Aspects of the manufacture and consumption of Kenyan traditional fermented beverages

M.J.R. Nout

    Research output: Thesisexternal PhD, WU


    This study was aimed at providing fundamental information con ern ing the manufacture, composition, and consumption of the major Kenyan traditional fermented beverages.In Chapter 1, the reader is introduced to Kenya, its population and climate, and several aspects of its agriculture underlying this study.Chapter 2 offers an overview of the major fermented beverages con sumed in Kenya. A distinction is made between traditional and foreign fermented beverages. Both groups of products include beers and wines, as well as spirits. The traditional fermented beverages play an important role, particularly in the rural daily life, they are cheap and are usually prepared from locally available ingre dients such as honey, maize, millets or palm-sap. Their age-old manufacturing techniques are known through oral tradition and are often quite primitive. The final products are obtained by way of uncontrolled fermentations, and are mostly consumed in a stage of active fermentation.Except for the spirits, the traditional fermented beverages have only a short shelf-life since excessive souring soon renders them unacceptable.Most foreign fermented beverages have been introduced into Kenya during the period of colonial administration; nowadays, a number are manufactured locally, on a large industrial scale.In Chapter 3, mention is made of recent measures taken by the Kenyan Government to curb alcoholism through prohibition and clo sure of beer halls, and to increase productivity. These measures tend to favour the illegal trade in traditional fermented bever agesand,in particular, the consumption of illicit traditional spirit of dubious quality.The aims of the ensuing study are formulated in Chapter 4, and include providing insight in the consumption of the major Kenyan traditional fermented beverages, their nutritive value, and their possible harmfulness to health. Furthermore, a study will be made of ways of improving upon the quality and shelf-life of a selected traditional beer of superior nutritive value.In Chapter 5, an estimate is made of the total consumption of alcoholic beverages in Kenya. It is shown that the traditional fermented beverages represent a major proportion of the total con sumption of alcohol. This is not surprising since the traditional products are relatively cheap and can be afforded by the majority of the Kenyan public.In the same chapter, it is observed that the consumption of alco hol in Kenya is moderate, compared with other countries. The nutrient content of selected traditional and foreign beverages is compared in Chapter 6. It is concluded that the traditional beer Busaa has the highest nutritive value, particularly when considering its protein, vitamin B 2 , and niacin contents. The nutritive value of the traditional spirit Chang'aa is the least. The consumption of Chang'aa occupies a major proportion of the total quantity of alcohol consumed in Kenya. The chemical composition of this spirit is studied in some further detail in Chapter 7. In particular, the fusel oil content of Chang'aa is studied, as well as the effect of ingredients and distilling techniques on its occurrence in this spirit.In Chapters 8, 9, and 10 several aspects of the manufacture of the traditional beer Busaa are dealt with. In Chapter 8, some microbiological aspects of the traditional manufacture of this beer are discussed. In particular, attention is given to the dominant yeasts and bacteria, involved in the stages of fermentation and subsequent spoilage. In Chapter 9, experimental work is described, aimed at the development of a process for the manufacture of bottled and preserved Busaa. The malt used as ingredient for Busaa is usually obtained from finger millet. In most other African countries however, sorghum is used for such purpose. Although sorghum is easily available in Kenya as well, the Busaa brewers nevertheless prefer the use of finger millet malt for the brewing of Busaa. In Chapter 10 therefore, the germination characteristics and the brewing potential of finger millet and sorghum are compared. Barley is also included in this comparative study, since it is grown in Kenya as ingredient for the manufacture of foreign lager beers. In Chapter 11, the major findings from the study are discussed, and conclusions and recommendations are formulated with regard to a possible control of the consumption of traditional fermented beverages. On the one hand, these are aimed at a reduction and subsequent gradual abolishment of home-brewing of traditional fermented beverages. On the other hand, the consumption of cheap traditional fermented beverages of high nutritive value such as Busaa, is advocated to be allowed to continue off-licence on a restricted scale. Such products should offer a cheap, high-grade substitute for other, less appropriate, products which would eventually be phased out. It is finally observed that an upgrading of the quality and shelf-life of the former beverages would facilitate an adjustment of the present consumption pattern.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Kampelmacher, E.H., Promotor, External person
    Award date9 Sept 1981
    Place of PublicationWageningen
    Publication statusPublished - 1981


    • alcoholic beverages
    • beers
    • brewing
    • food
    • food composition
    • foods
    • kenya
    • minerals
    • nutritive value
    • properties
    • quality
    • salt
    • winemaking
    • wines


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