In sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil, cassava, a root vegetable grown by small rural farmers, has long been used to make home-brewed beer. And now cassava beer has begun to make commercial inroads around the world.
And here’s why…
Cassava, also known as manioc or yuca, has long been a staple for smallholder farmers in some of the world’s tropical regions. Highly perishable, it’s been largely viewed as a substance crop but that’s changing.
With the advent of mobile processing units able to reach rural farmers, cassava’s starchy meal can last up to six months increasing its viability as a barley replacement for commercial brewing in African countries like Nigeria and in regions of northeastern Brazil.
In Mozambique’s bars and street stalls, ice cold Impala is the drink of choice, fast capturing a valuable slice of the African market, according to NDTV Food.
“In 2011 Impala became the world’s first commercially made cassava beer when it was launched by SABMiller through local subsidiary Cervejas de Mocambique. Rival brewing giant Diageo started making its own cassava beer in Ghana in 2012, called ‘Ruut Extra’, which has an alcohol content of six percent.”
And now the Financial Times is reporting that the communist party government of Maranhão in Brazil has forged an alliance between its rural farmers and AmBev (the Latin American division of brewing giant AB InBev) and launched Magnífica, a beer brewed using local cassava which is beginning to take hold.
Beers brewed with cassava are being embraced more quickly in areas where cassava is already part of the region’s diet. It smells different and has “an unmistakably mysterious taste,” according to SmallStarter.
But benefiting from lower production costs cassava beers are cheaper than their barley-driven commercial counterparts. And because they’re more affordable poorer communities are increasingly embracing them.