He might have been the only male contestant vying for the crown, but in the end the judges were unanimous in selecting Sibusiso Skhosana from Thembisa as the country’s best umqombothi brewer.
Skosana, who lives on the East Rand of Gauteng, now holds the official title of “2021 Shebeen King”. After his crowning he also walked away with R5 000 in cash, gift vouchers from African Brew and Tolokazi Beer, plus goodies from local brands Zyle Clothing and Nubian Beau.
Umqombothi, a traditional beer made from maize, maize malt, sorghum malt and water, has long been a Mzansi favourite. The crème de la crème of traditional homebrewers came together on Sunday, 23 May in celebration of Africa Month.
‘Umqombothi reminds us of who we are’
Accepting his title, Skhosana said, “I decided to take my brewing seriously and learned the basic African way of brewing umqombothi.”
He used the many lessons learnt over a lifetime of home brewing to compete against the other finalists. “All my hard work paid off as I was crowned the 2021 Shebeen King against nine strong women. I would like to thank the sponsors for all the gifts and prizes that I’ve received.”
The 2021 Umqombothi Brew Contest, hosted annually by black female-owned brewer Brewsters Craft, aims to celebrate and educate people about beer brewing in Africa while preserving African culture and heritage.
This year’s contestants roughed it in front of a panel experienced brew master judges, showcasing their traditional beer brewing skills using Chibuku ingredients.
Umqombothi tasting stations were also decorated accordingly with the African theme, which also translated to the menu on the day.
“It’s something new and it reminds us of who we are,” remarked Thembi Ndlovu from Soweto who was the third runner-up.
“Being part of the top three meant a lot to me because when I entered the competition, I didn’t even know what the winning prize was. The focus was not the winning prize, it was more about celebrating our culture.”
The event is supported by the Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) in partnership with The Box Shop Lifestyle.
Preserving African culture and heritage
Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela founder of Brewsters Craft, said her aim was to celebrate and educate people about beer brewing in Africa.
“The idea to start this event came to me in 2017 after reading an article in which umqombothi was part of a list of soon to be extinct food products.”
According to Nxusani-Mawela, the article noted that young people were spending all their time in urban areas, while elders in the villages did not have anyone to pass the tradition on to.
Patricia Pillay, chief executive of Basa, said their association was proud to work with Nxusani-Mawela’s beer event.
“As we celebrate the beautiful taste of umqombothi, with different flavours, fragrances, and styles coming through, it reminds me of our beautiful country and continent. Rich with heritage!”