Imagine this: It’s a chilly and over cast night. You walk up the famous steps of The Field Museum. Immediately pterodactyls fly above you and out of the corner of your eye, in the middle of a vast corridor lined with millions of years of history, a giant T-Rex is glaring you down. You're here to grab a drink. A beer brewed from the recipe of the ancient Wari people.
If you're like me at all, you probably run down to the corner store to grab a six-pack on a Friday night or a trip to the local bar with some friends. Never did I imagine I would be heading to The Field Museum to drink a beer, yet I find myself on the midst of archeologists, photographers, mothers and fathers, beer connoisseurs, and ancient drinking vessels dating back hundreds of years. But what exactly is this beer?
An excavation site in the Peruvian mountains worked for years, a hidden brewery filled with empty containers, traces of corn and berries, memories of a culture of people from long ago, all distilled down into a purplish-red glass in front of me. Named "The Wari", the liquid is bitter at first and then quickly tangy but transcends itself into a sweetness that can only be described as the feeling of drinking Kool-Aid on a hot summer day. It carries itself with the flavor of a berry cocktail and dare I say it, history? The tart flavor is surprisingly refreshing and every sip that I take somehow keeps drawing me back to the story of its discovery.
The Wari is based off of an ancient recipe of the ancient recipe of the Tiwanaku Wari people, whose Empire controlled a large part of what is now the mountains of Peru. Its technical terminology is “chicha de jora” or a type of corn beer, but this drink boasts ingredients as purple corn which gives it its color and berries from the Peruvian Pepper Tree. The original recipe called for it to be brewed in large masses for five to seven days and then the chicha only had a self life of about five days. You may be thinking this could be a problem: a lot of alcohol that only lasted five days. Not to the Wari people. According to the excavation team the massive party that was held afterward the brewing process involved inviting all your friends and neighbors from other villages to come help you consume this very potent beer. While I am thankful for modern day advances in technology, it sure does seem like the Wari people knew how to have fun.
Formed in partnership with the colorful group at Off Color Brewing and The Field Museum, The Wari hits select retailers such Whole Foods and the Off-Color Brewing store next week. My advice to you: get it while you can. The limited number of bottled drinks they had for sale at The Field Museum sold in a matter of minutes leaving guests wanting more and more of this taste of history.