Heineken has made its third inroad into the South African craft beer market by acquiring a minority stake in 10 year old craft brewer Jack Black’s Brewing Co. from Diep River, a suburb in Cape Town, South Africa. After buying Stellenbrau located in Stellenbosch, 50km east of Cape Town, in April 2017 (inside.beer, 10.4.2017) and Soweto Brewing Company from the namesake city southwest of the country’s largest city Johannesburg in October 2017, this marks the third advance into the growing craft beer market on the southernmost tip of the African continent. In the last five years the number of craft breweries in South African has increased sevenfold to more than 205.
The most recent transaction, however, is different from the two before because Heineken does not buy the whole company but only enters into a partnership with a minority share.
Jack Black co-founder Ross McCulloch calls it a ‘distribution partnership’. He says on the Jack Black blog that “Heineken will acquire a minority share, so myself and my team (who are not going anywhere) will retain control over our heritage, our recipes, our day-to-day operations, and our company’s future direction.”
And he goes on saying that “essentially, we’ll have a partner that will help us expand our network and get our beer to all parts of the country, and possibly beyond. This means you’ll have better access to our beers, which at this point is something we’ve only dreamt about.”
Co-owner Meghan McCulloch confirms the value of the new partnership: “Instead of focusing on how to get the beer to market, we can now focus entirely on the beer itself,” she was quoted as saying on brewmistress.com.za.