White Wedding in Itsoseng #7: Brewing Beer

Posted on  on jplund.wordpress.com .

[JP Lund was my freshman year roommate in college. We recently reconnected via the blogosphere. I tried piecing together a narrative to give context to the characters and events, but then decided that JP’s pictures and words were context enough to depict the universal quality of beer. Itsoseng is a town in South Africa. SB SM]

a4-beer1-2015-01-14 11.15.35
For a traditional Tswana feast, they brewed their traditional beer.  This was women’s work, though the men certainly helped drink it.
They began on Wednesday, starting with a mixture of sorghum and corn meal.  They added water.  They allowed the foreigners to learn what the proper consistency was
Then they set it out overnight. They did not add yeast, but let the soaking grain pick up whatever was in the air.  (If you try this in America, you will probably get a different result.)
Some of it they served us for breakfast: a porridge with a pleasant, slightly sour taste
They cooked it the next morning.
They let the porridge cool.

Then, they poured the it into large caldrons and stirred.  They let is it sit, allowing nature took its course.

After the beer reached the foamy consistency shown at the top, they removed the solids, pouring it through a special colander with a screen the bottom.  They squeezed out any remaining juice.

Beer foaming in the cauldrons

The beer was ready to drink on Friday, though it continued to ferment.  I joined some men sitting in the shade, drinking beer from cans.  One went to get some of the home brew.  He had a plastic two liter coke bottle with the top ripped off which he dipped it into a vat of beer.  Frankly, it looked frightening, but when the bottle was passed around, I took a polite sip.  The others gulped it down.  It was treated as communal property.

The next day at the wedding feast, we, as honored guests, were served some of the beer. (I don’t know how much was left after Friday.)  It was stronger.  We passed the glass around, just as the Africans did, though we sipped it cautiously.  When the glass got to the  little old African lady sitting beside me, she took a huge long gulp.  Then she looked at the glass, which had a little bit left, and finished it.  There was more in the pitcher.

Even in a regular glass, the beer looks a little dangerous, or, with a different point of view, vaguely like a frothy root beer ice cream concoction.  It has a unique, rather sour flavor, which most of us Americans liked, though we were not so ethusiastic as to gulp it down like the Tswana.

Tsholofelo’s parents, Sioto and Kerileng, do not drink alcohol, and normally, the family does not drink in their presence.  We were told that they typically wait until Sioto leaves a party before they opening the liquor or beer.  For the wedding celebration, all this was put aside, and the alcohol flowed freely.  As Frank (I don’t know his Tswana name) told me, “We drink a lot, actually.”

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