Thursday, 10 December 2015

And the end of 2015 takes a nosedive...

Just as we thought the year was winding down rather gracefully and without too much crisis management old JZ drops the bomb. Now the whole country is bending forward, grabbing their ankles and we just have to take it from behind.

The past 24 hours can simply be classified as a tumultuous day. From our fairly competent Minister of Finance getting fired to having to deal with unreasonable & overreacting people at work it was a pretty crap day.

Today did not start well. As always I checked all my social networks this morning... Guess what... The Thief in Charge calling himself the President of South Africa decided to sack the Minister of Finance for no proper reason. I must confess... When Mr Nene was appointed as Finance Minister I was quite skeptical. His falling off a chair incident a couple of years back did an injustice to his competence. The poor guy actually did a stellar job in the horrible conditions he inherited. The poisoned chalice he received was filled with wanton looting and corruption to please JZ and retain loyalty + votes.
Thanks to this our currency tanked and I am pretty sure numerous South Africans and companies are making plans and organizing to get as much money out of SA as quickly as possible.

The deteriorating exchange rate is not the kind of development you want when working in the construction industry and when you are expanding a small sideline business that relies on numerous imported items... Stainless steel components, speciality malts, yeast, hops, etc.

Even though this is a scary situation and will surely result in numerous sleepless nights and worrying, it is quite exciting to try and make things work when the deck is stacked against you.

Packing out large stainless tanks, arranging them in line, sorting out tri-clamps, valves & thermometers and planning the interesting year ahead is weirdly exciting and interesting. It is at that point when you realize that running the sideline we have is one of those things that keeps us sane... That one thing that makes you say: "Fuck this shit... We'll do it our way... The way we want to do it... And we are going to give it our best."

In order to avoid listening to the news while driving today, I opted for a podcast... Thanks to The Brewing Network (Justin Crossley you are a legend) and the guys from Scratch Town Brewing Co, the following got stuck in my mind: We area still young. We are in our mid thirties. Even if we do stuff up, there is enough life left to recover. Real life is about the little things we enjoy. At this moment that enjoyment is making beer. The best thing about beer is the way it makes people feel and act. Beer makes people happy. One of the best things about being in the beer industry is that fuzzy feeling you get when someone tastes the product you give them and their eyes glaze over with pleasure. 

At this point I can honestly say... I get more joy and appreciation out of someone enjoying a simple glass of beer than successfully delivering a complex building to an ungrateful client...

Since this is supposed to be a blog more related to brewing and not an outlet to bitch about real life, corporate bullshit and the general hassles of growing up I have to get back to beer, brewing and stainless steel.

To say the least 2016 is going to be an interesting year...
We have to master our new brewing system and try to stay on top of managing the cost increases of imported ingredients & products we use.
We have to strike some kind of balance between family lives, day jobs and our sideline business.
We have to differentiate our products in a market that is blindly going down the wrong road... Chasing high volumes and maximized margins akin to the modus operandi of the mega-brewers.
We have to drive the quality of small scale beers to a new level.
And we will have to deal with not always having enough beer...

2016 will most probably also be quite insightful in terms of the direction beer is heading in South Africa. Will it be more Session oriented, more Belgian, more hoppy or more bland + dumbed down yellow lagers...? Who knows!

Given the economic difficulties we face... Thanks to bright-spark JZ... Some breweries will be facing financially challenging times. The questions are: Who will fail and how will the remainder manage to weather the storm?