Friday, April 11, 2008


Bad news, faithful readers. The project has failed. Dysmally.

A few days ago, I was all redy to brew. The Sorghum was malted. The Millet was dried. The plantains were a wonderful shade of black. So my roommates and I began the brewing process by grinding up the millet while starting to remove the stems of the Sorghum (some of my sources said that they were poisonous).

The problem is that one of these processes proceeded far faster than the other. There was no efficient way to remove the stems from the Sorghum, so that hours after the millet was ground and ready to go, we barely had a handful of de-stemmed Sorghum. By this time, it was quite late at night, so we gave it a rest.

Just a day and a bit later, I went back to have another go at the Sorghum, perhaps to find a more efficient means of stem removal. However, one look at the millet told me that my dream of an African beer brewed in Halifax was over. My camera isn't working at the moment, but suffice to say the bag of millet had taken on a particularly nasty shade of teal-green. Not something I would want to drink.

But not all is lost. I have learned things from this project:

1) Malting is not as easy as it sounds. As primitive as some of the cultures that brew this beer may be by European standards, they could not have pull off the malting of the Sorghum and Millet without a substantial amount of craft knowledge.

2) Climate is everything. The grains were meant to be dried in the hot African sun after malting. Maybe this would make the stems easier to remove. Unfortunately, Halifax does not have a hot African sun.

3) This is a very time-consuming style of beer to brew. Clearly a lot of effort goes into its production even in the right conditions.

I am giving up, but only for now. I still have a whole bunch of malted sorghum, and hopefully it will indeed become beer in the future. Until then, I can only hope that Dr. McQuat is merciful.

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