Sorghum Blonde

As I wrote in my earlier post, I am on a quest to brew with Indian ingredients. This time its a new grain. How about brewing with Jowar ( Sorghum ) ? It is available in any grocery store and is mainly used to make Bhakari ( a type of roti common in Maharashtra ).

Recipe development

From previous experience I know that grains only give a background flavour to the beer. Since the idea was to find out the contribution of the grain, I chose a relatively clean beer in terms of grains that will let the Jowar shine. A blonde ale.
I like unmalted grain, since in most cases I find that unmalted grains give more flavor than the malted versions. I know the experts are going to debate on this one.

I am still not sure about the exact gelatinization temp of Jowar available in India. General range is from 68-76C from a brewing book talking about African Sorgum. So cereal mash was a safe way to go. I will explain the simple process below.
More details on a cereal mash here -

As the wort fermented, the hophead in me overpowered my otherwise logical brain and I decided to dry hop the beer. ( I was going to let the Jowar shine, what happened to that ? )


8 L, All-grain OG = 1.048  FG = 1.010 IBU = 9

1.3kgs Marris Otter Malt ( You can use any pale ale or pilsner malt )
600g Jowar Cereal Mashed

2g Columbus ( 60 mins )
9g Amarillo ( Dry hop ) 

9g Sorachi Ace ( Dry Hop )

3g Safale US05

How to brew 

  • Crush the Jowar in a home mixer grinder or a mill to make coarse powder. Do not use your normal malt mill, it will most probably get jammed.
  • Take a thick bottomed pot with 2 liters of water and bring the water to a boil.
  • Slowly add the jowar to the water, stirring continuously.
  • Keep stirring to avoid stuff sticking at the bottom of the pot
  • Boil for 20 mins. If you find that the gooey mixture is unmanageable, add more water to it.
  • On the other side, start your main mash with the barley malt in your regular vessel.
  • Now you need to the cool down the mixture to 67C, this can be done by adding some cold water and stirring to achieve 67C.
  • Add it to the main mash.
Now you can continue with your normal mash and boil.

Cooking Sorghum in a thick pot

Tasting notes

This was one of those beers that you don't even need to taste to appreciate it. Amarillo and Sorachi Ace hops gave a heavenly aroma to the beer. There were all sorts of fruits from raw mangoes to lime and oranges.
Now when you actually taste the beer, there is a distinct sweetness from the Jowar. There was even a slight tang. There was so much more perceived body to the beer than reflected by the final gravity.
Overall a great combination.

Everyone who tasted the beer wanted a bottle to take back home.

Later I brewed the beer with lesser percentage of Jowar, and found that the optimal ratio was somewhere around 20% of the total grist bill.

Next time

I would try tropical New Zealand hops like Mosiac, Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, etc.
Can I use Jowar in a Porter or a brown ale ? Lets see.


  1. Very interesting!! Can't wait to try it out, here in South Africa & the rest of Africa Sorghum Beer is still very popular! Will give feedback once done! Thanks for sharing!!


    1. It will be great if you can point me to some Sorghum Beer recipes that are popular in South Africa.
      Are these beers commercially available there ?

    2. Hi Sapan,

      Yes, the local population here in South Africa use to drink sorghum beer for years and in the rural areas they still do. I will see if I can get some real traditional recipies and I will pass it on to you. I know that many years ago sorghum beer was commercially available and very cheap, next time I walk into a liquer store I will check it out and see if it's still available.

    3. It will be great to re-create some of the traditional recipes.
      Question - Did you use malted Sorghum or unmlated sorghum ? Malted sorghum is impossible to get commercially in India.
      And malting at home is honestly a PITA.


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