In 2011 Anton Viljoen bought a property in Maasdorp Street in East End, Bloemfontein and towards the end of 2011, after working as a Financial Manager for major groups in the South African hospitality industry, Anton left his position as Area Financial Manager at a hotel and casino group in Bloemfontein to enter the local business world. During 2013 Anton started with the lengthy process to obtain the necessary licensing to brew and ferment beer and at the beginning of 2016 everything was ready for East End Beverage Co, then trading as Stellar Brewery, to produce its first beer which happened in July of that year.
During 2016 Jan Lewtak, an engineer with a doctorate in chemistry brought his scientific knowledge and experience in beer brewing to the table and SP de Waal, a qualified land surveyor who is an expert in distillation, also joined the team. Each member of this team brought their respective expertise and passion to this vibrant, young company, which was now set to reach for the stars . . .
Between them, they have over the years received quite a number of medals at the National Home Brewers Competition as well as International Wine and Spirits Awards, reflecting the quality of the beer and gin produced at East-End Beverage Co in Bloemfontein.
Geared for the future
East End Beverage Co is now geared for expansion. At the complex, plans are underway to transform a part of the existing cellar area into a VIP area, including a cool room, for exclusive clients.
Another plan is to promote the premises as a venue for young and upcoming local music artists to perform. Two stages have already been built.
The Ice Room coincidentally derived its name from an event held here in May 2017. The Fermenters Club of Bloemfontein presented the Industrial Craft Experience (ICE) at the brewery, attended by 200 people. The event, held in late autumn with konkas of fire and hew bales as seating, was a huge success. Three bands performed and all the tickets were sold out. The plan is to organise events like these more regularly.
East End Beverage Co is also ready to enter new markets, in the bigger centres in the country as well as overseas.
A bigger focus on boutique, specialist beers is on the table. Jan Lewtak has already brewed an exceptional example, a Russian Imperial Stout with a 10,6% alcohol content, which was aged over four years in a wooden vat. The plan is furthermore to concentrate more on Belgian beers, and on smaller batches.
Meanwhile, the main motivation is still the satisfaction derived from producing premium products, and receiving great feedback from clients, for whom new worlds have opened after tasting this fine craft beer and gin.