Although the 2020 alcohol ban wasn’t the ideal backdrop for launching a new beer, it did at least give Sibusiso Skosana chance to strategise and finalise the look of his new craft brand. Brewed under contract at Brewsters Craft in Johannesburg, 1632 Crafts currently features a pale lager and a cider in the portfolio.
Named for the postal code of Tembisa, east of Johannesburg, 1632 Crafts has a strong sense of place and a strong pride in that place. “We saw there was a need for tourism in Tembisa,” says Sibusiso, who grew up in the area. “We decided to start by building a brand of craft beer and cider so that when the tourists come, they can sip on a local product.”
Sibusiso had previously been working in IT but had long had a passion for entrepreneurship. In 2018 he met Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela of Brewsters Craft and Tolokazi Beer and the plan to launch a beer for Tembisa was put into place. The beer was unveiled after the first lockdown, with tastings in Mamelodi, Soweto, Atteridgeville, Benoni, Rustenburg and of course in Tembisa, where the official launch will take place early next year.
However, craft beer is just a small portion of Sibusiso’s vision. “The bigger picture is tourism,” he says. “We are opening a restaurant in Tembisa where the beer and cider will be available. We are also looking at building our own brewery in Tembisa within the next couple of years, where we can employ young people from the local area.”
The project is currently entirely self-funded by Sibusiso and his fellow director, Thabo Ndlovu, and the team is looking for outside investment. The beer and cider will be followed by a pre-mixed gin and tonic in 2021, with the range available at select liquor stores, restaurants and via the Thuma Mina app. Check out 1632 Crafts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
This article was first published in the Summer 2020 issue of On Tap Magazine. For more beer and drinks news and features, read the full issue here for free.