I have two new, short posts up in the Brewing section of my eponymous website: “What is gruit?” and — even more basic — “What is beer?” In both cases, I kind of feint and dodge. Beer terminology, like brewing itself, is gloriously imprecise, and that’s one reason why I like it. I tried winemaking for a little while, but the results were not too impressive. It turns out that you need a fanatic attention to detail to make decent wine. With brewing, as I proved to my own satisfaction last October, you can avoid measuring anything, throw in extra ingredients on a whim, and still end up with a drinkable beer.
“God taught the Raramuri how to make corn beer,” says Guadalupe Espino Palma, the traditional governor of the Norogachi district. “We make offerings of tesguino to God himself, and He drinks it also. We use tesguino for dancing, and we enjoy drinking it.” Even getting drunk is a spiritual act, he explains.
And during this corn beer communion, in place of “happy Easter,” the Raramuri will say to one another “bosasa” — “fill up, be satisfied, be contented.”