Lockdown drinks - how to make pineapple beer

more than a year ago
As South Africa's lockdown restrictions on alcohol sales continue the nation has become temporarily obsessed with making beer at home (which has been deemed legal in case you are worried). By far the most popular, and easiest to make, is pineapple beer. We too have joined in the pineapple brewing craze, and while we can't say we wouldn't rather just go out and buy a regular beer made by the professionals, it's not bad.

If you haven't yet got to grips with making your own pineapple beer, here are our tips on how to do it. This recipe is based on a popular recipe from iHarare that did the rounds on whatsapp, with some improvements made to it based on Sunday Times Food writer Hillary Biller's recipe. You can find Hillary's full recipe here on the My Social Kitchen website and watch her video lesson on how to make it.


Pineapples - 4 large pineapples
Sugar - 1 kilo
Yeast - 1 packet (optional!)
Water - 10 litres


A suitable 'brewing' vessel
Most recipes suggest a bucket with a lid, but if you don't have one a large plastic container will suffice. As we didn't have either of these we improvised and used 5L water bottles and got results. While dropping countless pieces of pineapple into a water bottle is extremely time-consuming, it does at least make pouring out the beer relatively easy.

Muslin cloth
You will need a muslin cloth to strain your beer. As we did not have muslin cloth we followed chef David Higgs' advice and improvised with a (clean) all-purpose cleaning cloth.

Plastic bottles to put your brew in
It is highly recommended you put your brew into plastic bottles. There is a chance if the drink is very fizzy that it can explode, potentially causing you injury if the beer is in glass bottles.


Before you start, make sure that everything you are using - the vessel, your chopping board and knife - are sterile. You can do this by soaking in boiling water, and of course washing your hands thoroughly before you start doing anything.

Take the tops off your pineapples and then commence chopping the pineapple all up into small 'bite-size' pieces - including the skins. This recipe does not work without the pineapple skins, they are the essential yeast-makers in the process. Place all the pineapple in your vessel and then pour over the sugar and the water. Mix everything.

Hot or cold water?
There is some debate over whether you should use hot water or cold. Some recipes call for boiling water, some do not specify. As we were using water bottles on our first batch, we opted for lukewarm water. Once we get a proper bucket, we'll be giving hot water a try! Most experts recommend half boiling water topped up with half room temperature water. 

Yeast or no yeast?
As with the hot water there is also some debate as to whether you need yeast or not. We followed youtube home cook Reality with Zee's technique and added a sachet of bakers yeast on top at the end for good luck. 

Once everything is in its time to cover the brew and wait. Place a dishcloth over your vessel and gently place the lid on top. Do not close the lid! Once your fermentation gets going you risk a potential pineapple juice explosion during the fermentation period.

How long to wait?
Most recipes recommend waiting for three days before you start decanting to bottles. It is said the longer you leave it to 'brew' the more alcoholic it gets. However, the longer it is left the more chance you will lose fizz and risk a bitter and flat brew.

We found three days was an ideal wait time for a good tasting drink. From Day 1 you should already see a lot of 'froth' on the top of the brew. That's the pineapples fermenting.

Straining and decanting
Once you are ready to uncork the brew, make sure you have plenty of sterile plastic bottles ready to decant to. Place your cloth atop a jug and slowly start straining your beer. Some brewers believe a double strain is worth it to make sure you have no pineapple 'floaters'. Again don't seal your bottles too tightly - they can also start exploding in the fridge.

Once you have decanted your beer, leave it for the rest of the day before you stick in the fridge to chill before drinking. If you are worried about pineapple beer spillages and explosions, store the bottles in your cooler box. 

*Like the rest of the nation we have been following these recipes rather blindly at home on the recommendation of chefs and friends, mainly just for fun and to pass the time.  We cannot take any responsibility for how your brew will turn out! We are not professional brewers, we are just curious drinkers.

Please do let us know in the comments if you have any extra tips and tricks for making pineapple beer. Next week - if all goes to plan - we'll also share some fresh tips on how to make your own cider at home.

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