Seeing as Switzerland is my new home, this article was particularly interesting to me.
"Dr Francesco Carrer, from Newcastle University, said: "This evidence sheds new light on life in prehistoric alpine communities, and on their relationship with the extreme high altitudes. People travelling across the alpine passes were carrying food for their journey, like current hikers do. This new research contributed to understanding which food they considered the most suitable for their trips across the Alps."
One of the greatest appeals of brewing is how nearly all human societies have developed brewing in one form or another. Meaning, to effectively study the history of brewing, it is necessary to look into a wide range of cultures, which can be a bit daunting at times. So, in an effort to bring sanity and order (mainly to myself for research purposes), I will categorize and continuously update the different alcoholic drinks and brewing methods developed by various countries.
Tanzania lies on the eastern coast of Africa, bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda and the Congo to the west, and Zambia and Mozambique to the south. Tanzania has a tropical climate along its Indian ocean coast and contains temperate weather in its highlands to the north and south. The highest point is Kilimanjaro, which as most know, is the highest point in Africa.
The population, which sits around 51.8 million people, contains around 125 different ethnic groups, with the Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Chagga, and Haya peoples being the biggest. Although the official languages are Swahili and English, there are over 100 different languages spoken making it one of the most linguistically diverse countries in Africa. According to recent reports, 61% of the population identifies as Christian, and 35% identify as Muslim. The remainder are either practitioners of indigenous religions or hold no beliefs. The majority of the population of Zanzibar identify as Muslim, which is curious as they produce the highest amount of sorghum, which is often used for brewing.
Tanzania is heavily dependent on agriculture, which accounts for 85% of its exports, and employs around 66% of the population. Its cash crops are coffee, sisal, tea, cotton, cashews, tobacco, cloves, corn (maize), wheat, cassava, and bananas. Roughly 43.7% of the country’s land has been set aside for agricultural activities, including land for permanent pasture. Plus, 38% of the land has been protected for wildlife conservation.
Tanzania is ranked 6th in Africa for beer consumption, the majority of which is homemade. As such, bottled beers are around 6x more expensive. The biggest breweries in the country, Tanzania Breweries Limited and East African Breweries Limited, mainly produce lagers.
With the wealth of linguistic diversity, so too are the words for beer. So despite pombe being the Swahili word for beer, it does not make it easier to define which alcoholic beverages come from Tanzania, as Swahili is spoken in other African Great Lake countries. Still, from what I can tell, drinks from Tanzania include:
Boha: Sugarcane and Boha
Dengelua: Sugarcane and Honey
Kangara: Maize and Sugar
Kiambule: Maize and Finger millet
Kibuku Mtwara: Maize and Sorghum
Kimpumu: Finger millet
Kindi: Maize and Finger millet
Komoni: Maize and Finger millet
Mbege: Banana and Finger millet
Mnanasi - pineapples
Mtama: Only source is Tiisekwa, B. "Traditional beers processing in Tanzania: development Africa Focus (Belgium) (1986).” which I don’t have access too. But Mtama apparently is a beer made from Sorghum.
Mofru - Plums or Pineapple
Njimbo:Sugar and Tea leaves
Tembo-mnazi: Palm juice
Turbid beer: A turbid beer is an alcoholic beverage which is not diluted with hot water, and consumed directly. Example of turbid beer: Komoni
Straw Beer: To prepare a straw beer, hot water is added to the batch. This separates the beverage into three layers: the upper (containing floating husks), the middle (where clear beer sits), and the lower (containing sediment and precipitates) layer. Example of straw beer: Kimpumu, Kiambule
Fruit wines: brewed with pineapple, plums or palm juice. Examples: Mnanasi, Mofru, Njimbo, Tembo-mnazi
The only description of malting is as follows: To germinate grain, maize and finger millet are soaked in water for a day. Afterward, seeds are placed in a nylon bag for two days. Once sprouted, they are placed on the floor and covered for one day. The source states they are sprayed, but to what with remains unclear. The grains are then left to dry in the sun for two to three days to effectively stop the germination process.
