Beer in South Africa
Beer in South Africa has a long history, with a corporate history dating back to the early 20th century.
South African beer has had two main influences on its development. Firstly, European settlers who colonised the country brought expertise and know-how as the country was populated. Dutch immigrants from the 1650s onwards, and British, immigrants during the 19th and 20th centuries both contributed in different ways to the knowledge of alcohol production.
South African Western Beer (Additional information) Beer reached South Africa with its first white settlers and it has been brewed here for over 300 years. On October 4, 1658, Jan van Riebeeck recorded in his diary that on this day the first beer was brewed at the Cape. High priority was given to the production of beer because it was an essential beverage for combating the dreaded scurvy so prevalent on ships engaged in the trade between the Netherlands and the East Indies. Beer is today still held in high regard as a wholesome natural beverage. In i960 the Malan Liquor Commission completed its intensive investigations into the distribution of intoxicating liquor in South Africa and reported as follows: “The thought of the Commission underlying this report is that conditions should be created which would encourage the consumption of natural alcoholic beverages, preferably in conjunction with food, at the expense of stronger liquor or spirits. Greater differences in price between natural beverages and spirits and the easy availability of the former are recommended as part of the scheme aimed at diverting the drinking habits of the people in this direction." Dr. E. M. Jellinck, who was regarded as the world’s leading research scientist in the field of alcohol studies, came to the following conclusion: “The type of beverage used is always revealing of drinking habits. Beer is a beverage selected, not by inebriates, but mainly by moderate users of alcohol.”
Another important but often overlooked influence has been indigenous knowledge. Local breweries, operated by the black population, especially groups such as the Sotho, Zulu and Xhosa, have been brewing forms of sorghum beers long before any Europeans arrived.
Let us look at Bantu beer (Additional information) The brewing and consumption of Bantu beer played an important role in Bantu tribal life in Southern Africa. It is traditionally brewed by allowing a mixture of water and malted kaffircorn to ferment. The fermented product is only partially strained and thus retains a considerable percentage of solid matter. It is looked upon as both a food and a drink. In recent years commercially produced Bantu beer powders have been replacing kaffircorn malt in home brewing and at smaller industrial breweries. Most municipalities enjoyed a monopoly for the production of Bantu beer in their areas and the larger ones operated modern industrial plants for this purpose. In the industrial production of Bantu beer, maize grits became the major basic ingredient and were mixed with kaffircorn malt in a ratio of two to three parts of maize to one part of malt. Although most of the industrially produced Bantu beer is still sold from bulk, modern packaging in plastic and other types of containers was rapidly being introduced at most municipal breweries. Since the supply of European liquor to the Bantu was legalized in 1962, the sale of Bantu beer by municipalities started to increase at a faster rate than before.
European and Bantu beer have much in common. The latter is in fact virtually the primitive forerunner of the former. In Leipzig, in Germany, a centuries-old brewery is preserved as a tourist attraction and its product is hard to distinguish from Bantu beer. It is not generally known that the nutritional value of European beer closely approximates that of Bantu beer. Both contain about the same percentage of alcohol but whereas fermentation is terminated in the case of European beer by pasteurization after bottling, it continues with Bantu beer until it turns ‘sour’. Resultantly the alcoholic content of Bantu beer increases after it leaves the brewery and it is not unusual to find that it contains more alcohol than that permitted by law, namely, 3% by weight or nearly 4% by volume. "Permitted by South African law of 1964 at that time!
Now, back in the 1960s, the South African Government decided to use the profits that accrue to municipalities from the production and sale of Bantu beer to plough back for the benefit of the Bantu communities in their respective areas, hends [sic?], why the Apartheid Government built schools, libraries, clinics, four-room houses for Natives of the land, and succeeded to remove all African communities from their Townhomes e.g. Old Alberton North (Emagogogweni area) to townships e.g Katlehong, Thokoza, and Vosloorus areas (Katorus), far away from the European communities. They built all that using the Bantu Beer profits.
Bantu beer was produced at a cost of approximately 8 to 10 cents per gallon and sold from bulk at about 20 cents leaving municipalities with a gross profit in the vicinity of 10 to 12 cents per gallon, of which 2 cents accrue to the Central Government as excise duty. When a gallon of European beer is sold through a municipal outlet for consumption on the premises the following amounts accrue to: (а) the State (as excise duty) - 80 cents; and (б) the Municipality (as a gross mark-up on sale) - 83 cents. Municipalities were required to pay 80% of their net profit on the sale of European liquor to the Department of Bantu Administration for use in the development of Bantu homelands. From the purely fiscal angle, there would appear to be a strong case for encouraging the Bantu to drink more European beer because in so doing larger amounts will become available for its own and the country’s general benefit.
