Pop Culture and Japan

Fire Water Of The Kamuni: Burash

Japanese spirits like shochu aren’t that well-known in Western countries. But when you develop a taste for shochu, it’s easy to disappear down the rabbit hole and drinking the spirit has inspired the creation of a spirit for my horror world of The Frontier.

No matter where you come from on The Frontier, alcohol is the great equaliser, playing a vital role in religionpolitics and everyday life. The same goes for the kamuni, who use alcohol as a way to be closer to their beliefs, celebrate and mark important milestones.

A popular drink within kamuni culture is burash, a type of spirit that can be made from several ingredients and has a huge range of flavour profiles.

What is burash?

Burash is similar to tinek, in the sense of some of the same ingredients being used to produce it.  The spirit is made from water, wild yeasts, a starch component and jiok, a type of fungus native to the kamuni homeland of Suwanichi.

The difference lies in burash being a distilled beverage, while tinek is brewed and there’s a wider range of ingredients used. The starch base includes potatoes, barley, wheat, red sugar, rice and much more. Tinek is exclusively brewed using rice.

Burash also originated in the far southern side of Suwanichi, in the region of Galatia, which has a tropical microclimate that helped to perfect the earliest versions of the spirit.

Overtime, burash spread across the land and different regions and tribes became specialised in making different types of burash. For example, tribes of the south have a fondness for producing and drinking potato burash, while northern tribes are known for their love of red sugar burash.

How is burash produced?

Burash is produced using a two-step fermentation technique that is then distilled. The first step is that distillers will prepare the jiok-infused base starch ingredient e.g. potatoes for a period of 48 hours out in the open air and then it’s transferred into a specialised pot for the first fermentation.

This step involves half of the jiok/starch mixture being blended with water and wild yeasts at a certain temperature. The jiok helps to convert starch into sugar and sugar into alcohol, making way for the second fermentation, where the other half of the main starter is added in with more water and yeast.

After a full week of fermentation, the mash is transferred into a cedar still for the distillation process and this enables the ‘heads’ of the spirit to be separated into a drink that can have wildly different flavours.

The result is a clear to light yellow or reddish spirit that can be anywhere between 25% to 60% ABV.

What is the opinion of burash on The Frontier?

Burash is an even more niche drink than tinek and the average frontiersman would struggle to comprehend it beyond the view of being a ‘savage’s drink.’

That hasn’t stopped kamuni of The Frontier producing burash and using modern technology to improve the distillation process with copper stills. This has led to creation of several backwoods stills within kamuni settlements, whose families brought burash with them centuries ago.

At The Dead Of Dusk by Jamie Ryder.

Discover more of The Frontier in AT THE DEAD OF DUSK. Infamous witch hunter Clay McNab is tasked with transporting a young woman across a land of darkness and along the way he’s confronted by monsters, magic and mayhem. Purchase it today!

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