Ukhamba Beerworx announced today that as of Sunday they will no longer be brewing or serving beer from their current home in Woodstock. Ukhamba has become the latest craft brewery to partner up with Devils Peak following similar moves by Mitchells, St Francis and Little Wolf.
Ukhamba are known for making some awesome beers, one of my favourites being their Sorghum Saison. Their IPA is named State Capture and anyone who has had the privileged of listening to Lethu’s (Ukhamba’s owner and brewer) story behind this name will appreciate what character he brings to the brand. Devils Peak are getting more than a couple of great beers out of this move, for me Ukhamba’s biggest asset is Lethu himself.
This move will certainly offer Ukhamba an opportunity to get their beer to more destinations, at a better price for the consumer and of a more consistent quality. However questions will surely be asked about whether this trend of beers being owned or produced by the bigger names is good for the future of craft in South Africa.
Times are certainly tough out there for the smaller guys right now and Devils Peak, with their new brewery in Epping are able to offer a very affordable, quality product capable of competing on price with the likes of AB InBev and Heineken. Heineken themselves are making a stab into the craft beer market, investing in Soweto Gold, Stellenbrau and Jack Black and offering these beers to the market at very low prices.
So, how do the smaller guys compete? Well, I don’t think they should try, not on price anyway. The focus should be more on offering a unique and quality product to the market. After all, that’s why there’s been a rise in craft beer, because people got bored with the same offerings from SAB.
Official Quote from Devils Peak on the deal:
We are very excited to announce a long-term partnership with Lethu and Noluyanda from UkhambaBeerworx.
We have been big fans of what Ukhamba have been doing for a long time now. Three months ago, realising the like-minded positions of the Devil’s Peak and Ukhamba brands, we started collaborating in making beers together. Our shared belief on brewing was clear from the outset, but it was the sharing of stories about the various traditions and cultures of Southern Africa that really got us on the path of making our relationship permanent.
In this beautiful country of ours that is so diverse in culture, beer is often shared as a form of social glue, and by joining forces with Ukhamba, we are hoping to extend the social occasions in which we play a part.
We believe the only things holding Ukhamba back are brewing capacity, price positioning and, most importantly, access to the brand’s primary consumer market of Gauteng. This will now be fixed.
One promise we make to existing fans of Ukhamba is that we will in no way disturb the path that Lethu and Noluyanda have set this brand on. Ukhamba’s DNA is their own, and that will not change.
We did a very similar deal to this with Stefan from Little Wolf a year ago. The Little Wolf brand is thriving today, and Little Wolf is still as undeniably a part of Stefan’s DNA as it was back then.
Official Quote from Ukhamba Beerworx on the move:
We would like to formally announce that this sunday’s Block Party will serve as our last day of trading in our current home in Woodstock.
We are so grateful for the support our followers have shown us during the past 15 months. Opening and operating our own brewery for the first time was very challenging, but also very beautiful. We can only look back with pride in knowing that when things in the industry got tough we were still able to grow our following and make a name for ourselves. Thank you so much for helping us get the word out there about Ukhamba Beerworx.
With all that said, we are excited about our new partnership with Devil’s Peak Brewery. This partnership will see us making better quality beer in their sytem, high volumes and distributing that will see our brand reaching places like Gauteng, KZN , PE and even Limpopo.We will also be looking into opening a new home probably in Johannesburg or Durban ( suggestions welcome). Exciting times!!, Viva beer Comrades!! UTYWALA BETHU!!!!!!