amarelo-da-serra; Tabebuia alba; Southern Cross, Christ the Redeemer; Amazon river
  • Affiliations: UN, OAS
  • Independence: From Portugal, September 7, 1822

brazil-coa

  • Alcohol Legal: Yes
  • Minimum Drinking Age: 18 [Note: Laws regarding possession or consumption of alcohol by minors are hardly enforced, especially if in the company of a parent or guardian, but those regarding selling minors alcohol are harshly imposed by law keepers, and it is law to remember the legal purchase age while advertising alcoholic beverages. ID Card is required for purchase.]
  • BAC: 0.08%
  • Number of Breweries: 218

brazil-money

  • How to Say “Beer”: cerveja
  • How to Order a Beer: Uma cerveja, por favor
  • How to Say “Cheers”: A sua saúde / Saúde (“to your health”) / tim tim
  • Toasting Etiquette: N/A

brazil-map

Alcohol Consumption By Type:

  • Beer: 44%
  • Wine: 1%
  • Spirits: <1%
  • Other: 55%

Alcohol Consumption Per Capita (in litres):

  • Recorded: 6.16
  • Unrecorded: 3.00
  • Total: 9.16
  • Beer: 3.36

WHO Alcohol Data:

  • Per Capita Consumption: 5 litres
  • Alcohol Consumption Trend: Stable
  • Excise Taxes: Yes
  • Minimum Age: 21
  • Sales Restrictions: Time, location
  • Advertising Restrictions: Yes
  • Sponsorship/Promotional Restrictions: No

Patterns of Drinking Score: 3

Prohibition: None.

brazil-so-amer

Uruguay Beer

uruguay
Today in 1825, Uruguay gained their Independence from Brazil.

Uruguay
uruguay-color

Uruguay Breweries

Uruguay Brewery Guides

Other Guides

Guild: None Known

National Regulatory Agency: None

Beverage Alcohol Labeling Requirements: Not Known

Drunk Driving Laws: BAC 0.03%

uruguay

  • Full Name: Oriental Republic of Uruguay
  • Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Argentina and Brazil
  • Government Type: Constitutional republic
  • Language: Spanish (official), Portunol, Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)
  • Religion(s): Roman Catholic 47.1%, non-Catholic Christians 11.1%, nondenominational 23.2%, Jewish 0.3%, atheist or agnostic 17.2%, other 1.1%
  • Capital: Montevideo
  • Population: 3,316,328; 134th
  • Area: 176,215 sq km, 91st
  • Comparative Area: Slightly smaller than the state of Washington
  • National Food: Ndolé
  • National Symbols: Sun of May; Peltophorum dubium
  • Affiliations: UN, OAS
  • Independence: From Brazil, August 25, 1825

Uruguay-coa

  • Alcohol Legal: Yes
  • Minimum Drinking Age: None (to drink); 18 (to buy) [Alcohol sales are forbidden after Midnight]
  • BAC: 0.03%
  • Number of Breweries: 6

uruguay-money-2

  • How to Say “Beer”: cerveza
  • How to Order a Beer: Una cerveza, por favor
  • How to Say “Cheers”: Salud
  • Toasting Etiquette: N/A

uruguay-map

Alcohol Consumption By Type:

  • Beer: 44%
  • Wine: 60%
  • Spirits: 19%
  • Other: 1%

Alcohol Consumption Per Capita (in litres):

  • Recorded: 6.14
  • Unrecorded: 2.00
  • Total: 8.14
  • Beer: 1.33

WHO Alcohol Data:

  • Per Capita Consumption: 6.1 litres
  • Alcohol Consumption Trend: Stable
  • Excise Taxes: Yes
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Sales Restrictions: Hours, places, specific events, intoxicated persons, petrol stations
  • Advertising Restrictions: No
  • Sponsorship/Promotional Restrictions: No

Patterns of Drinking Score: 3

Prohibition: None

uruguay-so-amer

Bolivia Beer

bolivia
Today in 1825, Bolivia gained their Independence from Spain.

Bolivia
bolivia-color

Bolivia Breweries

Bolivia Brewery Guides

Other Guides

Guild: Sociedad Industrial Del Sur SA

National Regulatory Agency: None

Beverage Alcohol Labeling Requirements: Not Known

Drunk Driving Laws: BAC 0.07%

bolivia

  • Full Name: Plurinational State of Bolivia
  • Location: Central South America, southwest of Brazil
  • Government Type: republic [note: the new constitution defines Bolivia as a “Social Unitarian State”]
  • Language: Spanish (official) 60.7%, Quechua (official) 21.2%, Aymara (official) 14.6%, foreign languages 2.4%, other 1.2%
  • Religion(s): Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant (Evangelical Methodist) 5%
  • Capital: La Paz
  • Population: 10,290,003; 83rd
  • Area: 1,098,581 sq km, 28th
  • Comparative Area: Slightly less than three times the size of Montana
  • National Food: Picante de Pollo
  • National Symbols: Llama, Condor; Patujú and Kantuta
  • Affiliations: UN, OAS
  • Independence: From Spain, August 6, 1825

bolivia-coa

  • Alcohol Legal: Yes
  • Minimum Drinking Age: 18
  • BAC: 0.07%
  • Number of Breweries: 11

Bolivia-money

  • How to Say “Beer”: cerveza
  • How to Order a Beer: Una cerveza, por favor
  • How to Say “Cheers”: Salud
  • Toasting Etiquette: Wait for a toast to be made before taking the first sip of your drink. The host makes the first toast. The most common toast is “Salud!” When you lift your glass, look at the person being toasted.

bolivia-map

Alcohol Consumption By Type:

  • Beer: 76%
  • Wine: 2%
  • Spirits: 22%

Alcohol Consumption Per Capita (in litres):

  • Recorded: 2.62
  • Unrecorded: 2.50
  • Total: 5.12
  • Beer: 2.17

WHO Alcohol Data:

  • Per Capita Consumption: 2.6 litres
  • Alcohol Consumption Trend: Increase
  • Excise Taxes: Yes
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Sales Restrictions: Days, places, specific events
  • Advertising Restrictions: No
  • Sponsorship/Promotional Restrictions: Yes

Patterns of Drinking Score: 3

Prohibition: None

bolivia-so-amer

Peru Beer

peru
Today in 1821, Peru gained their Independence from Spain.

Peru
peru-color

Peru Breweries

Peru Brewery Guides

Other Guides

Guilds: Cerveceros Latinoamericanos; Asociacion Latinoamericana

National Regulatory Agency: General Environmental Health Bureau (DIGESA)

Beverage Alcohol Labeling Requirements: Labels must include the following information: Name of the product; Name and address of manufacturer; Importer’s name, address, and phone number, if applicable; Sanitary registration information or number; Net weight or volume of the content; Date marking of viable duration; Special instructions for use or storage, if any; Country of origin

Drunk Driving Laws: BAC 0.05% Note: Drivers below a 0.05% BAC will be given a warning. At a 0.05% and over, the driver will be given a fine and a license suspension of no less than 6 months and no more than 2 years. If the driver is involved in an accident without causing death or severe injury to another individual, he or she may possibly face jail time. If the driver’s causes an accident with a BAC over 1.01%, involving death or severe injury to another party, he or she will receive a mandatory prison sentence of 3 to 5 years. The driver’s license will also be permanently revoked.

peru

  • Full Name: Republic of Peru
  • Location: Western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador
  • Government Type: Constitutional republic
  • Language: Spanish (official) 84.1%, Quechua (official) 13%, Aymara 1.7%, Ashaninka 0.3%, other native languages (includes a large number of minor Amazonian languages) 0.7%, other 0.2%
  • Religion(s): Roman Catholic 81.3%, Evangelical 12.5%, other 3.3%, unspecified or none 2.9%
  • Capital: Lima
  • Population: 29,549,517; 42nd
  • Area: 1,285,216 sq km, 20th
  • Comparative Area: Slightly smaller than Alaska
  • National Food: Ceviche
  • National Symbols: Vicuña; Andean Cock-of-the-rock; Cantuta; Cinchona/Kiwicha; Machu Picchu, Pisco and Cajón; Inti (Inca’s Sun God)
  • Affiliations: UN, OAS
  • Independence: From Spain, July 28, 1821

peru-coa

  • Alcohol Legal: Yes
  • Minimum Drinking Age: 18
  • BAC: 0.05%
  • Number of Breweries: 15

Peru-money

  • How to Say “Beer”: cerveza
  • How to Order a Beer: Una cerveza, por favor
  • How to Say “Cheers”: Salud
  • Toasting Etiquette: Peruvians say “salud” for a toast, and everyone lifts their glasses and drinks the first sip at the same time. It is rude for a visitor to start drinking alone (for the first drink). Once a business deal has been achieved, the host may make a more formal toast. The guest may respond with a brief speech or may simply smile and thank the host.

peru-map

Alcohol Consumption By Type:

  • Beer: 70%
  • Wine: 2%
  • Spirits: 28%

Alcohol Consumption Per Capita (in litres):

  • Recorded: 2.90
  • Unrecorded: 4.00
  • Total: 6.90
  • Beer: 2.16

WHO Alcohol Data:

  • Per Capita Consumption: 2.9 litres
  • Alcohol Consumption Trend: Increase
  • Excise Taxes: Unknown
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Sales Restrictions: Time, location, specific events
  • Advertising Restrictions: No
  • Sponsorship/Promotional Restrictions: No

Patterns of Drinking Score: 3

Prohibition: None

peru-so-amer