The brewing industry (Shall be continued)
South Africa accounts for 34% of Africa's formal beer market and is expected to grow by 8–10% annually over the next five years. Beer consumption in the country was pegged at 60 litres per capita in 2012 which is greater than the 14.6-litre African average as well as the global average of 22 litres.
Today, South African Breweries (SAB) controls the vast majority of the South African beer market, and with the notable exception of imported brands such as Heineken, Guinness and others, SAB owns and produces all the major brands in the country, as well as owning Miller's Genuine Draft (American) and long list of others which makes it the world's second largest brewery. Their most popular and valuable brand is Carling Black Label, which is the most awarded beer in the country with 20 prestigious international beer awards to its name. They also produce Castle milk stout, Hansa Pilsner, Castle Lager and Castle Lite. Other commonly drunk beers in South Africa is Windhoek Lager, a beer from Namibia made according to the Reinheitsgebot, as well as Tafel Lager, another Namibian import.
Jo'burg beer, an independent business and low-priced beverage, is dominant among lower-income groups, and incorporates the tastes of traditional brewing.
A number of smaller microbreweries have sprung up in the past decades, and these tend to compete regionally. The country's first microbrewery was Mitchell's Brewery in Knysna;. Mitchell's is now produced as a contract brand with Devil's Peak Brewing Company. According to, there were 211 breweries and contract brands across the country in 2018. Other microbreweries in South Africa include:
Western and Eastern Cape
- Afro Caribbean Brewing Co
- Aegir Project Independent Brewery
- Birkenhead Brewery
- Boston Breweries
- Cape Brewing Company
- Darling Brew
- Devils Peak Brewing Company
- Drifter Brewing Co.
- Frasers Folly
- Hermanus Brewing Co
- Hey Joe Brewing Co
- Hopman Brewery
- Jack Black
- Long Beach Brewery
- Old Potter's Inn
- Red Sky Brew
- Saggy Stone Brewing Company
- Stellenbosch Brewing Company
- Triggerfish Brewing
- Richmond Hill Brewing Co
- Table 58 Brewing Co
- Emerald Vale Brewing Company, Chintsa, Eastern Cape
- Little Brewery in Port Alfred, Eastern Cape
- Bridge Street Brewery in Port Elizabeth Eastern Cape 
- Woodstock Brewery
- Clockwork Brewhouse
- East Coast Brewing Co.
- Happy Days Brewery
- Nottingham Rd Brewing Company
- Shongweni Brewery
- That Brewing Co
- 1000 Hills Brewing Co.
Gauteng and North West
- SMACK! Republic Brewing Co.
- Drayman's Brewery
- Gilroy’s Brewery
- De Garve Brewery
- Copperlake Breweries
- Black Horse Brewery
- The Cockpit Brewhouse
- Humanbrew (Loxton Lager)
- Leaky Tap Brewery
- The RedRock Brewing Company
- Legends Brewery
- Hazeldean Brewing Co
- Mad Giant
- Frontier Beer Co
- Agar's Brewery
- Brewhogs Microbrewery
- Irish Ale House
- Brauhaus Afrika, Rustenburg, North West Province
Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga
- Anvil Ale
- Clarens Brewery
- Dog and Fig Brewery
- Hops Hollow
- Stellar Brewery (Bloemfontein, Free State)
- Zwakala Brewery, Haenertsburg, Limpopo
There is a fairly large homebrewing community in the major metropolitan cities throughout the country. Homebrewers meet on a monthly basis in major cities including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Bloemfontein. The main clubs are the Wort Hogs, Southyeasters and Durban Homebrewers.
A national competition is held every year in November. There are a number of homebrewing festivals held throughout the year.
- "Popularity of microbreweries set to increase". Creamer Media's Engineering News. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
- "Statistics for the South Africa craft beer industry". The Brewmistress. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
- "Map of craft breweries in South Africa". The Brewmistress. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 October 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Origin Digital. "Bridge Street Brewery". Bridgestreet.co.za. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
- "Our Beers - Brauhaus am Damm". 19 October 2012. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
- "Zwakala Brewery". Zwakala Brewery. Archived from the original on 30 August 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
Publisher: Historical Papers Research Archive, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa Location: Johannesburg ©2016