Over 40 525 litres of lager are sold every minute by S.A. Breweries. That’s a lot of beer! Another way of putting it is to say that at least the same amount needs to be produced every minute, and then packaged and dispatched in such a way that it gets to your favourite outlet in time for your next visit! So the next time that you see one of their large transporters on the road salute it and stay out of the way – there are a whole lot of thirsty people out there who don’t want to be kept waiting.
That was one of the fascinating snippets of information that I learned during my visit to the SAB World of Beer in Newtown. It is all the more remarkable in view of the lengthy process involved, from planting to processing to drinking. Fortunately we did not have to wait that long. From the known beginnings in ancient Mesopotamia, through Africa and Europe we traced the origins and development of this ‘magic brew’ before walking through a greenhouse to see the ingredients in their natural state. This led on to a look at each stage of the development in full scale brewhouse, a visit to a little honky-tonk pub, which included a small glass of beer, and a walk through a traditional Soweto shebeen typical of the days of restriction.
The tour lasts 90 minutes and is extremely well prepared and presented. A lot of use is made of sound and excellent short video presentations, many in different rooms that have been specially constructed and designed. An ancient temple, an African village under the stars, the cellars of a Bavarian brewery were all there for us to experience as we watched and listened to the sound and visuals. In one small theatre we donned special glasses to get the full 3D effect as we journeyed into the depths of the temple through flying stones and dark passages.
At the end of the tour we were taken to The Tap Room where our ticket entitled us to two free beers. It is a small and attractive pub, with tables and chairs and a verandah looking north over Newtown. They also serve meals and I enjoyed delicious fish and chips that came very quickly. Underneath it is the Tankard and Togs – a gift shop selling glasses and a small range of ‘beer gear’ and sports accessories.
The World of Beer was opened in 1995 and has proved to be very popular with both locals and tourists. The tours cost R30 per person and are limited to 25 people but with no minimum number – there were three of us on mine. Booking is essential. Allow yourselves time for the tour and a snack, either before or afterwards, as well as space to browse the gift shop. There is secure and covered parking within the Centre, which is easy to find. The website is worth a visit and has a map and very good directions.
I enjoyed it very much, and was impressed with everything from the warm and smiling welcome and the cheerful helpfulness of all the staff, to the creativity of the tour and the professionalism of the presentations. Anyone with even a passing interest in beer should count it a very enjoyable experience. Think of going in a small group if you can, just for the added fun of it.
Relax with friends whenever you can – the laughter and love brings healing