Craft beer

Microbreweries flourishing in South Africa

Craft beer is growing in townships.

Donald Makhafola caught up with Kevin Wood, the owner of Darling Brewery, to talk about the challenges and future of microbreweries in South Africa.

“There is no premium beer in South Africa, and it is just a marketing ploy used by the big guys. Consumers are tired of their great packaging and average products and those are the people drinking craft beers.”

 How do you define a craft beer and how special is it?

Donald Makhafola caught up with Kevin Wood, the owner of Darling Brewery, to talk about the challenges and future of microbreweries in South Africa.

Craft is about innovation and passion, not about beer in a bottle. It is the wine of beers.

How competitive is the beer market in the country?

It is the start of a sustainable category in South Africa. Currently there are a few players and the industry is not really competitive.

How do you sustain your business and make sure the end product is the best in the market?

By personally getting involved in the entire process of the business.

How profitable is your business as a microbrewery in South African market that is dominated by a monopoly?

A microbrewery is a profitable business.

There are many mainstream beers in the market produced by giant international breweries. How do you compete with these products?

We don’t and cannot and have no intention to. We target a completely different consumer, who consumes craft beer.

How do convince consumers to move away from drinking popular premium and lager to drink ale or craft beer?

That is easy. There is no premium beer in South Africa, and it is just a marketing ploy used by the big guys. Consumers are tired of their great packaging and average products and those are the people drinking craft beers.

How is craft beer different to mainstream beer?

Mainstream anything is average at best. As Jack Nicolson said ”You can’t handle the truth.” The consumer is driving the craft sector; we are just giving them what they want. The actual truth is that many people who are drinking crafts topped drinking mainstream beer a long time ago.

What challenges are you faced with as a microbrewery in South Africa?

The monopolies within the industry, whether bottling, ingredients, equipments, packaging, distribution...

What is the market share of craft beer in the country?

Less than 0.5% 

How many microbreweries do we have in South Africa?

The last time I counted there were 56 microbreweries across the country.

How do you foresee the future of microbreweries in SA?

This is only the start!

Why craft beer is only found in gastropubs and not in township taverns and shebeens?

 Pricing plays a major factor; you can by a 750ml Black Label for R13. That is not the pricing sector that we play in. There are establishments in townships where craft beer will do well and we will get there. It is just a matter of time.