The Devil’s Peak UK Launch

We have finally packaged our first two beers that are now ready for sale in the United Kingdom! This is just the beginning, and there are many more to come.

If we seem just a bit excited, it’s because this has been a 32-month journey. Over two and half years ago, we decided that the UK craft beer scene was one that we wanted to be a part of. And as we watch these beers spin off the production line, it’s a moment of both intense pride and excitement. Our journey into the UK is just starting, and it’s going to be an epic one!

Why did this take so damn long? 

Spin the clock back almost three years to our home in Cape Town, South Africa, and Devil’s Peak was entering the early stages of adolescence. A rollercoaster of unexplained emotions was our day to day, and through the teenage eyes of optimism and “why the hell not”, we saw no reason not to jump head first into the next big thing. After all, how hard could expanding into the UK market really be?

Well – as teenagers are also wont to do, we got a bit distracted. Fortunately for us, this allowed the first rays of wisdom to seep into our thought process. First, we needed to make sure that we brewed consistently amazing beers in South Africa – beers that spanned a wide range of styles. Second, we needed to continuously evolve the consumer’s views on what true beer is all about. We are confident in the fact that we have achieved our first goal. The second is an ongoing journey.

This span also allowed our Head Brewer JC and his council of beer making wizards the time needed to gain full confidence in the beers we were making. Continuously tinkering with new recipes and new influences become the norm – not the exception. 

From a UK perspective, we took this time to truly understand the ins and outs of the UK beer market and, most importantly, understand the UK craft beer consumer. This was absolutely critical.

Decisions, decisions 

There were a few to make in our move into the UK. Get any one of them wrong and our life could have become infinitely more difficult.

The first big decision – “Where are we going to brew?”

Well, we brew our own beer in South Africa – surely it makes the most sense to simply brew in our own brand new, state of the art facility and export to the UK. Right? It’s not that simple. 

What was most important to us was the freshness of the beer, being able to provide our beers at the right price point, and having access to local ingredients and ideas – all while being environmentally responsible. All of these elements would suffer if we had opted to brew in South Africa. We therefore unanimously decided that brewing in the UK was the only option.

The next step was to find a partner that shared our obsession with the intrinsics of beer – the ingredients used and the following of a beer making process. We had a few misses here, but finally landed on a partner in Fierce Beer. There was a courtship process in the form of a few collaboration beers followed shortly thereafter by an agreement to contract brew with them at their home in Aberdeen, Scotland.

At the same time, we were working through the critical decision of how to position Devil’s Peak in the UK. You might think – “Well just brew what’s doing well in South Africa.” Not quite that easy.

South Africa and the UK are obviously very different in their tastes.  Moreover, and most importantly, the two craft beer movements are at very different points in their journey.

To compound this, we are the new kids on an a very crowded block. If we want to get noticed, the best way is through launching with beers that resonate with the on-trend UK craft beer drinker. More of the same is not going to get us very far.

With all of this considered, we made the call to apply the same strategy in our UK launch as we did when launching Devil’s Peak in South Africa in 2011. We strongly believe that fortune favours the brave. We see our brand position in the UK as an evolution of what we started with the launch of our Explorer and Collaboration Series in South Africa.

For the UK market, we have updated our logo and packaging and are launching with beer styles that we are confident will find favour there. We’re starting with year-round sour pale ales and juicy IPAs, and there are lots of thought provoking beers to follow.

To our friends in South Africa, you will get to taste the beers that are being launched in the UK through our Explorer Series, and in time, our branding will also align.

We see our entry into the UK as a reincarnation of sorts – the same soul in a new body. So here we sit. Let the games begin!