Tella - ጠላ [Ethiopians style black beer]  Home-brew   - ቤት የተጠመቀ ጠላ

Brewing tella - ጠላ is not for the faint-hearted.  


As Ethiopian as complex itself, the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverage in Ethiopia; tella - ጠላ – Ethiopian style black beer has many varieties in various regions and brewed with diverse grains such as barley, wheat, maize, millet, sorghum, and teff, but the basic fermenting process remain similar.

I come from a generations of excellent home-brewers. I grew up enjoying tella, not the ordinary tella, but the filtered one - dark and robust. Though not much of a drinker herself, my mother (rest in peace) used to distinguish the complexity of tella just by the color and the aroma.

I have been thinking to brew tella - እቤት ጠላ መጥመቅ for a very long time and last year I set out to do that. From the get go, I knew that unlike tej ጠጅ– Ethiopian style honey mead, brewing tella - እቤት ጠላ መጥመቅ is time consuming and daunting, but little did I know what was waiting me on my first tella brewing experience, which kept me a little humble, but got me to appreciate the people more who used to brew tella growing up as well. 

Actually ingredients to brew tella aren’t necessarily hard to find; all you need is barley malt, wheat or other grains and gesho leaves powder and sticks ቅጠልና አንጨት ጌሾ[Rhamnus prinioides - leaf buckthorn], but the steps from sprouting and baking to crumbling and the multiple phases of fermentation process. I thought, I did what it takes to make good tella and hoped it would ferment and turn into a dissent tella not into a big terrible sodden mess.

Discouragement does not even cover the feeling I had. But if I know myself well, I knew that after leaking my wounds, I would jump back into the ring for another round. So after a thorough preparation like after a couple of months, I gave it a try one more time. This time around I ordered myself a spanking new beer brewing kit online – I mean, the whole kit and caboodle.  If you compare tella with the store bought beer, its production process is similar to beer making in that the grain starch is converted into sugars by malting. However, there is no yeast added for fermentation in tella; it utilizes the natural yeast present in the grains. I approached it just as all grain beer-brewing [brew in a bag aka BIAB] added gesho leaves powder and sticks ቅጠልና አንጨት ጌሾ [Rhamnus prinioides - leaf buckthorn] instead of the hops and it came out just OK.

Still, just OK was never on the top of my vocabulary list, so I set out to try this bad boy one more time, and guess what? On the tella tasting day, one sip and I knew that it was something to write home about. 

I have carbonated some of the tella and left the rest flat. I even bottled, caped and lebeled it in a 12 oz. beer bottle; fresh every time. The alcohol percent in this tella is 7% (ABV).  This tella is full-bodied, dominated by a distinctive dark malt (roasted grain flavor). I was easy on the gesho ጌሾ {Rhamnus prinioides - leaf buckthorn] that it has a slight sweetneess, which ranges from bitter to mild.




PS: When it comes to enjoying tej or tella, we ain't talking about getting too happy here, just a glass or two, occasionally. "Moderate drinking," as defined by the U.S. Department of agriculture is no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.  

Some of my favorite tella glasswares.

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