SMS answers from &Union

Pioneers of boutique eating experiences, Rui Esteves and Brad Armitage of &Union answer the SMS questions sent during Design Indaba.

How long did it take before your staff began to run Vida and you were able to let the business go on its own?

We try to empower our staff from day one. But that means loads of care, training and, of course, leadership. The business never went “on its own”.

Who did the Vida logo and design?

We have always handled our design internally, whether it was through Rui's skills with the mouse, or one of our team. We started with a strongly defined brief. If you know what you don't want, it helps.

What is your twitter name?


How much did you sell Vida Cafe for?

A bag of magic beans.

Are your beers locally produced and bottled?

No. We are however a proudly South African company. Our quest has always been to seek out artisanal producers that we are proud to associate with. For the Brewers & Union range where better to start our journey than the home of beer, Germany. Where will this journey end? Who knows?

Who designs the beer packaging?

We are proud to say that we do all our designs ourselves. We are fussy buggers and can't seem to retain service providers.

Please talk about the brewing process. What ingredients go into your beer, where do your brew masters come from etc?

Our beers are all naturally produced - that means no additives, no adjuncts or preservatives. Brewed over long periods of time, the B&U range is unpasturised and all naturally fermented, which means no crazy hangovers. Ingredients are also key, we use only barley, yeast, hops and water. And a lot of love.

As a challenger brand how are you tackling distribution?

One step at a time. We have hopefully created some degree of demand. Now it is in the hands of the people. Vote with your wallets people. Demand more of your beer!

Don’t black people drink your beer?

Who said there was no such thing as a stupid question? Wow! Where does one begin with this...? Other than saying that good beer, really good beer, knows no colour. Amber, black, gold, blonde, white, red... All beers are created equal in His sight.

You both dress incredibly differently! Does it help that you balance one another as business partners?

Balance and different points of view always help.

Where will the 20 March festival be?

It is at the Neighbour Goods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill - check out for more information. See you there!

Why the name &union?

We had wanted to go with Brewers & Union, but the church above (our landlord) objected to the Brewers, so &Union it is.

How much of the 97 percent section of the beer market have you managed to capture to date?

Hard to say. We are going for a “one bottle at a time” approach, and hopefully adding to the market with new beer drinkers like women and wine lovers.

How do you build a brand if you don't have money for the start up?

Slowly. Financial resources are scarce and those that have access to funding aren’t that keen for risk.

Have you thought of trying to extend your beers into the shebeen culture?

We would love to. As long as we maintain the integrity and quality of the product, we would be happy to take it anywhere where people enjoy good food, good beer and a good time.

What is it about your beer that appeals specifically to Cape Town's creative set?

Our beer appeals to so many different “sets”. It is primarily about people that are tired of drinking the rubbish that the mass producing juggernauts have been dishing out for the last few decades. People that have a mind of their own and realise that they don't have to settle for the lowest common denominator when it comes to beer. A good few of those are creatives, and well done to them. They are leading the revolution.

Who are stockists of Steph Weiss in Cape Town?

Of course you can always get it at &Union at 110 Bree Street, Cape Town. But for other stockists checkout

Why do your beer labels suck so bad? For R40 a pop you could make an effort. And R65 for a prego. Really?

You know what's great? Life is about choices. There's a lot of cheap beer around if you're not interested in silly things like flavour or aroma... And you can get a fried chicken burger at a take-away joint since "happy cows" and quality are such trivial concepts anyway, right?

Watch the Talk with &Union