It’s Friday, and in pre-lockdown times that would mean ending the week with a cold one before gearing up for the weekend.
I’m tearing up just thinking about it.
If you managed to stock up on your favourite tipple before lockdown, your stores are probably running low, if not entirely depleted by now.
For a number of South Africans, who believed that the lockdown would be over after 21 days, it was gone a long time ago.
It’s no surprise, all considered, that we saw an uptick in Google searches on how to make booze at home, alongside an alarming rise in the popularity of pineapples.
While it might seem like a great idea to make your own alcohol under the circumstances, IOL spoke to a couple of experts in the field, like Hope Distillery’s Lucy Beard, who says it’s risky business.
“Be warned, it can be dangerous and it may be challenging to get anything vaguely palatable. As many know, any starch or sugar source can be fermented and then distilled to produce liquor (mampoer from peaches and witblits from grape are well known): however, it can be both dangerous to make and dangerous to drink,” she said.
The distilling process produces some highly flammable vapours which are not ideal if you’re keen on not risking a fire. The resultant booze is also likely to contain methanol, which in large quantities can cause blindness or severe poisoning.
“Home stills are usually quite unsophisticated, and so it is very difficult to distil to a high proof, this results in alcohol that is “under distilled” and full of impurities which won’t taste great and will leave you with a monster hangover.”
Founder of Brewsters Craft, Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, also weighed in on the risks.
“The brews people make at home are for human consumption and thus people making them need to be aware of the food safety requirements to ensure the product doesn’t cause harm to whoever will be consuming it. This means making use of ingredients safe for human consumption, making sure all utensils used during the brewing process are clean and sanitized, making sure there is no introduction of other material – like methylated spirits , which are harmful.”
The long and short of it is, if your expertise wasn’t in alcohol manufacturing before the lockdown, you should exercise caution when trying your hand at it now. You wouldn’t let an engineer perform surgery on you, so stay within your wheelhouse.
While it’s tough, and a bottle of the good stuff would go a long way towards taking the edge off, the old adage applies: better safe than sorry.
In the meantime, we’re dreaming about how good that first sip of beer is going to be when we’re back in the world, with friends and family, toasting from a safe physical distance.
Hang in there.
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