Chic African Culture Blog

Zulu African Beer Making

Zulu tribes people have a long steeped tradition of beer making. For generations homemade beer or Ubhiya in the Zulu language has played an essential role in Zulu rituals and traditions.

Enjoying a drink with friends
Enjoying a drink with friends

Zulu Beer Making

Drink beer in africa
Drink beer in africa

Home brewing beer is a labor-intensive process as well as an exact science. Zulu Beer is an age-old brewing practice used to bring people together to share at weddings, funerals, and traditional occasions or relaxing at home with family and neighbors. 

Women in a special hut that is not completely covered by a roof so smoke can escape brew traditional Zulu beer. Zulu beer strainer and skimmer also known as Isikhetho is a cone shaped basket made of grass, some are tightly weaved in texture as to be capable of holding liquids

Traditional Zulu beer strainers and skimmers are usually handmade by women of beer making households or as a means of income to sell in local markets.
To obtain malt for beer, the grain, either maize or millet is soaked, wrapped in a mat, and left to sprout. It is then ground into meal and added to hot water, then is placed into a large pot, boiled for about 30 minutes and removed from the fire.

Zulu tribes people have a long steeped tradition of beer making. For generations homemade beer or Ubhiya in the Zulu language has played an essential role in Zulu rituals and traditions.
Making beer

During the fermentation, which continues for many days, the scum is removed with an instrument called a beer-skimmer or Isikrini sebheya which is made for this purpose, today many people use a spoon to remove the scum. The scum is not thrown away but used later on in other batches of home the craft beer making process. The malt is then added and beer is left to ferment.
When poured out for drinking, beer passes through a beer-strainer or Umsizi weBhiya for filtration; modern tools may include netting or cheesecloth. As in most African cultures, paying homage to your ancestors is an import part of the beer making process. Ancestors are given the first sip of beer by pouring the beer into a clay pot in a special room in the house.
Zulu beer has a very low alcohol content of about 2-3% and is made up by as much as 90% water and many beer-brewing households became famous for their particular type of beer, and the individual flavors of their beer strongly influenced by the brewing water’s pH and mineral content.

Zulu beer glossary translations

Alcohol – Utshwala
Beer- Ubhiya
Beer-strainer - Umsizi weBhiya
Beer-skimmer  - Isikrini sebheya
Beer- vessel  - Ubhiya – isitsha
Sorghum – Isihlahla
Wheat or Corn - Ukolweni
Fermentation – Ukuvutha
Water – Amanzi
Yeast – Ingwebu
Zulu African Beer Making

Three Zulu African beer facts

Zulu beer brewing is a three-day brewing process.
On the third day the beer brew is filtered and can be consumed the same day.
Homemade Zulu beer is a traditional beverage with a low alcohol content of about 2-3%.

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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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