Note: some of the horses in the picture are stallions, and not to be milked ; )
Before writing this post I feel I should lay my cards on the table; I absolutely detest milk. I’m lactose intolerant, so I’ve never drank a glass of cow’s milk in my life. As a nipper I was force fed soya and goats milk, all in my own best interests of course, and now as a result I would rather lick the…… of a….. than drink a glass of milk. Its a drink for baby cows for fecks sake, why do grown men and women need to be drinking it?
That said, the thing about travel that I love the most is trying local foods and drinks. So when I was offered a frothy glass of mare’s milk while thawing out in Kyrgyzstan two weeks ago, it was with mixed feelings that I accepted.
Fermented mare’s milk is pretty important to the peoples of central Asia with roots in a nomadic horse culture and is found in Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
One of the girls who gave me the Kumis, explained the brewing process:
- The fresh horse milk is put into a wide plastic basin
- Bread is added to provide the yeasts for fermentation
- Sugar is added to boost the alcohol content
- The milk is stirred regularly for a couple of days
- Mixture is strained through muslin
The result is a frothy drink of 2-3% alc that needs to be chilled and consumed within a few days of fermentation.
How does it taste? I wrote the following note, in the WSET systematic style, in my journal
Details:Kumis, Kyrgyzstan, Homebrew, Horse, price unknown.
Appearance: White, Opaque Intensity, Frothy, No Visible Legs(tasted in chipped mug)
Nose: Clean, Simple, Medium Intensity, Youthful. Yeast, Rotting Apples, Sourdough Bread, Salami
Palate: Off Dry, Medium + Acidity, No Tannin evident, Low Alcohol Level, Medium to Full Body, Frothy Textured and Faint Petialance, long unharmonious finish of cooking apples, salami and sourdough
I got a little kick out of sitting at 2,500m in the Kyrgyz mountains, cross legged in a caravan, wearing the same cycling shorts for four days straight and using skills I’d learned in Dublin and Melbourne to taste a mug of Mare’s Milk handed to me by an old woman with bridgework that Goldie would have been envious of.
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