Several years ago while studying how to be a professional hunter and tour guide, Tshabangu worked at different bars around the country to support himself.
With the plan of becoming a knowledgeable salesperson, he began learning about different types of beer, as well as the history, ingredients and the science that goes into brewing.
In 2013, after spotting an opportunity in the production industry, he began brewing his own beer at home.
In 2017, he took the bold step of quitting his job to launch Woodstock-based brewery Ukhamba Beerworx with very little capital – and he hasn’t looked back.
“I started the business with my wife and we struggled a lot in the early days. We had to make due with one salary while taking care of a young baby and trying to establish a successful business,” he explains.
“We pushed the boundaries of flavour and disregarded the norms of brewing. We are driven by our love for the people and are dedicated to making beer that is steeped in African roots with local ingredients.”
Ukhamba Beerworx currently produces and distributes three beers:
- Utywala (Sorghum Saison) – a farmhouse ale with an African twist.
- State Capture – An easy-going India Pale Ale (IPA) with citrus flavours.
- Pursuit of Hoppiness – A subtle black IPA, which blends chocolate malt flavour and citrus flavours from Cascade hops.
The company has three brewing machines, one for 1 000 litres and two 500-litre machines. The temperature plays a key role in the brewing process, but on average, it takes 15 days to brew the beer, which is currently being sold to big clients such as the V&A Waterfront food market, Hudson Restaurant, Beerhouse and League of Beer, as well as stalls across Cape Town and Johannesburg.
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The beers are also sold at the Ukhamba Beerworx taproom in Woodstock, which Tshabangu has established as a space for young people to network and share their skills and talents.
“I want it to be more than a hangout spot, but a place where black entrepreneurs can collaborate and thrive. We have received the support of an amazing group of talented people and that encourages me to keep working towards my goal of conquering the beer world with quality and artful distribution,” he says.
To others looking to make it as entrepreneurs, Tshabangu advises focusing on the admin and financial side of the business. “Close your eyes and if you can visualise your dreams then you can do it. Don’t wait for a perfect time, start today!”