By: The Witness

While making your own beer at home can be a fantastic idea, it can also be harmful if done incorrectly.

Just this week Northern Cape police said they suspect that two people may have died from drinking homemade beer. A 42-year-old woman was found dead and her 54-year-old partner was found very sick at their flat. The man later died in hospital.

Police said that two empty bottles of a homemade brew was found at the scene and seized for forensic tests.

Pietermaritzburg’s Megan Gemmell, head brewer at Clockwork Brewhouse, said a lot of people are now interested in home brewing.

“I am all for home brewing and recommend people chat to experienced brewers first. Facebook and Twitter are full of advice.”

She said that if people brewed correctly using fruit, yeast and ingredients that are ordinarily edible, and if clean water is used and everything sanitised, then there are very little risks, except maybe a bad hangover.

It becomes dangerous when other ingredients are put into it such as methylated spirit, hand sanitiser or acetone, which can be dangerous once consumed, she said.

Some people are fermenting fruit until it gets rotten. When consumed this can cause liver failure, said Dr Rashmee Bagirathi.

UKZN head of public health Saloshni Naidoo, confirmed that a homemade brew can be dangerous depending on the ingredients used and the concentrations used.

Naidoo said some metal pots may contain heavy metals. Long-term exposure to heavy metals can cause toxicity.