Brewmaster and founder of Kulcha Konkushin, Palesa Mohale is getting people to appreciate their roots by brewing traditional beer on demand. Picture: Supplied
Brewmaster and founder of Kulcha Konkushin, Palesa Mohale is getting people to appreciate their roots by brewing traditional beer on demand. Picture: Supplied

Brewmaster adds flavour to umqombothi

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Apr 28, 2020

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Brewmaster and founder of Kulcha Konkushin, Palesa Mohale is getting people to appreciate their roots by brewing traditional beer on demand.  

Mohale has always loved being creative in the kitchen but never thought it would go as far as her passion being a career. 

Her love for food and beverages started when she was in university where she did her Bachelor of Science and Honours in Microbiology at the University of Pretoria. 

Brewmaster and founder of Kulcha Konkushin, Palesa Mohale is getting people to appreciate their roots by brewing traditional beer on demand. Picture: Supplied

“Food microbiology was the most appealing career path amongst others such as agriculture, medical microbiology, and academic research. One night whilst studying, I came across an article on Apiwe Nxusani - Mawela, the first black female brewmaster in history. Upon my realization that we have a common academic background, I approached her and asked her to be my mentor. Since then, my passion for brewing has not stopped growing. I once featured on a documentary that focuses on contrasting traditional and modern lifestyles. The episode I featured on was focused on brewing. I was then tasked to reinvent umqombothi and give it a modern look and feel. I then decided to introduce flavour to it and serve it cocktail style,” said Mohale. 

She has made appearances at food markets, exhibitions, private functions, beer, and food pairing events as well as weddings.

“The introduction of flavours and cocktail presentation is very appealing to a youthful crowd, breaking the stereotype that umqombothi is for the old. I have received quite a several requests from people asking me to share my secret recipe. Several Africans are moving closer to their roots and embracing their heritage, which is one of the objectives I aim to achieve through Kulcha Konkushin, which is my brand of flavoured sorghum beer.

Brewmaster and founder of Kulcha Konkushin, Palesa Mohale is getting people to appreciate their roots by brewing traditional beer on demand. Picture: Supplied

"Umqombothi as we know it is not easily palatable as it has some sour notes. Introducing flavour to it gives it a sweet and fruity aroma and taste, making it easier to enjoy. Kulcha Konkushin is available in a number flavours including banana, pineapple, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate to name a few.” said Mohale. 

The lockdown is seeing many people explore making their own liquor at home. From umqombothi and pineapple beer, to home made ciders, there's a boom in people creating their own since there's a ban on alcohol sales at the moment.

Asked what people should be aware of when making their own beer at home, she said that the production of alcohol is a metabolic reaction where yeast converts sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, which gives beer its fizz, therefore it is crucial that home brewers understand that no other chemicals are added to their brews besides  food grade flavourants and food products. 


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