In places and times when clean drinking water was a scarce commodity, people came up with ways of making drinks safer, from boiling water and making coffee, tea and herbal infusions to drinking fermented alternatives such as beers from grains, and wines from fruit, honey, cactus plants and other sources of sugar. The fermentation process produces alcohol, which kills harmful microbes and preserves nutrients.
Chicha, a traditional drink from South America, is made from ground maize or cassava, which is chewed and fermented with warm water.
Kumis is an ancient Central Asian drink fermented from mares’ milk.
Banana beer, a popular alcoholic drink throughout Africa known as urwaga in Kenya and lubisi in Uganda, is made by extracting juice from ripe bananas, mixing it with sorghum flour and water, and leaving it to ferment for up to 24 hours.
Mead, a drink fermented from honey, has been around for at least 9,000 years. Ancient Greeks, Mayans and Indians all made and drank variations of mead, and it is still popular in Nepal, where it is called dandaghare, across to Ethiopia, where tej is highly alcoholic and berz is weaker.