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Homebrews: Crafty South Africans make own alcohol to cure lockdown craving

With a blanket ban on alcohol sales and supplies fast drying up for those who didn’t anticipate a lockdown extension, many people were turning their kitchens into mini-breweries.

FILE: The 'isidudo' or grain is squeezed to remove as much liquid after it has been sieved when making umqombothi. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - While President Cyril Ramaphosa mulls calls to relax restrictions around the sale and distribution of alcohol during the nationwide lockdown, South Africans are coming up with crafty ways to quench their thirst.

Under the regulations, no one is allowed to buy, sell, or transport alcohol and this has put government on a collision course with retailers and consumers alike.

With a blanket ban on alcohol sales and supplies fast drying up for those who didn’t anticipate a lockdown extension, many people were turning their kitchens into mini-breweries.

From the traditional sorghum beer to other inventive homebrews like pineapple ale or apple ciders, South Africans are not short of ideas.

But there are warnings of unintended consequences such as alcohol poisoning.

As brewmaster Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela explains, it’s not about just throwing ingredients together.

“Brewing is a process. I’ve had people asking me if I have a recipe for something that can be ready in a day or two – fermentation doesn’t work like that, it’s a process… it cannot be rushed and it usually takes time,” she said.

* Read: Brewmaster Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela takes us through her beer-making journey

The desperation for alcohol saw retailers run out of core ingredients including malt, whose supply was halted during the lockdown in accordance with government regulations.

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa was expected to announce on Friday his response to demands by the Gauteng Liquor Forum to ease the regulations which they said were unconstitutional.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.