Source: Kubo, Ryosuke. "Brewing Technique of Mbege, a Banana Beer Produced in Northeastern Tanzania." Beverages 2.3 (2016): 21.
Methods of Brewing
So far, I have only been able to find brewing methods of four drinks: Komoni, Kimpumu, Kiambule, and Mbege. Despite being four different drinks, the one common theme employed by Tanzanian brewing is developing a fermentation source, and combining it with another, typically more nutritious, liquid. For example, to brew Komoni, a porridge of maize and finger millet is made and allow to ferment for a few days. Once completed, a separate porridge of maize and finger millet is prepared, and then added to the fermented porridge. This new slurry is stirred and left to stand for half a day, filtered, and then sold for consumption. Changes with ratios of grain to water and preparations of porridges is what helps develop different flavors with these beers.
Unknown. But it is assumed that some strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and lacto bacteria of some kind are present.
The following is a current list of sources that discuss brewing in Tanzania in some form.
Baroin, Catherine. "De la bière de banane au soda en bouteille. Religion et boisson chez les Rwa du Mont Meru Tanzanie du Nord." Journal des africanistes 71.2 (2001): 77-94.
Carlson, Robert G. "Banana beer, reciprocity, and ancestor propitiation among the Haya of Bukoba, Tanzania." Ethnology 29.4 (1990): 297-311.
Fukui, Katsuyoshi. "Alcoholic drinks of the Iraqw: brewing methods and social functions." Kyoto University African Studies 5 (1970): 125-148.
Green, Maia. "Trading on inequality: gender and the drinks trade in southern Tanzania." Africa 69.3 (1999): 404-425.
Kubo, Ryosuke. "Production of indigenous alcoholic beverages in a rural village of Tanzania." Journal of the Institute of Brewing 120.2 (2014): 142-148.
Kubo, Ryosuke. "Brewing Technique of Mbege, a Banana Beer Produced in Northeastern Tanzania." Beverages 2.3 (2016): 21.
Laswai, Henri S., et al. "The Under-Exploited Indigenous Alcoholic Beverages of Tanzania: Production, Consumption and Quality of the Undocumented" Denge." (1997).
Makindara, J. R., et al. "Consumer preferences and market potential for sorghum based clear beer in Tanzania." Journal of Brewing and Distilling 4.1 (2013): 1-10.
McCoy, Sandra I., et al. "Alcohol production as an adaptive livelihood strategy for women farmers in Tanzania and its potential for unintended consequences on women’s reproductive health." PloS one 8.3 (2013): e59343.
Nikander, P., et al. "Ingredients and contaminants of traditional alcoholic beverages in Tanzania." Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 85.1 (1991): 133-135.
Rekdal, Ole Bjørn. "Money, milk and sorghum beer: Change and continuity among the Iraqw of Tanzania." Africa 66.3 (1996): 367-385.
B. Shayo, A. Kamala, AB Gidamis, SAM Nnko, N. "Aspects of manufacture, composition and safety of orubisi: a traditional alcoholic beverage in the north-western region of Tanzania." International journal of food sciences and nutrition 51.5 (2000): 395-402.
Tiisekwa, B. "Traditional beers processing in Tanzania: development needs [Mtama beer, sorghum beer]." Africa Focus (Belgium) (1986).
Tiisekwa, B., A. Huyghebaert, and L. de Mey. "Suggestions of approaches to improve the manufacture of wanzuki (a Tanzanian honey beer)." Belgian journal of food chemistry and biotechnology 43.4 (1988): 125-130.
Tusekwa, B., and A. Huyghebaert. "Traditional alcoholic beverages of Tanzania: suggestions of approaches to improve the manufacture of Ugwagwa." Mededelingen van de Faculteit Landbouwwetenschappen Rijksuniversiteit Gent (1988).
Tusekwa, TCE Mosha, HS Laswai, EE Towo, A. B. "Traditional alcoholic beverages of Tanzania: production, quality and changes in quality attributes during storage." International journal of food sciences and nutrition 51.2 (2000): 135-143.
