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The brewing of dolo in Ségou (Mali) by the dolotières (female brewers).
The first phase of their work is to prepare the malt. To do this, the sorghum seeds are germinated for three to five days with a little water at the bottom of a pierced canary (a name for any kind of terracotta). As the seeds germinate, they begin to produce the enzymes needed to convert starch (their reserve form of sugar) into simple sugars, which are the only ones that can later trigger alcoholic fermentation reactions.
These seeds are then dried under the sun for two days and coarsely crushed to produce a flour: the malt.
|Germination of moistened sorghum grains in pierced pots (Photo Alexandre Magot)
|Sprouted sorghum seeds ( Photo Alexandre Magot)
|Drying of germinated sorghum under the sun (Cl. Alexandre Magot)
The brewing proper of the dolo then begins.
The malt is poured into a large canary of water to which an okra-based preparation is added that will carry the starch granules to the bottom. The supernatant contains the enzymes. It is set aside. The bottom of the canary is boiled so that the long starch chains unfold, then the supernatant is added: at 60-70 °C, the enzymes are at their most active and cut the long sugar chains into smaller elements.
After decanting, the operation is repeated: all the starch will thus be "hydrolysed" into a sugar solution ready for fermentation.
The mash in the canary is then filtered through a woven straw sieve which separates the used grains (dregs) from the sweetened solution (the wort).
It is brought to the boil one last time, which ensures, among other things, the sterility of the preparation. This liquid, once cooled, constitutes the "sweet dolo" that you can ask to taste. It is not yet alcoholic.
|Heating the water + crushed malt mixture (Photo Alexandre Magot)
|Fire and firewood for boiling the wort (Photo Alexandre Magot)
|Filtration of the wort and removal of the spent grain (Photo Alexandre Magot)
Then comes the final stage. The "sweet dolo" is cooled overnight and inoculated with yeasts that will ensure alcoholic fermentation: from the oxygen and sugar resulting from the transformation of the starch, they produce ethanol and carbon dioxide. The result is the " strong dolo ", a relative term since the beverage will hardly exceed 2 or 3 degrees.
|Clarifying the mash with okra (photo Alexandre Magot)
|Cooling the wort, Burkina Faso (Serge Chauve, 1987)
|Fermented dolo (photo Alexandre Magot)
The dolo is ready to be consumed. It is drunk in calabashes at 250 CFA francs per litre, or stored temporarily in all sorts of containers, from bottles of water... to cans of used oil!
It still contains active ferments, so it should be consumed the same day. It is a pleasant beverage (although often served warm) with a taste somewhat reminiscent of cider. An important detail is that its acidic pH (less than 4.5) ensures the absence of bacteria, and therefore of risk for the consumer.
Every cabaret has its share of customers who are used to the recipe of their dolotière.
Each one has its secrets, enriching the preparation with sugar or honey ...
If you are amazed by the liveliness that can reign in dolo cabarets at night, and if you are surprised by the effects on some people of a dolo that is not very alcoholic, take a close look: some people add their personal touch to the recipe ...
|Serving a calabash of dolo near Ougadougou (Burkina)
|A dolo cabaret near Ougadougou (Burkina)
|A dolo cabaret on market day in Motgedo, near Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (Serge Chauve, 1987)