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Old 10-03-2012, 06:31 PM   #1
ChabiBoni
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Default West African Millet Beer

I want to revive an old thread on West African Millet Beer, or Tchouk. I am looking for how to make this stuff, and am needing the help of true anthro-brewologists.

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin and my PC group keeps trying to figure out how to reproduce it, but we have holes in the recipe that I would like to figure out. Tchouk tastes a bit like hard cider, but is grittier. It has a low alcohol content, and a high sugar content. It is usually still fermenting when you drink it, so it is bubbling from fermentation in the cup you drink it out of (which ideally is a calabash or gourd, about the size of a medium salad bowl) and is usually served at room temp, which in West Africa may be 80 degrees F. The mouthfeel is probably akin to the minor fizz you get from poprocks.

So here are my questions,

They make it in a big vat (the photo at the top of this post shows it), but it gets boiled down for a day to fit in a bucket about the size of the blue one featured here. Any thoughts on what these quatities might be, even as a ballpark? Anyone own a vat that big that could make an estimate?

It is true that OG and FG really don't matter, but I think yeast must have something to do with it. Brew ladies (usually called tanties) usually pass brewers' yeasts down through the family, collecting strains of it as a family secret. Any thoughts on what a good yeast would be? On a grander scale, what does one yeast type bring that another does not?

Apparently, you are supposed to soak it overnight in water, and then let it dry for a day or so. I was told in Benin that you wanted the millet to begin sprouting--looking almost like cooked quinoa. Does this make any sense? Any thoughts on why you would want to do that?

Do LHBS usually stock millet, and would they be willing to mill wet millet?

This recipie above calls for bringing the mixture to a boil, but doesn't mention time. Tanties usually have it going on their fire for the day, as I recall, with a slow boil (but beyond simmer). Any thoughts on what a shorter or longer boil would do to the batch, especially considering the high sugar content?

A note for people who like brew culture:

You know it is a five day process, since in local languages they talk about a 5 day week based on Tchouk preparation (1 day of prep, second day, soak day, boil day, and market--something like that) and also is why most towns in the area have a market every 5 days, so the whole countryside can get blitzed. Shopping till you drop takes on a whole new meaning.

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Old 10-03-2012, 08:44 PM   #2
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I'd say 20 and 4 gallons, just as a guess. But, I'd start with less volume. Traditional methods often leave much to be desired.
Check for millet at places like WinCo, Whole Foods, or most health food stores.
You sprout the millet to get the starches converted to sugars.
You don't need to mill the sprouted millet. It's too small for most mills anyway.
I think a hour would be plenty for the boil, although a long boil would caramelize the wort and that might be the source of the "varnish-like" aroma.
Yeast - I'd just go with something clean, like US-05

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