School 2: Fermentation

School 2: Fermentation

This is the second in a series of posts about Mapa da Cachaça’s analysis of different cachaça producing philosophies.


Mapa da Cachaça’s next two schools concern differences in fermentation processes among producers. The first school is what they refer to as Escola Caipira, which I would translate to be something like the Redneck school. In the Caipira school, producers use a process of fermentation that relies on wild fermentation of corn or wheat, mainly corn. The second fermentation school relies on yeast produced in a lab.


These divisions are perhaps the most important in all of cachaça production. Mapa da Cachaça got this one exactly right. However, I do want to reiterate why these schools exist. They’re not just a matter of choice. Local, wild fermentation processes are done mostly out of necessity, not allegiance to these more traditional production methods.  Producers who aren’t wealthy just don’t have the ability to purchase expensive yeast. It’s a huge investment that may or may not pay off.


In terms of the product, these methods provide different sensorial experiences.


The Caipira school tends to produce cachaça with a more diverse sensorial range. Lab-produced yeast tends to be searching for a particular sensorial dynamic, meaning that the cachaças produced will likely be a bit more focused and refined in terms of sensorial impact. The latter is likely to produce more consistent cachaça since the yeast is not subject to environmental interference during its production.


I’m not trying to present these schools as though one produces better cachaça than the other. I don’t believe that is the case. I’m merely offering a perspective on how these differences might impact sensory characteristics.


I’ve enjoyed products created by producers who use both fermentation methods, and I wouldn’t recommend one over the other. I’ll leave that to you as the consumer to decide which you prefer.


The point is that these schools are essential pillars of cachaça, and a given producer’s use of either has a tremendous impact on their final products. Though I don’t think a single producer puts this information on their label, most are pretty open with their production methods. And, as a consumer, one can likely learn to pick out which products are created using wild fermentation and which are created using lab-produced yeast.

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