Business & Economy

La Grilla: Mexican entrepreneurs create insect-based beer

Queretaro, Mexico, Jun 18 (EFE).- Mexican businessmen have created an insect-based beer that they named La Grilla (The Cricket) with an eye toward encouraging the consumption of these little insects as a creative alternative amid the climate crisis.

The idea of using crickets as the raw material for a brand of beer first arose in the central Mexican city of Queretaro as a business venture mounted by the creators of Santena, a company that offers assorted insect-based food products, and Cerveceria Punto Medio, another local company devoted to brewing craft beers.

Alejandro Rivera, a founding partner of Cerveceria Punto Medio, said that the project got started during a meeting he held with Santena general manager Patricio Gutierrez, who was the first to suggest that crickets be included in the new beverage.

“He told me: ‘Hey, what we want to do is show that these kinds of (insect) ingredients can be added to our normal diet and that – although it seems completely crazy – it still tastes good and for people to realize that they can be used in different ways.’ And that’s where it came from: Why don’t we try using it in a beer?” said Rivera.

With this in mind, the pair approached another Mexican brewery, Cerveceria Arellano, well-known for using alternative ingredients in making its products.

After a period of research and testing, the entrepreneurs found that processed crickets taste similar to barley or rye, so they replaced part those grains used in beer production with the pulverized and powdered insects.

“We went for a … dark beer, and we decided to toast … the crickets, replacing 5 percent of the toasted malt and, then, with the base malts and the toasted crickets, the beer takes on a very dark color with this toasted (aspect) like coffee or cocoa,” he said.

Alejandro Bruna, the co-founder of Griyum, the farm where the insects are obtained, explained that crickets contain an amino acid called glutamate, which is often used as a flavor enhancer.

“It has a characteristic flavor known as umami, and this flavor is exactly what is used to make (something) taste more intense to you, so a beer like La Grilla tastes more intense and so, although it’s a porter (beer), it has the flavor of a stout,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez said that his company was founded with the idea of creating much more nutritious and sustainable foods, and that is why they have made insects the basis for their products, given that they are a very abundant natural source of protein that the industry is squandering.

He said that the world needs to start taking advantage of more sustainable protein sources besides livestock, since livestock raising is an industry that is responsible for a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation.

Furthermore, producing a given amount of protein from crickets requires only 4 percent of the natural resources that would be needed to produce the same amount of protein as beef.

“What we’re looking for here with this collaborative venture is to create the awareness that insects can be in all your food and they’re really not going to kill you. They’re not going to affect you and you’re going to get a nutritional benefit. And that’s the idea of this project, to create something unique, Mexican, from Queretaro and which can represent our country and our culture,” he concluded.

EFE –/bp

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