The Second Version

14/10/08

Things You Never Considered Before: Chestnut Beer

Okay, I admit I'm not the first one to make it; some other fellas in Corsica did it long before. But this one is mine, made from scratch.

Chestnuts (castagne) are very popular in Italy during fall: the trees grown spontaneously and in large numbers above 500-600 meters altitude. In October they drop a prodigious amount of fruits on the ground where they remain edible for quite some time - in fact my grandma when she was young used to go in the woods in spring and pick the still edible fruits attached to the chestnut tree saplings. Chestnuts can be eaten roasted, boiled, mashed, and dried and ground into a flour that one can use as grits or mix with wheat flour to make pasta or gnocchi. Chestnuts allowed many people to survive in winter - and wild boars and other animals too.

I drove my Terios to its offroad limits up and down a worringly steep and rocky mountain track (my thanks to the central differential lock); I picked the chestnuts, picked the hops, roasted chestnuts, made the wort, filtered it into a fermenter (chestnut wort is unwieldy to say the least), added yeast... and began hoping my efforts will produce something drinkable.

Hops come from the side of an embankment near a railway bridge, and yeast is common baker's yeast - wha can be more proletarian than this drink?

Seriously now, chestnut beer - which is in fact a barley-based beer with the addition of a variable amount of roast chestnuts or chestnut flour - is becoming a peculiar product of Italian microbreweries. I have not had the chance to taste one of these beers so far, however.

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