Recipes

How to easily brew your own beer using pineapple, ginger or sorghum

Many of us are holding thumbs that the lockdown ban on booze sales will be lifted at some point. In the meantime, here are four simple recipes to brew your own beer using everyday ingredients

17 April 2020 - 09:45
Using both the flesh and skin of the fruit will give your pineapple beer more flavour.
Using both the flesh and skin of the fruit will give your pineapple beer more flavour.
Image: 123RF/Svitlana Tereshchenko

PINEAPPLE BEER

I have fond memories of my mother who, together with a friend, would always ensure they kept the skins from pineapples to make this fruity beer, which went down a treat in Durban's tropical climate. Of course children weren't allowed to partake in the pleasure of the beer, but we always managed a sip or two on the QT. 

This recipe comes from the late SJA de Villiers's book, Cook & Enjoy It: South African Cookery Manual. It uses both the skins and the fruit of the pineapple, which gives the beer a stronger flavour.

Makes: about 4 litres

What you'll need:

10 litre plastic container or bucket, well washed

Dishcloth

Fine sieve, muslin cloth or a piece of netting

2 x 2 litre cooldrink bottles with lids, well washed

Ingredients:

2 large ripe pineapples

4- 5 litres freshly boiled water (the amount depends on the size of the pineapples)

4 cups (800g) sugar or more to taste

Ice and fresh pineapple slices (optional), to serve

How to brew it:

  1. Remove the green stalks from the pineapples and rinse and scrub the fruit well.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the pineapple (skin included) into pieces.
  3. Place the pineapple in the bucket and pour over the boiling water. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
  4. Cover with a clean dishcloth and leave in a warm place for 2-3 days. The longer you leave the mixture the more it will ferment.
  5. Strain mixture through a fine sieve, a muslin cloth or a piece of netting. Pour into the cooldrink bottles; don't seal the bottles too tightly*.
  6. Chill and serve with lots of ice and a slice of pineapple if desired.

GINGER BEER

Homemade ginger beer was ritually made by my grandmother, who would make it for holiday celebrations. The most exciting part was watching the bottles being opened and waiting for the fizz. 

Here are two versions. The first is a traditional recipe that calls for dry yeast; it comes from The A-Z of Food & Cookery in South Africa by doyen of the local food scene, Sannie Smit. The second is a super quick yeast-free ginger beer that's inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Homemade ginger beer.
Homemade ginger beer.
Image: Craig Scott

TRADITIONAL GINGER BEER

Makes: about 4 ½ litres

What you'll need:

Large ceramic or enamel container (big enough to hold 4 litres of water)

Dishcloth

Fine sieve, muslin cloth or a piece of netting

Bottles with clip-on lids or 3 x 2 litre cooldrink bottles with lids, well washed

Ingredients:

500g (2 ½ cups) sugar

150g dried ginger, crushed, or 300g fresh ginger, sliced

A handful of raisins (If you can find the ones that still have their seeds it will aid the fermentation process)

Peel and juice of  1 lemon

4 litres of freshly boiled water

10ml (2 tsp) dry yeast NOT instant yeast

How to brew it:

  1. Place the sugar, ginger, raisins, lemon peel and juice in a container.
  2. Pour over the boiled water and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Dissolve the yeast in 45ml (3 tbsp) of water, then add to the sugar and ginger solution. Stir well.
  4. Cover the mixture with a clean dishcloth and place in a cool place for 12 hours. When the raisins start to float the mixture is bubbly.
  5. Strain it through a fine sieve, muslin cloth or piece of netting and pour the liquid into the bottles. Don't seal the bottles too tightly*.
  6. Refrigerate and serve ice cold.

QUICK YEAST-FREE GINGER BEER

Makes: 1 litre

Ingredients:

150g fresh ginger, peeled

Finely grated rind and juice of 2 lemons

60-75ml  (4-5 tbsp) sugar

1 litre sparkling water

Ice and finely sliced fresh ginger (optional), to serve

How to brew it:

  1. Grate the ginger on the fine side of a grater over a jug to capture both the grated ginger and any juice.
  2. Add the lemon rind and juice and mix through.
  3. Stir through the sugar and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
  4. Just before serving pour over the sparkling water and stir through. Add ice cubes and finely sliced ginger, if using, and serve in glasses.

SORGHUM BEER (UMQOMBOTHI)

This is foodie Dorah Sitole's recipe taken from the cookbook Tastes: Thoughts of South African Cuisine by Hilary Biller and John Peacock.

You'll find the key ingredient, sorghum, in the supermarket: buy a coarse sorghum meal not the fine or instant sorghum/Maltabella porridge meal.

Before starting ensure you have the right equipment to manage a large volume of beer. If not, consider halving the recipe.

Beyond beer, sorghum can also be used to bake bread and make syrup.
Beyond beer, sorghum can also be used to bake bread and make syrup.
Image: 123RF/artistrobd

Makes: 10 litres

What you'll need:

20 litre plastic container or bucket, well washed

20 litre saucepan

Large dishcloth

Large conical sieve

5 x 2 litre cooldrink bottles with lids, well washed

Ingredients:

6kg mtombo (sorghum) 

3kg mealie meal

5 litres boiling water

6 litres cold water

How to brew it:

  1. Mix half the sorghum with the mealie meal and add the boiling water. Leave to cool.
  2. Stir in another 1kg of the sorghum. Allow to stand overnight.
  3. The next day place the mixture in a large saucepan, add 3 litres of cold water, bring to the boil and boil for an hour. Leave to cool.
  4. Place mixture in a large bucket and add the remaining 2kg sorghum. Add the remaining 3 litres of cold water and mix well. 
  5. Cover mixture with a damp cloth and allow to stand for at least 12 hours to brew. For a stronger brew leave it for a further 12 hours.
  6. Strain the mixture well through the sieve, making sure all the liquid is pressed out. Pour into the cooldrink bottles; don't seal the bottles too tightly*.
  7. Serve cold.

* When making your own beer, don't seal the bottles too tightly as the fermentation causes a strong pressure to build up. It's best to store the bottles somewhere where, if they happen to pop, the lids won't cause any damage.

• A word of caution: home brews can become undrinkable if stored incorrectly or for too long. If there is any fungal growth, if the brew tastes "off" or has an unpleasant smell beyond the yeast undertones, don't take any chances: rather throw it away. Also ensure that whatever utensils you use to home brew are scrupulously clean; sterilising them in boiling water is best.