Jack Black

The Story of Jack Black: From Humble Beginnings to SA’s Best-Loved Craft Beer

Back in 2007, long before “craft beer” became a local phenomenon, Ross and Meghan McCulloch took a giant leap of faith. The duo, who crossed paths in Vancouver while working in the wine industry, were captivated by Canada’s growing craft beer scene. Recognising a golden opportunity in Ross’s native South Africa, they packed up and relocated to Cape Town. Fuelled by sheer passion and a shoestring budget, they set about introducing South Africa to craft beer.

From a small stall at The Neighbourgoods Market in Woodstock, Ross and Meghan brought their brainchild, Jack Black’s Brewing Co., to the country. Operating on a tight budget, the duo did more than just sell bottles—they began laying the foundations of a community. They chatted, laughed, and educated curious folks about what makes craft beer so special. Now, 16 years later, that friendly neighbourhood vibe hasn’t changed a bit. At the heart of Jack Black is still a commitment to brewing great beer and celebrating the community that’s been cheering them on since day one.

Jack Black

The McCullochs’ relentless efforts soon saw Jack Black’s transition from bottled beers at farmers’ markets to being stocked on tap at restaurants and bars in 2009. This ingenious move placed Jack Black front and centre among South African beer giants and exposed their flagship pre-prohibition lager to a whole new crowd. Traders, with their keen sense of what South African beer drinkers wanted, couldn’t get enough. This was when Meghan and Ross realised they were onto something special. By 2011, Jack Black had taken the lead in the craft beer revolution. Not only were they producing some of the first craft beer in the country, but they were also turning a nation of South Africans into genuine craft beer enthusiasts.

Jack Black

As the movement gained steam, instead of becoming competitive with other craft beer brewers, they welcomed them with open arms. For Meghan and Ross, it was less about competition and more about camaraderie. They believed in building relationships, collaborating with competitors, and fostering an environment where everyone could thrive—an approach that continues to define how they operate to this day.

In 2015, one of their biggest dreams turned into reality with the construction of their very own brewery. The following year, in 2016, their success continued and was marked by the opening of Jack Black’s Taproom in Diep River, Cape Town. However, 2020 threw a curveball no one saw coming. As the pandemic swept the globe, a full prohibition. This hard stance dealt a heavy blow to the craft beer industry. Many local players, who had been the heart and soul of the growing community, found themselves wiped out. Yet, Jack Black was able to navigate these turbulent waters and, by 2023, the craft beer industry was once again flourishing.

Since day one, innovation has been central to Jack Black’s ethos. They’ve always believed in offering a range of beers for diverse occasions and palates—even welcoming those who aren’t traditional beer drinkers. Over the years, they’ve crafted a wide spectrum of beers, punctuated by limited releases that celebrate community, seasonality, and unique ingredients. Their first flagship brew, the pre-prohibition lager, was an instant hit and offered South Africans a taste that felt familiar yet distinctively special. Then came the game-changing CPA (Cape Pale Ale), a brew tailored to meet the demand for a drink that combined lager-like sessionability with the distinct hop character of an ale.

Jack Black

Their adventurous spirit continues with the Super Crush range, encompassing both a Radler and an Ale. The spotlight now shines on their newest offering, the Super Crush Cherry Ale, set to hit South African shelves this December. Originally an exclusive on-tap offering at Jack Black’s Taproom, its overwhelming popularity inspired them to bottle it for a select range of stockists.

From the beginning, Jack Black was more than just about beer; it was about bringing people together. As Meghan and Ross have navigated the highs and lows of the craft beer world, they’ve always returned to this core principle. And as Jack Black continues to evolve, grow, and innovate, their dedication to community continues to guide them.

Cheers to the journey ahead, and the many more moments of connection Jack Black will inspire. To learn more about Jack Black, visit their website and become part of their growing community by following them on Instagram.