Dogfish Head Brewery has carved out a reputation for itself as the home for experimental, unique brews that are sometimes so out-there it’s hard to even conceive of them as actual beer (think: beer brewed with fresh oysters or artic cloudberries…). When your motto is “Off-Centered Ales for Off-Centered People,” things are gonna get weird.
As part of their whole avant-garde deal, the brewery has spent the last 10 years periodically releasing an “Ancient Ales” series that seeks to uncover and recreate the recipes of ancient brewers. So basically, Drunk History.
The project pairs brewers with one of the world’s top experts in ancient beverages, and it has taken Dogfish Head to Egypt, Turkey, China, Denmark and more, looking for inspiration. It has also led to two beers inspired by recipes from Latin America that are thousands of years old, and which everyone should try asap.
The first beer, called Theobroma, is “a celebration of chocolate, the food of the gods.” The recipe is based on the chemical analysis of 3,000-year-old pottery fragments found in Honduras, which somehow revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drinks used by ancient civilizations to
cure PMS toast special occasions. (I am inferring from this that the magical concept of chocolate beer was born in Central America, a handy fact to pull out at parties). Theobroma is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs (from Askinosie Chocolate), as well as honey, chilies and annatto. Find out where you can buy this beer here, and learn more about the molecular evidence that led to its creation below:
The second Latin-America inspired beer from the mad scientists at Dogfish Head is inspired by the indigenous corn-beer beverage chicha, which you’ve probably heard of since variations exist all over Central and South America. Dogfish Head’s version is based on Peruvian chicha, and uses ingredients like organic pink Peruvian pepper corns, yellow corn and organic Peruvian purple corn in its brew. Since they’re really sticklers for authenticity, Dogfish Head also decided to replicate the traditional method used by Peru’s indigenous communities to convert the starches in the corn into fermentable sugars: chewing it up and then spitting it out. They straight up had brewers sit around all day and chew 20 pounds of this purple Peruvian corn:
The resulting beer has a purple-pink hue from the Peruvian corn, strawberries, and tree seeds – it’s dry, fruity, and delish. Dogfish Head released this brew in mid-August for a limited run, but you can stay tuned on where it might be available here.