For most African people, growing up seeing women brew beer is normal. Seeing them as brewmasters in a commercial space is something fairly new however. So, 35-year-old Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, SA's first black female brewmaster, is a sight that needs to be celebrated.
Nxusani-Mawela owns Brewsters Craft, a craft brewery which she started in 2015.
“Apart from funding and putting the entire thing together, that was probably one of the biggest challenges," she says. "Now that we’re operational, it’s obviously maintaining and growing the business.”
She got funding for her business from the IDC.
Nxusani-Mawela says that she received respect from industry insiders as they knew her credentials, however public sentiment was slightly different.
“In terms of women in beer you do get that pushback quite often and not just as a consumer but also as a manufacturer because it’s unheard of, something that people are not familiar with, so you do get those negative feedbacks.”
The industry heavyweight goes on to emphasise that being a woman in the industry, although they’re a minority, doesn’t mean that she should be treated in a special way.
“I’m still a brewer, I just happen to be female, but I’m still a brewer.”
Nxusani-Mawela, a former SAB employee, was approached by the company to make a beer in honour of Women’s Month.
“One of the key things for me was that I didn’t want to make something that is typical of what 'a woman should drink’. I wanted to make it as beer, as beer could be.”
The beer called Bold Brew was brewed by an only-women team, and the beer’s ingredients were selected by women members of the public via a poll run on SAB’s social media pages.
The rest of the team consisted of Sonia Dearling – the artist who designed the packaging label, Hallie Haller was the content producer who documented the brewing process and the project overall. Elbie Louw an IT professional and home brewer, Elbie is also a beer judge and is in the process of opening her own small brewery. And Lynn Wicomb-Leibrandt the External Quality Manager, SAB and AB InBev Africa, she ensured the quality aspects of the brew.
Having tried some beer in my lifetime, I quizzed the master, who prefers being called a beer appreciator, on what flavours one can pick up from beer.
“For example, the Bold lager that we brewed, we used a hop called southern passion, which is a passion fruit, granadilla, which is not like a fruit juice kind of fruitiness. They get that as a hint which blends with the beer.
"We use malts called amber malt, which gives you a toffee, caramel taste. It doesn’t taste sweet and caramel but the combination of those different flavours come together in the beer and gives a distinct character without it being too sweet or fruity.”
The beer will be available to the public from Tuesday August 13 at the SAB World of Beer in Newtown, Johannesburg.