Egyptian Bouza


Bouza is the beer of the Pharoahs. As I see it, this was a rough beer, naturally fermented in vessels that “remembered” how to make it. I found a source for a sourdough yeast strain from a bakery in Cairo that has been in continuous operation for three thousand years. This was bouza in the making.

Bouza was made in a way that is unique in comparison to today’s methods. The key ingredient was bread–partially baked grains that would saccarify during the slow, prolonged baking process. Bouza bread is made from pale barley malt, crystal malt and barley flour that is mixed with gesho tea to make a stiff dough. A pint of Red Sea Starter is added to the dough, along with macerated medjool dates, honey, salt and netch azmud seeds.
Bouza Bread

The dough is shaped into round loaves, and left to proof for 12 hours. The loaves are baked at low temperature until the interior is hot and gooey. Cooled, they can be stored for some time before brew day.

Because much of the saccarification of bouza bread’s starches has been completed by the baking process, to brew, the loaves are crumbled into mash-temperature water and soaked for an hour. The liquid is drained off and the grains are rinsed with hot water. The wort is infused with blue lotus flowers, boiled and cooled. Sourdough culture is added, and the mixture fermented for three days at a temperature between 70F and 80F to taste (the higher temperature range favors the lactobacillus in the sourdough culture, making the bouza more tart.)

When the bouza has finished fermenting, it can be bottled with a small amount of honey in each bottle. This batch is very dark amber, with a sourdough bread aroma. The flavor is tangy, with hints of malt, pepper, corriander and nutmeg.

As it tends to ferment out very dry, and consequently sour, the bouza can be mixed to taste with date sugar for sweetening before serving it. Show up at the Pharoah’s pad with a jug of this, and you’re sure to receive a warm welcome.