SA googles home brewing to beat the booze ban

19 April 2020 - 00:00 By Suthentira Govender
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Colleen Foyn shows off her home-brewed alcohol.
Colleen Foyn shows off her home-brewed alcohol.
Image: Supplied

When President Cyril Ramaphosa extended the lockdown, South African tipplers turned to their fruit bowls and grocery cupboards to concoct their own alcohol.

The two-week extension has given rise to a new movement of home brewers, who are making pineapple beer, apple cider alcohol and even dabbling in a bit of wine-making.

Google SA reported that searches for “alcohol ban South Africa” spiked 500% as the national lockdown entered week two.

High levels of search interest were also seen for the terms “how to get alcohol” and “homemade alcohol”.

The Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo all showed high levels of search interest for “homemade alcohol”.

Related search queries for “homemade alcohol” included “homemade beer recipes South Africa”, “can homemade pineapple beer make you drunk”, “homemade gin”, “homemade alcoholic pineapple beer” and “how to make alcohol at home fast”.

Desperate for an alcoholic fix, Gautenger Colleen Foyn turned to the search engine and started making beer from pineapples. “I also found a recipe for making my own wine, and I’m going to give it bash too.

"This is not illegal and I’m not making it in bulk or to sell to anyone. Who knows, if the wine works out I may be able to start my own little business after lockdown,” Foyn said.

“I would never have attempted to brew myself if I could just buy wine when I wanted to. I could do without it, but perhaps I’m just being a brat because government said I couldn’t have alcohol.”

Foyn is not alone in her home brewing. Scores of South Africans are concocting their own blends in the absence of their favourite drinks, with many sharing recipes on social media platforms like Twitter.

One home brewer, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal, told the Sunday Times he started making pineapple beer because he needed an alternative.

“Firstly, in the absence of alcohol, those of us who partake in the inebriating liquids need alternatives to help us hold a nerve or two in this extended lockdown period. So this establishes the need to drink,” he said.

“Pineapples are easily accessible where I’m from and the ingredients to turn innocent pineapple juice to treacherous liquid are inside every home.” The process involves fermenting pineapple pulp in a container with sugar, water and yeast for about a week.

“The amount of time to craft a perfectly smooth product is relatively short and the fermentation process can be controlled and assessed for quality brew,” the man said.

Another said he was also making home-made alcohol and had no plans to stop.

“I’m not going to stop. I’m also making an apple cider for when the pineapple beer runs out. It’s not illegal. Show me the law that says I cannot make it for personal consumption.”

Home-brewed beer is not illegal in SA provided it is made only for personal consumption and not to be sold for profit.

National police spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo said the Disaster Management Act “did not necessarily” prohibit the making and consumption of home-brewed alcohol.

“This is governed by the Liquor Act,” he said. But he added that he didn’t know exactly “what the act says on this”.

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