Sunday, January 21, 2007

Homebrew, Bobo Style

In Segou we visited a Bobo family who run a small brewery in their home, making millet beer in small quantities that they sell from a shed in their compound. While Mali is predominantly Muslim, and thus not alcohol-friendly, there are a number of peoples within the country who have maintained their traditional religions. Our guide Oumar referred to the Bobo people as "hard-core animists". Whatever that means, they certainly were into their beer, and I got quite a few pictures of their backyard brewing venture

Here the millet kernels are soaked in warm water in the sun until they sprout. This, as any self-respecting homebrewer knows, is the first step of the process known as malting. Grains are malted by encouraging them to germinate, or sprout, and then drying them out again before the process goes to far. This increases the sugar known as maltose in the grain.

The millet is then dried out in the sun, to arrest the germination process at the just the right point. I tried hard to get the picture of this grain a moment earlier, when the family pooch was snoozing in the middle of the sprouted millet, but he got up before I could get my camera ready.!

The next step is to pulverize the malted grain, and mix it with water. European brewers call this mixture a "wort". The wort is then cooked to remove bacterial impurities. These guys, operating in completey non-sterile conditions, cook their wort for a full twenty-four hours to kill off any microbes in the mixtures.
This is the stove where the wort is boiled for a full day. When the boiling is over, the wort is cooled, and yeast is added.

The mixture is allowed to ferment uncovered for another twenty-four hours. Since the fermentation is open, no real carbonation develops but a it does get a nice frothy head. I was surprised to taste it and find that in just 24 hours it had lost a good deal of its suger content and tasted like beer. The guys in the hut were drinking it down by the calabash-full.


Raven Alita said...

Animism is a belief system that does not accept the separation of body and soul, of spirit from matter. As such it is based upon the belief that personalized souls are found in animals, plants and other material objects, governing, to some degree, their existence [Wikipedia] bet after all those 'calabashes' of beer anyone might be into Animism ;)

Michael Stein said...

Ah, that explains that "Spirits" sign over my favorite shop!

Miss Footloose said...

I love this post and would like to have permission to use one of your photos on my blog. I will also add a link to this post. However, I cannot find an email address to reach you, so I hope this finds you.

My blog:
Tales of the Globetrotting Life

My email address is on the profile page.


Anonymous said...

Seeing these kind of posts reminds me of just how technology truly is everywhere in this day and age, and I am fairly certain that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as the price of memory decreases, the possibility of copying our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I daydream about all the time.

(Submitted using SKu2 for R4i Nintendo DS.)