The novel coronavirus pandemic has created job insecurity in the brewing industry which will hit micro brewers especially hard, said Tsitsikamma Micro Brewery brew master Chris Sykes.
Sykes said that the smaller the brewery, the more labour-intensive the beer brewing process was, further increasing uncertainty and the chance of job losses.
This was echoed by Brewhogs owner and director Mike Martin, who said that with Unemployment Insurance Fund complications, “the inevitable is looming…”
“Not only can we not brew, our entire stock on hand will have to be dumped when we open again. Also, our outlets are closed. So, even if we are allowed to brew again in the near future, there would be nowhere to sell the product – so [there’s] no point in brewing,” Martin explained.
Craft beers have an average shelf life of three to four months, which means stock that falls outside its expiration date will have to be destroyed.
Luckily, it would not take too long for the Tsitsikamma Micro Brewery to get back on its feet, Sykes said. At most, it would take the team a month to brew and deliver their first post-lockdown beer batch.
Brewhogs, linked to Hogshead Restaurants, would take about three weeks to deliver stock again – when public eateries are allowed to once again resume business.
South Africa is one of the few countries to adopt a zero-tolerance stance to alcohol sales in a bid to flatten the Covid-19 curve. Other countries include Greenland’s capital city, Nuuk, and surrounding areas, Botswana and Lesotho.
The United Kingdom received fake news that there would be an alcohol ban, but this was quickly denied.
The ban in South Africa understandably does not sit well with brewers, with SAB’s director of regulatory and public politics Hellen Ndlovu criticising the ban as a way to fuel illicit alcohol sales, criminal syndicates, and increase health risks.
Ndlovu compared the current ban to the US alcohol prohibition, from 1919 and 1933, which created a bootlegging industry and crime syndicates.
In short, Ndlovu suggested that nothing good could come of the ban, especially if SA does not at least learn lessons from the US’ 1919 decision.
“A measured and considered approach around alcohol during Covid-19 is both possible and viable in South Africa,” she said.
She made four key points: “Prohibition puts markets into the hands of criminals; prohibition changes people’s behaviours; prohibition diverts law enforcement resources; and prohibition almost never works.”