(The Session is a monthly group blogging event. Learn more about it here.)
This month’s topic for The Session is fruit beer, hosted by Greg Clow at Beer, Beats, and Bites. Here’s my contribution to the fruitiness.
Mfula Mfula, also called riva riva in English, and nicknamed ‘cream of tart’, is a Zulu fermentation of bread, oats, sugar and pineapple. The base of bread and oats makes this technically a beer, fortified with processed cane sugar plus the natural sugar of the pineapple.
I brewed a 20 liter batch with a friend who worked in the kitchen of the hotel where I brewed beer. Here’s a recipe and some photos from our brewing session.
Ingredients for 20 Liters of Mfula Mfula
20 liters warm water
3 loaves of bread
About 20-25 stale rolls
½ kg jungle oats
1 kg brown sugar
20 mg powdered bread yeast
Chop pineapple and crumble bread. Mix all ingredients well by hand until bread crumbs are very fine. Close lid loosely and leave over night to ferment. In the morning, strain the coarse chunks of pineapple and bread with a large strainer. We used a plastic net sack, the kind you get with a bag of oranges. Strain a second time with a fine sieve. Add a small does more of sugar upon serving in order to sweeten the taste and cut down on the strong, warm alcohol overtones. The whole batch should be consumed within one day.
Crumble the old bread into a bucket full of water.
Add brown sugar, oats and pineapple.
Mush it all together real good.
Add a few packets of regular old bread yeast.
Put a lid on it and let it ferment overnight. But don’t seal it tightly or else you’ll get a blowover like we did – I insisted we close the lid tight even though she told me it wasn’t important! You could seal it tightly and put a blowoff tube through the lid but keeping this sucker airtight isn’t really necessary because it’ll still be very much alive when you drink it the next day. There’s no time for nasties to get a foothold and make it taste weird – I mean, weird is a matter of taste I suppose.
Strain it once through something coarse like this netting from an orange bag.
Then put it through a finer sieve to filter out some smaller bits.
Enjoy! It’s white and very frothy like a white water river, hence the moniker “riva riva.”
I was told that this beer evolved in part due to the alcohol laws of Apartheid. For a period, black South Africans were prohibited from making or consuming alcohol. Eventually they were permitted to buy and consume drink, but only from government owned “shebeens.” So, just like Prohibition in the U.S., the illegal trade in alcohol focused on high potency – brewing a low-alcohol session beer was hardly worth the risk of being thrown in a South African jail, or worse.