Umqombothi: Africa’s Original Sorghum Beer

Our beer variety is something we are very proud of. We have the largest beer variety under one roof in Africa. We are always looking for ways of diversifying our variety to suit all tastes. The largest beer library in Africa would not be complete without the original beer of the continent. So Beerhouse will be introducing its first traditional Umqombothi beer Chibuku- Shake Shake to its library.

Umqombothi is a product steeped in history and cultures of the people of Africa. Beer made from sorghum and maize has been brewed for centuries, the traditional home-brewed Umqombothi forms an important part of the Xhosa culture. Traditional sorghum beers were brewed by the matriarchs of the extended families to celebrate the homecoming of young men after initiation. The beer is also seen to be important in facilitating contact with the amadlozi (Ancestors) and brewed for funerals, weddings and imbizos (Group Discussions).
Chibuku photo
Chibuku is the commercially produced version of the traditional Umqombothi. There is a variety of brands that are popular across Southern Africa. Low in alcohol, high in nutrients and cheaper than clear beer, its popularity cannot be denied.
Tasting Chibuku was a bit like when tasting your first really hoppy IPA – surprised and ambushed by the unknown. The first sip for a virgin to Chibuku without fail induced a face that is usually reserved for drinking harsh tequila. However it does grow on you. If you close your eyes it could be a malt based milkshake – not too dissimilar to Horlicks but with a tangy finish. The nose surprises with hints of Weiss-like character probably from the by-products of yeast known as esters which tend to give off fruity-like aromas. The nose is followed by powerful yeast flavour that can be gritty and grainy. The finish is sour and is typical of a beer fermented with wild yeast. Ironically sour beer is a growing trend in micro-brewing hot beds like the UK and States. Perhaps Chibuku was a bit before its time for western palates.

Colour varies depending if using mealie meal (white to off-white) or sorghum (off white to dark). It has a milky, frothy head for half a minute and then quickly dissipates as it’s low in carbonation and can’t support the original cappuccino-like head. The beer is not filtered hence it has quite a bit of sediment and is rich in Vitamin B so shaking before consumption is a must to get the most out of your beer. Shake- Shake, as it’s known, is packaged in cardboard cartons and is drunk straight from the 1 litre vessel. When the liquid has been consumed and you reach the bottom of the carton, standard practice is to slurp up the pile of sludge that remains.

Join us for a true taste of Africa under the great African sun this summer. Shake Shake –Woza Uzabona!

Stay Thirsty Stay Curious.

33 Comments On “Umqombothi: Africa’s Original Sorghum Beer”

  1. lebogang | On January 27, 2015

    Greetings… i would like to start a business and sell chibuku beer, how and where can i get the supply for the beer.. and do i need to get a licence for it ?

    • siyabulela madikane | On March 16, 2016

      Do i need a license to sell a chibuku sorghum beer ?

      • Randolf | On April 25, 2016

        In short: yes. Wherever an alcoholic beverage is being consumed you need an on-con or off-con liquor license.

      • mp | On December 1, 2017

        I m interested to cell chibuku as my stating small business how can i get it . Am i suppost to get licence first ornot

  2. P McKay | On January 7, 2016

    Hello there, can anyone please tell me where I can buy Chibuku Shake Shake Beer in the UK, am in Glasgow.

    Thank you for your time.

  3. JONAS | On August 19, 2016

    morning Randolf. i am residing in Mpumalanga and of interest i would like to join your team. i have tested and enjoyed the beer (sorghum) during the past month from a friend in Gauteng.
    I felt i have to show or help on promoting the product at my neighborhood. i would like to do “DISTRIBUTION”


  4. Bulelwa Mdoko | On September 7, 2016

    Dear Chibuku wholesallers

    i am the resident of Grahamstown also like to sell Chibuku as business venture for 2017 please contact me on 0725557089 or email

  5. Eugene links | On October 3, 2016

    Helo I want this beer to be deliver at my house I want to buy in bulk please

  6. Surprise | On November 24, 2016

    I need to start business for selling Chibuku shake shake at Thohoyandou,i also need the leicence were can i get i

  7. Tebogo Mothapo | On November 27, 2016

    requesting database registration information

  8. Johnson M Kelaotswe | On January 20, 2017

    I am running a Liquor Business, I want this beer to be delivered at Stand no 39758 Extension 18, 20 Michael Xolo Avenue, Mamelodi East

    My contact Johnson on 079 522 8697

  9. Samantha | On February 27, 2017

    Hello. I just moved to Bloemfontein. Where can I buy Chibuku?

