White Wedding in Itsoseng #7: Brewing Beer


Beer foaming in the cauldrons

For a traditional Tswana feast, they brewed their traditional beer.  This was women’s work, though the men certainly helped drink it.

a4-beer1-2015-01-14 11.15.35a4-beer1-Itsoseng_054

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.

a4-beer2-IMG_8106Then 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.)

a4-beer3-IMG_8097  They cooked it the next morning. Some of it they served us for breakfast: a porridge with a pleasant, slightly sour taste.


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.

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.”


3 thoughts on “White Wedding in Itsoseng #7: Brewing Beer

  1. Pingback: White Wedding in Itsoseng: Contents | jplund

  2. Thank you for sharing your Traditional Tswana Wedding experiences. This helped my grand child Bontle Wilderson understand all the traditional foods and drinks that we always make at home when there are occasions. Now that other Tswana’s do it, she finds the foods interesting. She thought we have a weird sense of taste with Ting!!

    Thank you thank you thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I forwarded your comment to Tsholofelo as soon as I saw it. I am so glad that you let me know that these posts have helped someone to see the value of their heritage.


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