by Melanee Meegan, the Minnesota Beer Activist
I had the fortune of staying with Chris O’Brien, when I traveled to Ethiopia last year. Per his request to bring beer with me, I traveled to Ethiopia carrying a six pack of assorted Summit Beers and Superior Ales. The first night I was there he set up a beer tasting to get opinions on some of the beer he’d been brewing. He then proceeded to give me an unofficial beer tour of Ethiopia which included stopping and drinking tella.
(Caption: A cup hanging on top of a stick is a t’ella house’s version of a fluorescent sign saying “the bar is open.”)
Tella is a fermented barley beer that women sell out of their home. They make their living room spaces into a bar area. If there is a cup on a stick in front of the house, it means the bar is open for business. Brewing and selling tella is a way that many women can have their own income. After leaving Ethiopia I had not only learned about the coffee industry but I had become very knowledgeable about the history and politics (and taste!) of beers and spirits of Ethiopia.
(Caption: Drinking a “birille” of Ethiopia’s other fermented beverage: t’ej, a sweet honey wine.)
Chris’ book has finally been published and I haven’t been able to put it down. My favorite chapter is titled “Putting the Ale Back in Female”! After finishing the book I was more than ready to join the beer revolution.