Three easy ways to give your pineapple beer extra zing

Getting a bit bored with the same old home brew? Try these ideas to literally spice things up

12 August 2020 - 09:32 By Toni Jaye Singer
The flavours of pineapples and chillies work well together. This drink has been garnished with fresh coriander.
The flavours of pineapples and chillies work well together. This drink has been garnished with fresh coriander.
Image: 123RF/Maryna Voronova

It’s prohibition take two, which means enterprising South Africans have had plenty of time to perfect the art of making pineapple beer at home. It also means many of us are getting tired of pouring the same old sip every time locktail hour rolls around.

If you’re bored with your home brew, it’s easy to literally spice things up with a couple of basic ingredients. Here are some ideas:


Joburg chef Richard Loubser’s first few batches of pineapple beer were a straightforward mix of fresh fruit, water, sugar, raisins, and yeast.

While Loubser says his home brew was “good”, he wanted to give it some extra flavour. So when the second booze ban rolled around, he started experimenting and added some freshly-juiced ginger.

“I like the fresh bite the ginger gives the pineapple beer — it adds a bit of zing,” he says.


Street vendors in parts of Mexico sell a home brew called tepache de pina, the origins of which apparently date back to pre-Hispanic times.

Recipes for the fermented pineapple drink abound on the internet and feature an array of warming spices such as allspice, cloves or star anise. What many of them have in common, however, is the addition of cinnamon sticks.


Celeb chef David Higgs shared a YouTube video showing his fans how to make a home brew during SA’s first “prohibition”. His list of ingredients included a large, roughly chopped chilli because, he explained, “I like that burn in the back of the throat.”

Though Higgs was making a ginger beer rather than a tropical fruit-based one, chilli and pineapple are flavours that play well together — think of the fresh pineapple salsa you’d dollop on a taco, or the pineapple-chilli margaritas you’d find on cocktail menus when these were freely handed out at restaurants.

In her article, Home brewing: there's life beyond pineapple beer, Sunday Times Food editor Hilary Biller also recalls that her mother used to serve her homemade pineapple beer garnished with slices of fresh pineapple dusted with chilli spice.

A word of caution: If at any stage of the pineapple beer-making process you notice mould has formed, or if the brew has an unpleasant smell or tastes “off”, throw it out as it may be toxic. Also make sure any utensils you use to make your home brew have been sterilised.