Beer Made of Root Vegetable More Affordable, Supports Sustainable Farming
Brewing company SABMiller is the first brewer to commercially produce a lager made of root vegetable, Cassava, as an alternative to the barley-based version.
The line of beer would be sold at 75% of the price of other lagers, an affordable alternative for locals—and hopes to attract people who traditionally drink home brews (informal or illicit alcohol) at the risk to their health.
“Very often illicit alcohol is positively dangerous. What we’re doing is offering a legal alternative to that large percentage of alcohol that is homemade and from which governments get no taxes,” Graham Mackay, SABMiller's chief executive, said.
Cassava is a drought-resistant, starch-rich, easily-cultivated root vegetable that’s widely-grown in Africa, and used by African home brewers.
According to Gerry van den Houten, SABMiller's technical director, “Cassava is the biggest crop in Africa but the least commercialized.”
SABMiller will be using approximately 40,000 tonnes of the raw root vegetable each year for the beer production.
The company will be buying cassava from more than 1,500 African smallholders, to create market opportunities for farmers—so that the local farmers are able to generate income and feed their families.
But cassava is 75% water, and degrades immediately when being harvested.
“It can lie in the ground for a long time but when you harvest it, you’ve got to use it in 24 hours,” can de Houten said.
To overcome this problem, the brewing firm will be using mobile processing units to overcome this problem to preserve the integrity of the starch for up to six months.
SABMiller will be formalizing an age-old technique practiced in African villages; and the processed, bottled and labelled end product will be made out of 70% cassava and 30% barley, and named Impala—after the African antelope.
“It’s a lager with a slightly sour note. It has a much lower gluten content than normal beer," van den Houten said.
Its first batch will be brewed and sold in bars and supermarkets in Mozambique.
[via The Guardian]