Chicha – Peru’s Saliva Fermented Corn Beer – Things to do in Peru

Peruvian locals making Chicha

Peru is famous for its corn or choclo.  Many things can be made from corn but the most infamous has to be the corn-based beer, chicha.  Chicha is peru’s local beer.  Like it or hate it, you have to at least try it if you are in Peru.

There are 2 kind of Chicha:

  • Chicha Morado is the purple, sweat, non alcoholic drink that many restaurants in Peru serves.   It is very good.
  • Chicha de jora is the fermented corn beer that used to be fermented with saliva but now malted barley is used.   It tastes like sour beer.

In the towns and villages of the Andes, getting drunk on chicha is a popular pastime – particularly during the holidays.  Chicha can be found all over peru, in any door that has a red flag or red plastic bags.  It is very cheap and to our surprise, a glass of Chicha in the  Sacred Valley area cost only S./0.50 or around USD $0.20.

As is common in other parts of the world, Andean people realized they could use saliva to activate the fermentation process, making the partial chewing & spitting out of corn kernels the first step in the chicha brewing process.  In ancient time, small group of women would chew the corn, mixed with saliva in the mouth and then spat out and stored for fermentation.   In modern time, malted barley is used for fermentation as common with other beer brewing processes.    But perhaps this old technique may still be used in remote and rural area (and perhaps in the one Chicheria we tried).

Peru's Most Popular Drink - Pisco Sour - Inca Cola

Peru’s Popular Drinks – Pisco Sour, Inca Cola

Finding Chicha at Pisac Market - Cusco, Peru

Finding Chicha at Pisac Market – Cusco, Peru








To many, Chicha may take sometime to get used to.  We think it tasted nothing more than sour beer.  A few more glasses of it will start getting you drunk and you will then surely have acquired the taste.   Often the local fermentation processes may be unsanitary, so try it at your own risk.

But if your stomach are strong enough, Chicha is one of the best way to make new friends with the locals and to experience the genuine Peruvian culture.

Use the comments box below to tell us about your Chicha experiences, or any questions you have!


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  5. Bring me back good memories.
    Inca Kola – too sweet to my taste – diluted with sparkling water was quite refreshing. Pisco Sour is the drink to be tried.
    I had the best ever ceviche in Miraflores – had it at lunch when the fish was still fresh. Had it in other countries – not that’s good.
    How was your cuy guinea pig, mine was too dried.
    Bought a baby alpaca sweater in that shop – yes, it’s genuine – very warm – smelt strongly when getting wet – very delicate – hand wash cycle on the washing machine ruined it !
    Did the Inca Trail – loved it !
    Will be KL and Singapore next summer – love your blog about these city – will use as my guide.
    Where will be your next destination ?
    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    • Did not like Guinea Pig as it is too little meat and fatty. Thailand and Kenya soon. Just climbed highest peak in U.S.

  6. I had to seek out this infamous beverage before leaving Peru. As a long standing member of a NW homebrewing club who has been exposed to many fine beers of the world I was indeed curious. My experience happened in Pisaq, a small town about 45 minutes out of Cuzco. Sighting the red plastic bag on a pole, I wandered down a narrow cobblestone alley and entered through the barnyard. At the far end was a smoke blackened building, where in the gloom sat 3 or 4 men and 2 women sipping HUGE glasses of an opaque substance. I asked for a “piquena” and the experience began…After a round of clinking glasses with a “salud”, taking photos of each other and noting guinea pigs running underfoot, I sat down to enjoy this unique beverage. Honestly, it was quite good in the way of a well crafted Belgian Sour. Refreshing, subtle and with no off flavors. I was completely uplifted by the experience which didn’t require a ticket or a reservation, but let me into a reality beyond the tourist trail.

    • Great stories…We had it and filmed the video in Pisaq as well. Wandered through the alley and found the place.

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