×

We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Lockdown shutdown was a blessing in disguise for brewer

Tolokazi beer now brewed in Croatia, distributed in Europe

Yoliswa Sobuwa Journalist
Brewmaster Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, 35, who was born in Butterworth, is the first black woman in South Africa to establish a microbrewery.
Brewmaster Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, 35, who was born in Butterworth, is the first black woman in South Africa to establish a microbrewery.
Image: Werner Hills

After Apiwe Nxusana-Mawela was forced to close her brewery because of the lockdown, she poured her heart out on social media, which landed her a lucrative deal with a leading beer company in Europe.

Nxusana-Mawela's Tolokazi beer is now brewed in Croatia and distributed in Europe.

The first black woman to run a microbrewery, said she was excited about this milestone. Describing her turn of luck, the 37-year-old brewer noted that there was indeed a silver lining in every dark cloud.

“I am excited about this deal and hopefully it will bring more investors and open more doors for the brand. We closed down the brewery around June last year. I was sharing what I was going through on social media and on LinkedIn. Someone linked me to the founder of a beer club called Beer 52, which is  leading in Europe and based in London,” she said.

Nxusana-Mawela said the owner sent her a message saying he has been following her story and would like to help.

“I was sceptical at first and I spent some time doing a bit of research on who they are and what they do. He then proposed to put my beer on one of their mix cases.”  

She said they then had virtual meetings and realised it would be expensive to use a brewery in SA.

“We identified a brewery in Croatia and after signing some documents I shared my recipes and we found similar ingredients that side for my beer.”  

Nxusana-Mawela, a microbiologist, have been in the beer industry since 2008. She said even though her brewery closed, Tolokazi still had a strong presence in SA. 

“We are selling Tolokazi beer via my online store and we are working very hard to push it and the brand. I take losing the brewery as part of my journey and that has given me enough energy to move on to my next step.”

The Eastern Cape-born brewer is married to varsity sweetheart Rudzani Mawela with whom they have two children

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.