Resilience of traditional and domestic beers around the world.


The supposed weak point of traditional beers, compared to their industrial counterparts, namely their sanitary quality, is nevertheless the one that will serve their rehabilitation, at least for the development specialists in emerging countries.

Starting in the 1960s and 1970s, it was obvious that the project of an industrial beer produced according to Western standards and sold to all the inhabitants of the planet was out of reach. The energy needed to run the beer factories and maintain the cold chain, the infrastructure needed for the packaging and large-scale transport of industrial beers, all this led to exorbitant costs and phenomenal transformed energy consumption. The growth model inherited from the 20th century cannot be mainstreamed without massive environmental destruction.

Moreover, the generalisation of the western brewing process (brewing method No. 2 = malting + hopping) implies producing brewing barley and hops everywhere, or importing them at great expense whenever the ecosystems do not allow these crops to be grown locally (forested tropical countries, regions submitted to monsoons, arid countries, Sahelian Africa, soils that are too poor, etc.).


At the same time, the scientific study of the traditional fermented beverages and foods is rehabilitating their nutritional qualities. Alcoholic and lactic fermentations ennoble raw materials based on cereals and starch (manioc, yam, taro).They provide amino acids and vitamins that are indispensable and sometimes missing in the diet of poor countries[1]. The perspective is then reversed. The industrial beers waste resources where the traditional beers preserve a know-how mastered by the poor populations, provide them with a minimum food balance, and implement a flexible and suitable food know-how that the local consumers master.


This cleavage, which partially reproduces the North-South economic inequality, gives back to the traditional beers, formerly condemned to disappear in the progress movement, a certain modernity, an economic value and a cultural status. In the globalised economy, the traditonal beers brewed in the emerging countries opposes and resists the beer of the rich countries, which is sophisticated and cost-intensive to brew,  package and ship. The beer-food, which has not broken with the old functions of the beer-bread, is opposed to the beer-pleasure, the sophisticated luxury of Western drinkers who enjoy their sparkling, foaming and ice-cold beverages.



[1] C. Gastineau, W. Darby, T. Turner (ed.) 1979, Fermented Food Beverages in Nutrition; Rose A. H. (ed.) 1982, Fermented Food (Economic Microbiology Vol. 7); K. Steinkraus 1995, Handbook of Indigenous Fermented Foods (2nd Edition); J. Prakash Tamang, K. Kailasapathy 2010, Fermented Foods and Beverages of the World.

08/10/2015  Christian Berger