  10. Hendrick | On August 5, 2017

    I want to sell shake shake,tlokwe how can i start and where can i get licence,

  11. Tina | On September 24, 2017

    Good Day Randolf i would like to start my own little business by making Chubuku and selling it Where can I appky for this so called on con or Off Con license Or can I buy this Chubuku Direct from you. Hope to here from you soon Regards Tina

    • joyce mfonde | On October 4, 2017

      good day, i am also interested in selling chubuku, but need to know if i must get licence or what is the procedure of getting one.

      hope to hear from you soon



  12. Hangwami | On October 21, 2017

    I don’t know where to get licence for selling chibuku

  13. martha | On November 23, 2017

    hi my name is martha am situated in Finetown south of johannesburg
    i would like to sell chibuku asap my contact details are 0736176767

  14. mike | On January 4, 2018

    i am making a traditional beer called umqombothi ,i need to commercialise it , do i need to be licenced.

  15. grace | On January 7, 2018

    Good day.I would like to start selling shibuku in tzaneen.where do I start and how do i get a licence.
    Thanx grace.

  16. 0765719485 | On February 1, 2018

    MY NAME IS PHUMZILE I STAY IN LEEUFONTEIN i am interested in selling chubuku, but need to know if i must get licence or what is the procedure of getting one.

    • Precious Katsande | On February 7, 2018

      We are unfortunately are unable to assist you with this matter as we a Gastropub.

  17. jeremia | On February 15, 2018

    Hi m jerry at mopyane i am interested in selling chibuku is there any distribution around rustenburg

  18. Zakaria Chense | On May 15, 2018

    Hi l looking market l have sorghum red and white if ur interest for raw material plse contact by email

  19. Bandile Nohayi | On June 24, 2018

    Hello Sir/Madam
    I would like to start a business selling Chibuku and i’m residing in the Northern Cape in a small town of Hanover on the N1. And I would like to know where can I apply for the license to sell it.

    • Murray Slater | On August 11, 2018

      You will have to speak with your local liquor authority. Always good to talk to liquor lawyers who can guide you through the process.

  20. peter pene | On January 16, 2019

    I am from plettenberg bay I like to sell sorghum beer pleas you nearrest branch pleas

    • admin | On January 18, 2019

      Hi Peter,
      Our closest branch would be BEERHOUSE on Long and soon to be BEERHOUSE Tygervalley. Please send a mail to our beer whisperer, for beer related inquiries.


  21. Chris Olivier | On May 31, 2019

    Good Day

    If you have questions wrt Sorghum and the selling there of, license ex, please mail me at oli4chris.100@gmail, maybe I can try to assist you. I am from Cape Town

    • admin | On June 10, 2019

      Hi Chris, we have a local supplier for Chibuku 🙂

  22. Khutedi granny mofomme | On June 28, 2019

    Hi my name is granny from cullinan I would like to sell sogurm beer and I don’t know where to start for license please help me with respect

    • admin | On July 1, 2019

      Hi Granny,
      We don’t know much about the license, we suggest chatting to a brewery to get advise.

  23. Gugulethu | On December 11, 2019

    Good Morning, I ma interested in selling Chibuku in Orange Farm, South Of Joburg. Please assist me with all the relevant information asap. My contacts 0799741469. Thank you in advance.

    • admin | On January 6, 2020


      We have a Chibuku suppler in Cape Town. Thanks.

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