Feature: Peruvian microbreweries produce new-style beers with indigenous grains, plants

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-07 12:33:24|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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by Juan Limachi

LIMA, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Shifting their attention from malted barley, Peruvian microbreweries are turning to native Andean grains and plants, like quinoa, maca and coca leaves, to brew beer.

As new-style drinks are gaining a foothold in local markets, people choose them not just for the taste, but also for the health benefits that plants like coca can offer.

"We make these products to give consumers something healthy and something good," microbrewer Sol Marcos told Xinhua, when she promoted her beer at the recently-held Eco-fest Miraflores fair dedicated to ecological products held in Lima.

"Coca, for example, is an anti-inflammatory (plant), (coca beer is) natural and, above all, very nutritious," she added.

Marcos, one of some 30 Peruvian microbrewers who are skipping traditional ingredients such as barley and hops, eyes coca leaves, an age-old plant known to locals for its ability to relieve hunger and fatigue and its curative properties.

The coca leaves need to be fermented for two weeks, said Marcos, adding this type of beer has "a much lower percentage of alcohol" because its fermentation is a natural process.

When coca beer gets popular with consumers, many other kinds of fruit and grains can also be used.

"We naturally ferment everything ... for example, gooseberries and quinoa. Each product needs a different fermentation method; they are not all the same," said Marcos.

The positive market reaction to these novel beers has inspired Marcos to expand business.

"I think it's a good thing that our Andean products are being valued," especially since "they also have nutritional value," she said.

Sonia Estrella, another business owner attending the eco-product fair, noted many specialties across the country were on show, including maca, also known as Peruvian ginseng.

Often sold as a dietary supplement, maca is one of the leading ingredients in the new crop of microbrews available in Lima, usually blended with quinoa.

"Maca comes from our (Andes) mountain range," said Estrella, adding the plant can relieve "fatigue, stress" and "is considered a superfood these days."

Local eateries have witnessed the popularity of the new brews, where the star beverage is a mug of ice coca or quinoa beer.