Meet Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela: Brewmaster & Tolokazi Beer Founder

Tolokazi Premium Beer & Cider

After asking the HEYBOO community who they would like to see interviewed next, one reader suggested a female beer brewer. Naturally, we had to find the best person to speak to about being a brewmaster; and found Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela; the first individual from South Africa to earn a National Diploma in clear fermented beverages, and the first black woman in South Africa to found a microbrewery.

Apiwe has several accomplishments under her belt, which we had to learn more about…

Who is Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela and what inspired you to become a brewmaster?

I am a passionate female brewer from South Africa. I developed an interest in beer making during high school and pursued a BSc degree in Microbiology & Biotechnology. I joined SABMiller in 2006, completing the Diploma in Brewing and working in various positions until 2015. I then became a Shareholder & Brewmaster at Brewhogs Microbrewery before founding Brewsters Craft, the first black female-owned brewing company in South Africa in 2015.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and alcohol bans, Brewsters Craft closed in June 2021. In 2020, I launched Tolokazi Beer, a brand honouring African female brewers and using indigenous African ingredients. Our Sorghum Pilsner and Mango Beer won medals at the 2021 African Beer Cup, while the TolokaziBeer design received recognition at the 2021 WineMag Label Design Awards and the 2022 International Craft Beer Marketing Awards. TolokaziBeer is available in South Africa and recently secured a distribution deal in the UK.

Speaking of Tolokazi Beer, as well as your company Brew4Change, can you tell us more about these ventures?

Tolokazi Beer is a company I started in 2020 when our brewery closed down due to the pandemic. Tolokazi is a range of premium award-winning beers and ciders. The brand pays homage to the female brewed of Africa, past, present and future. We celebrate Africa through Beer, taking pride in the use of indigenous African ingredients in our brews. 

Brew4Change is a non-profit company I started to celebrate diversity within the brewing industry and educate on issues of underage drinking. We currently hold various talks and workshops in Gauteng and Eastern Cape. 

Tolokazi Premium Beer & Cider

Why are women in brewing so important to you and how are you paving the way for future female brewmasters?

Throughout history, women have been brewing beers not only in Africa but across the world. To this day, traditional African Beer is brewed by women. As a modern-day BrewMaster, it’s important for me that we continue to celebrate women in brewing. I believe it is time that women took their rightful place in the brewing.

What is next for Apiwe?

At the moment I am focused on growing the Tolokazi brand not only in South Africa but also across the continent. I want the brand to be a beer of choice when celebrating Africa and all that it represents. 

I want to continue to be a thought leader in brewing in Africa. I plan to write a book that would serve as guidance to other aspiring beverage entrepreneurs in the continent as they start their journeys. 

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming brewmasters?

You must believe in yourself and never doubt your abilities. Remain focused and passionate about your dreams. Be so good, they can’t ignore you.

Getting to know Apiwe:

  • If I had to choose one person, alive or dead, as my inspiration, it would be… Steve Biko
  • My favourite hobby is (other than brewing)… Reading 
  • My favourite beer is… Saison-style beers in summer and stouts in winter 
  • My daily mantra is… Be so good, they can’t ignore you 

Thank you, Apiwe! Follow her journey on Instagram.

Tolokazi Premium Beer & Cider

For more inspiring interviews, read our blog.

HEYBOO, Hey Boo, HeyBoo, however you may write it yourself, is a blog centred around inspiring women, inspiring women. Our goal is to celebrate women in all walks of life and in any industry who are making noise and doing the most. Interviews with women about their experiences in business, or other sectors aim to inspire and educate our readers. Whether you want to learn more about how to break into an industry, or just get uplifted by some truly inspiring stories, we’ve got the read for you! While we are focused on spreading the news about awesome women, we branch into brand reviews, and other fun and interesting blog categories to feed your curious soul.