Chicha is a corn based alcoholic beverage popular throughout South and Central America. It's not really mass manufactured, but rather brewed in small batches in homes, particularly for large celebrations. My first experience with chicha was in Peru where I stayed for about a month in August of 2006. I arrived in my home pueblo just in time for their annual patron saint celebration which lasted about a week. The second night I was there, Faustino Maldonado - the father of the family I was staying with - brought me to the house of one of his relatives where they would be preparing and practicing for the celebration (they were part of the processions that were held every night which converged in the plaza for a grand party all night long). When we arrived, our host brought out a bucket with a mug, which he dipped into the bucket and offered us each a cupful of chicha. It's sweet, slightly sour, and mildly carbonated and tastes a lot like apple cider (without the apple taste). After that night I visited several other homes, and found that most of them had some chicha on hand to offer to guests whenever they stopped by.
Today I began the process of making Chicha. I've been preparing for about a month now by buying supplies and researching the process. Here and here are the two recipes that I've combined to develop my own process - both recipes have minor flaws, but they complement each other well. I ordered Peruvian sweet corn (Maiz Chulpe) and some Peruvian black corn (Maiz Morado) from here. The sweet corn is the main source of fermenting sugars while I'm hoping that the black corn will lend it a unique color (we'll see). I also visited Topeka and bought some brewers yeast from here - I was looking for nottingham yeast like the recipe says, but he was all out so I bought some Fermentis Dry Ale Yeast instead (we'll see). I'm still searching for a grain mill - preferably one that I don't have to buy, but can borrow for the short amount of time that I'll need it - and a large narrow mouthed jar for the fermenting.
With most of the supplies together and some confidence derived from my research I initiated the process by pouring the corn into a large stew pot, rinsing it and then covering it with water to soak. I'll keep posting periodically over the next two weeks to let you know how it's going, and with any luck I'll have a nice batch of Chicha to celebrate the end of the semester!