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    Something’s brewing

    Are you a brewmeister? Illustration: Ratel

    Don’t mess with a man’s drinking habits during lockdown! That seems to be the message of drinkers who have turned to looting liquor stores in the Western Cape during the lockdown ban on liquor sales. More creative drinkers have in the meantime started quietly making their own brew. There is of course nothing new about this. It’s a tried and trusted African tradition to make your own beer.

    A killjoy called Kilju
    A man who plans to make his own alcoholic ginger beer in the coming days shared some insights with The Grotto. At first he wasn’t planning on making ginger beer. He planned to make Kilju, an alcoholic substance traditionally concocted by the Fins.

    Its foul reputation convinced him to make ginger beer instead, as he hopes this will be tastier. There had been a brief flirtation with a beer recipe, but it did not promise to be intoxicating enough, he felt. Readers need to be warned at this point about the information that our brewmeister friend gives: there is nothing craft beerish about his process. Simply store it under the header of Emergency Measures, brewed up during a trying time.

    A petshop entered the pictured
    Our brewmeister did his shopping online. He bought yeast, raisins, cloves, ginger and a 5 liter pot. Getting hold of a hydrometer, necessary to measure the alcohol content, was more tricky. He was able to find one at an online pet shop of all places but decided against buying it in the end as it was not quite what he was looking for. For a while he was worried about getting yeast, which is essential as it converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. He had yeast but he did not want to use this as he used it to bake bread. Having a scientific bent helped him, as he learnt that he could make the yeast for his bread himself.

    Wannabe brewers, be careful
    Lacking a scientific brain can hinder enthusiastic wannabe beermakers, and even be deadly. The brewmeister warns that sterilising equipment is “very critical.” At this point things may start to sound lethal, and of course things can go very wrong. There are however many stories of expats in Saudi Arabia (where liquor sales are forbidden) who turn to making their own liquor – and who survive drinking it.

    You can turn to the internet for recipes should you feel inspired to make your own beer or Kilju. The South African cookery classic Cook & Enjoy also contains recipes for grain beer, sorghum beer, wheat beer and pineapple beer. Who knows what will emerge from your efforts: a lockdown lite or kick-ass brew.


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