Heineken partners to produce first Soweto Lager

Master brewers. At the top Doc “16” Khumalo, DJ Ganyani, Ndumiso Madlala (black jacket) Josef Schmid (black cap) and Dingaan “Rose of Soweto” Thobela, toasting at the launch of first Soweto Brewing Company held at Ubuntu Kraal, Mofolo in Soweto. Image JACOB MAWELA.

IF THE SCENES which played out at the Soweto Brewing Company’s premises at Ubuntu Kraal where a lengthy line of refrigerators were rapidly being relieved of half liter cans of a new brand of beer, by the hundreds and immediately being peddled away in the direction of numerous tables occupied by evidently thirsty guests, in ice cube-filled wheelbarrows, is anything to go by – then co-founders, Ndumiso Madlala and Josef Schmid have unequivocally struck gold!

The usage of the word gold at the end of the opening stanza is more than mere coincidence, as it turns out, scenes in question were part of the grand launch of a debutante product on the market billed as Soweto’s new icon – a beer named, Soweto Gold – Superior Golden Lager.

Unusually launched in the afternoon time frame when most working folk are leaving their offices and factories to negotiate Joburg’s hair-pulling rush hour trek home – invited guests turned up in their hundreds in jalopies reflecting their societal standing, and included popular luminaries such as a boxer once nicknamed after the township; a former soccer star once adjudged to be the most popular sportsman in the Republic and a magician hitmaker on the sound decks.

Dingaan Thobela, Doctor Khumalo and DJ Ganyani were brought out by the event’s organizers to witness the collaboration of a small Kasi-born brewery located just a stone’s throw from Vilakazi Street, and big-hitting, second largest brewer in the world (Holland brand Heineken) – who had acquired the former to join its portfolio of brands.

Through Soweto Brewing Co.’s uniquely powerful story and exceptional recipes, rich in quality and culture, the globally renowned brewer will be enabling the specialty township brewer to take its brands to a wider audience of beer drinkers across South Africa.

Ruud van den Eijnden, Managing Director of Heineken SA says, “In many ways, we view this as a true partnership with our role being to support and amplify the great platform that the founders have already built.”

Rural KwaZulu-Natal native, Madlala [who quipped to the media that curious strangers astounded by his entrepreneurial success kept on asking him whether he was from Soweto] and Schmid, will, in the arrangement, remain involved from a brewing and brand custodianship perspective – thus enabling them to continue on the path of their successful venture, albeit under the ownership of Heineken.

Punted as the Amsterdam-Soweto collaboration of brew masters, together, they have launched anew beer and icon of Soweto, Soweto Gold – Superior Golden Lager, an expertly brewed, pure golden lager with a smooth and rich taste and an ABV of 5%.

“We’ve always said that Soweto represents the best of South Africa, and of South Africans”, said Madlala. “To us, it’s not just a place, but an idea of things born of the Kasi.

Together with our great team, we’ve built a brand that we and the people of Soweto are incredibly proud of, and the team at Heineken have gone out of their way to demonstrate that they understand and respect this, they’ve given us amazing scope to continue to build this powerful story.”

But the new tipple doesn’t mean reduction to second fiddle of an entity with a commendable resume whose other product and personnel had respectively garnered accolades such as, Best Craft Beer [2014] and Best Entrepreneur [2016].

The Soweto Brewing Co.’s specialty range will continue to be available on tap, which includes the Original Lager, Apple Ale, Cherry Ale and GoGo’s Ginger by Soweto Brewing Co.

The all-new Soweto Gold – Superior Golden Lager celebrates and brings together true brothers with the Kasi spirit, celebrating deep friendships born from a lifetime of shared stories and experiences. As an icon of true brotherhood, the brand inspires and supports men as they make their way through life.

Chosen to make a toast and in effect endorsing the beer, “16” -as Khumalo is known to fans- was later asked by a scribe at a session with the media as to whether it implied that as a renown sporting icon, he identified with drinking – whereupon he deftly replied that although conscious of the results of imbibing, and being regarded as a role model to boot, his presence at the occasion in no way encouraged kids in that direction.

In between the invitees emptying the new content whilst making tableside conversations, old-school types took the opportunity of having the celebrities in their midst, by taking phone snaps with them.

The enthusiastic drinking was balanced with a buffet offering topped by a spit roast of lamb as DJ Ganyani took to the decks well into late evening.

Although this beer is born in Soweto, the founders truly believe that this is a beer brewed for all.

The duo’s has been a rapid rise, and now with the development with the Dutch behemoth – Madlala spelt it out for all to hear that the brewery’s ambition is to go global!



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