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Molle beer production in a Peruvian central highland valley

Faculty Advisor




fermented beverages, central Andes, schinus molle, molle beer, indigenous peoples, ethnography, archaeology

Abstract (summary)

Early accounts left by the Spaniards acknowledge that fermented beverages produced from a variety of products were consumed at the time the Inka Empire flourished in the Andean region. One of these beverages, called molle aqa (molle beer), was made from the berries of the molle tree. However, molle beer is seldom included in scholarly discussions concerning the production and consumption of fermented beverages. In contrast to the attention given to maize beer production, there are no substantial ethnographic accounts reporting the processes that involve the making of molle beer. Likewise, archaeologically, it is uncertain how far back in time this beverage was produced and consumed, although it is frequently asserted that maize beer consumption predated the Inka Empire. Here I report on the production of molle beer in the Peruvian central highlands valley of Ayacucho and discuss the implications for the identification of molle beer production in archaeological contexts. This analysis illustrates that the archaeological signature of molle beer production overlaps significantly with that of maize beer, a situation that has likely prevented the identification of molle beer in archaeological contexts. A detailed description of the process of molle beer making has the potential to provide scholars with the necessary tools to identify fermented beverages other than maize beer.

Publication Information

Valdez, Lidio. "Molle Beer Production In A Peruvian Central Highland Valley." Journal of Anthropological Research 68, no. 1 (2012):71-93. doi:10.3998/jar.0521004.0068.103.


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