How to Make Zulu Beer: A Traditional African Brew

Many people have their reasons for wanting to know how to make Zulu beer. Over the last few years, during the COVID pandemic, we all ended up making our own alcohol. People also decide to make this even during normal times because most of them only enjoy this type of beer in Zulu culture rather than going to their nearest liquor or bottle store.

Zulu beer, also known as ubrewu or umqombothi, is a traditional beer brewed here in South Africa. It is a staple in many communities and is enjoyed during various celebrations and gatherings. The beer is made from sorghum malt, maize meal, and water, and is fermented for several days to produce a sour, slightly alcoholic beverage.

I’m not much of a beer person, but I can understand why someone would want to make their own traditional beer at home instead of relying on commercial options. It’s a way to connect with their culture and traditions, and it can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.” 

I have family who love and enjoy making this brew using simple ingredients and a method that will work for everyone.


The ingredients needed to make Zulu beer are relatively simple and readily available in most grocery stores. You will need:

Sorghum malt: This is the main ingredient in Zulu beer and provides the sugars needed for fermentation. You can purchase it online or at specialty stores.

maize meal

Maize meal: This is added to the sorghum malt to make a porridge-like consistency. It also provides nutrients and starches for the fermentation process.

Water: The quality of the water used is essential to the taste of the beer.

Yeast: This is used to initiate the fermentation process.

How to Make Zulu Beer: Step by Step Guide

Soak the Sorghum Malt

The first step is to soak the sorghum malt in water for at least six hours. This will help to soften the grains and release the sugars needed for fermentation.

Cook the Maize Meal

While the sorghum malt is soaking, cook the maize meal in water until it becomes a porridge-like consistency. Allow it to cool to room temperature.

Mix the Sorghum Malt and Maize Meal

Once the sorghum malt has soaked, drain off the water and mix it with the cooled maize meal porridge.

Add Water

Add enough water to the mixture to create a thin consistency. This will allow for easy fermentation.

Add Yeast

Add the yeast to the mixture and stir well.

Cover and Ferment

Cover the mixture with a lid or cloth and place it in a warm, dark place to ferment for two to three days. The ideal temperature for fermentation is between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.

Stir and Strain

After two to three days, stir the mixture and strain it through a fine mesh strainer to remove any solids.

Bottle and Age

Bottle the beer in airtight containers and allow it to age for another two to three days. This will allow for the beer to carbonate and develop its distinct flavor.

The above should help you on how to make Zulu beer.

How to Make Zulu Beer

See also: How to make Ujeqe

Tips for Success on How to Make Zulu Beer

  • Use high-quality sorghum malt to ensure the best flavor and fermentation.
  • Use filtered or spring water to prevent any impurities from affecting the taste of the beer.
  • Keep the fermentation temperature consistent to ensure even fermentation.
  • Use a fine mesh strainer to remove any solids from the beer before bottling.
  • Store the beer in a cool, dark place to prevent spoilage.

How to Make Zulu Beer: Conclusion

Anyone can learn how to make Zulu beer, either for pure enjoyment of drinking with friends and family or to just try to be more cultural. While the process of making zulu beer may seem intimidating at first, it is a relatively simple process that can be done with a few basic ingredients and some patience.