Cerveza de nopal (Nopal Beer)

(Is there anything this plant CAN’T do??)

In 2009 a Czech company began importing from México nopal, grown on the slopes of the Mexican volcano Popocatépetl, as an additive to produce gourmet breads. Nopal is known for having a range of health benefits (See Post on The Medicinal Qualities of Opuntia Cladodes) and it would make a valuable addition to bread as it would lower the Glycaemic Index of the bread and add nutrients and fibre that may be absent when using processed white flour.

Although the nopal was initially slated for making bread it didn’t take long before those wacky beer drinking Czechs soon came up with the idea of (roughly translated) “proč z toho nevyrábíme pivo?” Why don’t we make beer out of it?

In 2012 through consultation with the Mexican nopal exporting company Nopalea, the University of Prague, together with the Health system and the Czech cooperative Ardanas the beer Nopalea C was born in a brewery in Žatec (about 76 km west of Prague).

It is a golden full strength beer with an alcohol content of 4.8% with a balanced bitterness, caramel notes and a slight sweetness. The beer is said to have a high fibre, vitamin and protein content (1) and amongst its many other attributes (along with a natural antibiotic quality) is touted that it helps to stabilize glucose levels, preventing the excess sugar in the blood from turning into fat and as such it is good for diabetics (and athletes and coeliacs).

  1. seventeen amino acids, eight of which are essential amino acids (not produced by the body)

Although the beer is produced in the Czech Republic it is available in Mexico in Nuevo León, Mexico City, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Baja California and Guerrero and a manufacturing plant may soon be established in Nuevo León.


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