I am not really a big beer drinker, but I love local businesses that are making a difference or trying to change the world. Big up to Eben Uys and his awrd winning team from Mad Giant, a local brewery, that are fighting the battle on one of our planet’s biggest issues currently – single-use plastics and our clogged up eco-systems.
It’s a battle of epic proportions, but then again that’s what Mad Giant walks, talks and breathes. “Mad Giant is about the ordinary person that’s crazy enough to pursue a massive dream,” says brewmaster and founder Eben Uys.
The brewery was fired up just three years ago with a simple aim: to brew beer for happiness. They soon realised the only way to smack a smile on, as Mad Giant’s tagline howls, is when you know your impact on the planet and people. “Plastic has become a massive pollutant of our rivers and seas,” says Eben, husband and father who has a doctorate in Chemical Engineering. “We don’t have an option but to start a journey of eradicating plastic.
“It’s our responsibility to be friendly to the environment; I want to create a legacy worth something to the next generations.”
In changing over to cardboard packaging, Mad Giant faced some serious challenges. Moving from shrink wrap to cardboard increased costs ten-fold. “Paper labels are almost double the cost and they don’t last as well in an ice bucket. But we cannot imagine the future cost of trying to clean the ocean and breeding sea life from scratch.”
To some, it’s a bridge too far. Not to the Mad Giant, whose 1 Fox Street location is the very spot from which the City of Gold arose. In those days, the CBD district of Ferreirasdorp may have seemed an improbable birthplace of anything refined – grimy and overcrowded with dusty miners seeking their fortunes on the reef. Now, it’s the thundering heartbeat of an African powerhouse. The neighbourhood has been revitalised, with vibey nearby Newtown Precinct that’s home to the Market Theatre, Turbine Hall & Boiler House, Ginologist Distillery, Inner-City Rooftop farming projects, and the iconic Mandela Bridge.
In this maelstrom of cultures, Mad Giant set up shop – a serious and dedicated craft operation. The interior of its adjoining restaurant, Urbanologi, was undertaken by décor whizz Haldane Martin and clocked Best Restaurant Design in Africa and the Middle East at the 2017 London-based Restaurant and Bar Design Awards.
When it comes to brewing, 34-year-old Eben Uys is no slouch. It all started with his “DIY Jedi” father who inspired a love for high-level artisan engineering and the kick of seeing a project through from start to finish. A bursary put him on track in Chemical Engineering as “something difficult that would guarantee a good payday someday”. En route, beer crept into his heart. In 2008 while busy with his PhD at the University of Stellenbosch, his team entered the intervarsity brewing competition and won. “What had me most excited was the community and celebration-of-life moments beer creates. That really got to me,” he says.
Get your hands on some Mad Giant and see what all the fuss is about…