Willis, Justin. "For Women and Children: An Economic History of Brewing Among the Nyakyusa of Southwestern Tanzania." (2002): 55-73.
As I am sure it is to no major surprise to anyone, Dr. Patrick McGovern has released a new book, at least according to the plethora of articles about this new book. Not sure how it differentiates from his previous work, but it certainly will promote the brewing archaeology field! And, perhaps, more funding (which it really needs).
An interesting examination of the predecessor to the porter style.
"In the past, I’ve drawn attention to the fact that there were thread variants apart from the well-known “three threads”, a London beer type of the early 1700s. Three threads, aka three thirds, was a mixed beer which preceded porter and for which porter emerged after 1720, or IMO, as a substitute. There were two threads, three threads, four threads, and six threads, at least, and apparently also, single thread."
Overall this is a good change of scenery, both for me and my now fiance (I’m also getting married), despite the fact we had no choice…
Backstory time: Some of you may have noticed that my posting has dropped off as of late - my last post was at the end of February. Not how I intended to start this year. Seeing that it is now July, and I already missed my one year anniversary, I had a look back at the progress I had done, and these past two months have not been pretty.
In an effort to clear my head – plus I hate being vague online - I figured it would be good to post what has been going on behind the screen.
I have been pulling massive overtime for the past four months in an area I was forced into. The joys of working at a startup. I was initially brought on to write articles on current topics within biotechnology. Then, due to a push for the company’s A-round funding, I was told to make sales calls. On the few days I had a normal 8.5h working day, I was just too exhausted to research anything. To top it off, when things were starting to look like I would go back to writing articles, the content department was shut down. So I was no longer needed.
Then the panic really set in. Being an expat and all, joblessness has the added bonus of being kicked out of the country. My visa and job were expiring, and the small window I had to get everything in order was quickly closing. I could have tried to find another job here in Berlin, but since I’m foreign, most employers don’t want to go through the paperwork. This would need much more time than I had.
Prior to the chaos, amongst one of the small breaks I had from work, my girlfriend and I took a hike on the outskirts of Berlin. We always wanted to move to Switzerland the hard way. I get a job, get the visa, and have legal entry into the country. Then, she would follow suit. That way we could proudly say we did it ourselves, with no help nor easy access. Re-evaluating our situation, we realized we weren’t doing ourselves any favors by prolonging the inevitable. Marriage makes both our lives easier, I wouldn't have to worry about being deported, and you know the whole ‘love’ thing. So, after noticing we were only making things harder for ourselves, we agreed to get married. I say ‘we agreed to get married’ as I still wanted to make a proper proposal.
Then I lost my job.
So it has been a hectic couple of weeks, decent highs and terrible lows. I hope you can forgive the reduction in posts. I realize what has happened to me is really just life. I don’t mean to moan or whine, and I certainly know people whose situation is worse, so I am thankful for the job I had and the luck awarded to me. Still, things took a turn for the worse there.
But thankfully, there is a happy ending! We’re here now, still getting married, and with a roof over our heads. Other than being a huge relief, it's good to know we figured this whole thing out. Plus, it also means I will be able to focus more on research. I will (most likely) begin a Ph.D. project sometime next year. As to what it is about, I will have to hold off for now, as I’m not sure if it is advisable to reveal the project. I will freelance a bit on the side, get back into brewing, and hopefully be involved with some professional brews with a few friends I have in Switzerland. Also expect some website redesigns, homebrew recipes, and of course, more posts!
In the end, it has been a real shitty first four to five months, but now it seems to all have been worth it, and things are going back to normal.
So please stay tuned for your regularly scheduled programming!
Right! So I know I have been on and off with the blogging, the cause of which will be laid out in a further post. I also went back home to show the lady friend around California. Given the copious amounts of drinking and jet lag, I couldn't really post too much. So, let's catch up on what we missed!
"That brewery, founded 1888 and always very small, closed in 1985. Despite its size and obscurity, or perhaps because of it, the brewery was purchased in 1982 by another small, northern brewery, Vaux of Sunderland, England, a story unto itself." Via Beer et seq.