Chicha Today

       A Surviving Culture

     When the Inca were conquered and colonized by the Spanish, many parts of their culture did die out. In terms of chicha, however, it was often used against them. On some of the first trips through South America, the Spaniards saw instances of Indian drunkenness or chicha celebration. After colonization, many Indians in the Andes were subject to increased levels of alcohol abuse and mistreatment; and the Spanish capitalized on it. Before the signing of land rights, treaties, or other documents, the Indians were given both chicha and foreign alcohol to dull their decision making.



Today, chicha is still an important drink for many Andeans. After   surviving centuries of Spanish colonial rule and oppression, the tradition of making, sharing, and drinking chicha is a source of pride for many Native Andeans in contemporary times.


Chicha is becoming known worldwide as a sour-sweet beer. Brewers from around the world in many countries are trying their hands at making their own version of chicha beer. In the Andes, some local brewers have started their own companies and are selling the drink in new ways. Now, kids can sip their non-alcoholic chicha, or adults can grab Venezuelan chicha – made with cinnamon, condensed milk, and rice – on the way to work. It has become a transnational identity for the Andes and South American at large.


"Chichamorada" by Kattygalvez - Source:

“Chichamorada” by Kattygalvez – Source: (Chicha morada, an unfermented drink made from purple maize, pineapple, and spices.












1. McGovern, Patrick, professor of anthropology at University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia

2. Sherzer, Joel. Stories, Myths, Chants, and Songs of the Kuna Indians. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003. Print.

3. Hackner, Stacy L., María Cecilia Lozada, and Augusto R. Cardona. “Us and Them: Molle and Maize Beer in the Prehistoric Andes.” (n.d.): n. pag. Web. <>.

4. Owen, James. “Lost Inca Gold–Ransom, Riches, and Riddles.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web.

5. Wadler, Joyce. “Chew It Up, Spit It Out, Then Brew. Cheers!” The New York Times. The New York Times, 08 Sept. 2009. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. <>.

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