So, you’ve brewed an awesome beer and, in a haze of euphoria, imagine doing it for a living. The question arises, should I start a craft brewery in South Africa? You start looking for information…
Start a Craft Brewery in South Africa in 246 Easy Steps
At the original publishing date of this article (Jun 2016) there were over 8,259 liquor licenses, of which Micro Manufacture numbered 483, and that was just in the Western Cape.
The CraftBru list of South African craft producers keeps track of most of the craft brewers in South Africa, bar the few which have faded and others just started that we haven’t caught up with yet.
Be that as it may, for an overall picture of the market as at 28 February 2018, we have 214 brewers on the list. Of this number 169 are beer brewing facilities, 5 are cider houses, and the rest are brands brewed by one or more of the breweries.
The Western Cape has the highest number of breweries/cider houses (85), but also the highest number of brands (22), followed by Gauteng (28/9), KwaZulu-Natal (21/4), the Eastern Cape (15/3), and the rest with 8 or fewer.
A brief outline of the liquor licensing process, in the Western Cape at least, goes something like this:
- A Micro Manufacture On & Off license allows you to brew, and for your customers to drink on your premises or take it elsewhere;
- Applicant(s) must be over 18, not been in jail in the last 5 years, solvent and mentally sound (really, license requirements);
- Be resident in South Africa;
- Have a complete description, colour photos, floor & site plans of the premises;
- Written motivation for the liquor license application;
- Zoning cert from the respective municipality;
- Proof of payment of the application fees;
For information on how to get a license to start a craft brewery in South Africa, you can trawl through the official labyrinth that is government regulations, and puzzle it together yourself, or you could engage an expert, a list of which is just a quick google away. Time, after all, is money.
Stil keen? Bring it on!
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) National Liquor Authority FAQ is a good warm-up, to figure out what your brewery is, and where in the micro brewery-sphere you fit in.
There you learn about the National Liquor Authority, a regulatory body within the DTI that administers The National Liquor Act 2003 – the very laws within which you, potential licensed brewer, would have to operate. You’ll have to get acquainted with it at some point.
Next comes the fun part, and the reason why it’s difficult to write just one “how to set up a craft beer business” that applies to all of South Africa: each of our 9 provinces have their own Liquor Regulatory Authorities (LRA).
South African Liquor Regulatory Authorities
Different LRAs offer information in their own formats and to varying degrees of clarity. You’ll quickly get an idea of why the Western Cape has more breweries than any other province…
See the DTI’s list of LRAs for postal addresses and phone numbers, or follow the links below to the respective websites. I haven’t been able to find official LRA pages for the bottom provinces, which happens to be the provinces with the fewest breweries. Coincidence?
These are links to the respective government web sites, for your research pleasure. They do tend to change without being redirected. Links work as of Sep 2020: