hist-brewing: Mead Recipe for T'ej - now beer recipe, too!

Sean Richens srichens at sprint.ca
Sun Aug 27 08:17:19 PDT 2000

Another follow up to Dan's questions.

If you do manage to get Gesho, you might want to do some seriously
historical brewing which will make you realize that Mesopotamian beer
recipes are pretty modern compared to what humans were drinking for
20,000-odd years.

This recipe is pretty sophisticated in that it has all modern techniques
except for heating the mash and boiling the brew.  Actual Suwa or Tella
recipes vary greatly according to the altitude where the brewer lives.

I made mine using barley malt as the enzyme source, and millet as my
unmalted grain.  Other options are malted sorghum/unmalted Teff,
barley/sorghum, sorghum/millet, etc.  I'll give you the recipe the way I
made it, and you can figure out the substitutions.  The unmalted grain is,
of course, cooked.

For about 8 -10 L:

1)  Make Mattaka - unleavened flat bread
        1 lb millet flour
        water to make thin batter - like crepe batter
     Fry with the least possible oil - none if your pan permits.  Make about
20     thin breads 8" diameter.  Cool and tear up.  In its countries of
origin you         can buy these dried and ready to use.

2)  Starter
        Crush 1 lb. barley malt
        Mix with
            1 cup powdered Gesho leaves
            8 L water
    Allow to ferment 3 days (THAT'S RIGHT - NO YEAST ADDED)

3)  Brew
            the mattaka
            1 lb. dried dates, chopped
    Allow to ferment 2-3 more days depending on temperature.  Strain out
solids.  The beer is drunk while still fermenting.  Traditionally, the first
day it's suitable for kids as a vitamin supplement.  The second day it's
suitable for respectable women, and by the fourth day you invite the men of
the village to finish it off and enjoy a good drunk.  ;-)

An optional addition is 1/2 cup of golden-roasted unmalted barley.  I used a
small amount of crystal malt for flavour.

I freeze what I can't finish off fresh.  Unfortunately, it turns green when

The smell of the starter is vile.  However, it does mellow somewhat in the
brewing phase.  You really want someone who knows how it's supposed to taste
around when you make this.  And DON'T look at it under the microscope.  #8-o

It's an interesting project in that it's spontaneous fermentation controlled
by the bioselective action of the Gesho, and the mashing is all conducted at
fermentation temperatures, kind of like sake.  It really gets you thinking
about how brewing got started, and what defines "beer" as opposed to all
beverages not "beer" enough for the purists.

Cheers to the brave (and undaunted in their search for Gesho).


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