In a remote and beautiful part of South Africa over the nights leading up to New Year’s Eve, I was lucky enough to meet an excitable bearded man and his equally energetic and bubbly partner. Little did I know that these two were planning an epic trip on motorbikes around Africa for an entire year with the help of two other avid explorers. It was here that Wild Frontiers involvement with their journey would start. A few months later Trent “Barefoot” Seiler, leader of the Nomads and avid beard enthusiast, came to our offices to meet the man who had done it all before: John Addison. Many a beer was drunk and stories were swapped, before Trent set off back home. Their team leaves on 1 April and we will be doing our best to keep up with their story and offer support where we can. Keep checking our blog where we will be chronicling their journey throughout Africa and to the wildest of frontiers. If you want to keep up with their Facebook page go here.
Below is an adaptation of their blog post on brewing traditional marula beer. Find the original here.
Marula Beer: Brewing a beer that’s truly African
Marula and alcohol have become synonymous with one another in Africa. Viral videos of drunken animals such as elephants, baboons and giraffe have made the rounds on YouTube and the tale goes that this is caused by them eating fermented marula fruits off the floor. Sadly this is untrue, but that’s not to say you can’t turn these succulent little fruits into a refreshing brew. Amarula is a creamy liquer that evokes feelings of being in Africa on the dusty savannah and is world renowned. But sometimes you simply want a cold, refreshing pint of something. This is where the Nomads have excelled with this very detailed recipe on making a traditional Marula beer, also known as Mukumbi to the Venda people. This beer has been used in ceremonies for centuries but has recently been a large source of income for unemployed women in the Limpopo province of South Africa, where you can regularly see them selling it on the side of the road.
The Nitty Gritty Nomads, not being individuals to miss an opportunity to indulge in African culture, decided to make their own batch of Mukumbi. Check out the process and story below:
Beer making process!
Start by collecting your Marulas. You’ll most likely need to collect roughly 3 trees worth of fallen Marulas, so make sure you have a cold drink to look forward to after all the bending down to get them off the floor. Then rinse/wash the fruit and grab all your other tools for the job.
- Marulas (lots. If you think you have enough, get more)
- two or three buckets (one with a sealable lid)
- a knife (they aren’t going to cut themselves)
- 2 spatulas
- 1 cup of sugar (optional)
- potato masher
Cut the marulas along the equator of the fruit, twist and squeeze the pip, flesh and juice out of the skin.
Continue to do this with all of the marulas, you can throw ones that have already fermented away (your choice).
Once you have finished peeling the fruit, add water (enough to cover the fruit) and begin mashing the fruit with a potato masher to remove some of the flesh and the juice from the stone in the center.
When you are confident you have mashed the fruit enough squeeze the fruit a few at a time just to collect as much of the liquid as you can (like the guy below).
Once all this is done, the traditional beer making process is now complete, additionally you can add a cup of sugar to +/- 2 liters of liquid to assist with the fermentation process and sweeten up the beer slightly.
Now you have the product of your extensive efforts. Time to seal the beer, put the lid on the bucket and wait between 2 and 4 days. Remember to release the pressure once a day by opening the lid (to avoid explosions). After 4 days there should be a thick head of foam that smells a bit like vinegar.
Remove the foam using a spatula, spatulas or sieve. The below liquid should not smell vinegary. It tastes fresh, yeasty and bubbly, with an almost pineapple twist.
Bottle or jar the remaining product and dispose of the foam.
Store in a cool place for a few days, after which you have a lovely golden elixir that tastes a bit like ginger beer with a pineapple/marula twist.
Drink this beer and feel as content and pleased as this guy.
Keep up with the Nomads
Follow the Nitty Gritty Nomad’s year long motorcycle journey as they zig-zag through Africa, discovering cultures, exotic foods, archaeological hotspots as well as drinks!
Please contact them if you live in Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi or Tanzania and know of any beautiful places, traditional recipes, archaeological sites or just good places to visit and stay at on their Motorcycle trip through Africa! (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Like their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TheNittyGrittyNomads), try their recipe and give them some feedback!