All of which brings us to Sam Calagione's newest endeavor: chicha he himself gnawed. The details are all contained in today's Times in one of the most entertaining articles I've read about beer:
“We’re going to have an archaeologist and historians and brewers sitting around and chewing 20 pounds of this purple Peruvian corn,” he said. “You kind of chew it in your mouth with your saliva, then push with your tongue to the front of your teeth so that you make these small cakes out of it, then lay them on flat pans and let them sit for 12 hours in the sun or room temperature. That’s when the enzymes are doing their work of converting the starches in that purple corn.”Joyce Wadler, the Times reporter, got to sit in on the event, and the tale is coffee-spraying funny. Although I've never met the man, it seems, based on the many, many articles about him, that Calagione is not a particularly meticulous planner. So things start out with verve (and not much info):
Mr. Calagione hoped to make about 10 kegs of chicha, which would be available only in his Rehoboth Beach pub, Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats. He was confident that his team would be able to process the 20 pounds of corn his recipe required in about an hour.But proceed ... unexpectedly.
Did the experiment result in a batch of chicha? You'll have to read the article to find out.
At the end of two hours, there were but two trays of salivated corn. We took a break for dinner in the pub.
At 9:30 p.m., it was back to the brew room. A weigh-in of the larger tray showed but 14 ounces of salivated corn.
“It’s dismal, I’m not going to lie to you,” Mr. Calagione said. “I’d say everybody is deeply, unpleasantly surprised at how labor intensive and palate fatiguing this stuff has turned out to be.”
PHOTO: Jean-Pierre Jeannin, Marco Falcioni