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SAB World of Beer launches tour to Alrode Brewery

Think you’ve experienced the very best of what the World of Beer has to offer? Think again! We’ve introduced a new tour and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

For the first time, you can now combine your visit to the World of Beer with a trip to SAB's Alrode Brewery, the largest brewery in Africa and, until very recently, the largest brewery in the southern hemisphere.

<p>Welcome to SAB&#39;s Alrode Brewery&nbsp;(Image: SAB World of Beer)</p>

Welcome to SAB's Alrode Brewery (Image: SAB World of Beer)

Alrode Brewery was established in 1965 and was taken over by SAB in 1971. In the beginning it had a total installed capacity of just 380 000 hectolitres per year. Today it boasts a whopping capacity of 8.8-million hectolitres per year, amounting to 28% of SAB's 31.4-million hectolitre capacity in South Africa. It has three Steinecker brew houses on site (two 660 hectolitre brew length and one enormous 1 500 hectolitre brew length), 96 fermentation vessels, 60 maturation vessels, three filters and 26 bright beer tanks.

You've got to see it to believe it.

On Friday 19 August, the World of Beer launched its very first tour to Alrode Brewery. Visitors arrived at the World of Beer at 9.30am, in time to attend a shortened beer tour at 10am. At 11.15am, just when our beer tour would usually leave the shebeen to offer some insight into the brewing process, visitors were whisked from the premesis and shuttled off to Alrode, about half an hour's drive from the World of Beer, to experience the beer-brewing process in action.

<p>The brew house and it&#39;s enormous&nbsp;mash tun, lauter tun and&nbsp;boil kettle&nbsp;(Image: SAB World of Beer)</p>

The brew house and it's enormous mash tun, lauter tun and boil kettle (Image: SAB World of Beer)

<p>Veteran trader brewer Anton Erasmus guides&nbsp;visitors on the first Alrode tour&nbsp;(Image: SAB World of Beer)</p>

Veteran trader brewer Anton Erasmus guides visitors on the first Alrode tour (Image: SAB World of Beer)

Nothing can prepare you for the scale of Alrode and for the sheer volume of beer that is produced there every single day. The numbers beggar belief.

Alrode's plant size covers 25 rugby fields and 2.1-milion litres of beer are brewed per day, using 8-million litres of water in the process and producing up to 70 tonnes of steam per hour. To cover all of these beers, Alrode has to print 4.2-million labels every year or 75 000 labels per week. The brewery produces Castle, Carling Black Label, Hansa Pilsener, Castle Milk Stout, Castle Lite and Miller Genuine Draft.

Visitors were guided through some of the brewery's most impressive sites by experienced trade brewer, Anton Erasmus, who paused to explain the many processes in place in the boiler room, brew house, control room, filtration plant, the fermenting and lagering farms, and the packaging plant. There are two labellers In the packaging plant, explained Anton. "Each of them can do 80% of the line's rate of capacity. So if by some fluke there's a gearbox breakdown on one, we could still run the line at 80% capacity ... Also, there's double redundancy. This one, here," he said pointing to the labeller closest to his wrapt audience, "is putting on the front label, but right next to it there's a stationary one already linked up, in case the first one goes wrong. So there's basically four times the amount of the line capacity just for back label, front label, side labels and foil."

It's difficult to describe the enormity of the packaging plant, which is why we'll let the pictures do the talking – although even they can't do it justice.

<p>The sound of glass and machinery moving is very loud in the packaging plant and protective hearing equipment is necessary&nbsp;(Image: SAB World of Beer)</p>

The sound of glass and machinery moving is very loud in the packaging plant and protective hearing equipment is necessary (Image: SAB World of Beer)

<p>The process is largely automated and the lack of human intervention is striking&nbsp;(Image: SAB World of Beer)</p>

The process is largely automated and the lack of human intervention is striking (Image: SAB World of Beer)

<p>The plant seems to go on in every direction&nbsp;(Image: SAB World of Beer)</p>

The plant seems to go on in every direction (Image: SAB World of Beer)

At the end of the tour, visitors returned to the World of Beer in time for a late lunch in our Tap Room, where they discussed their experiences and enjoyed a few pints of the beers that have made SAB famous the world over.

"We're always looking for ways to enhance our visitors' experience at the World of Beer," said World of Beer general manager Tony Rubin, "and combining our tour with a behind-the-scenes look at Alrode Brewery really allows us to take things to the next level. The scale of Alrode is just so impressive, the process so fascinating, that it's sure to amaze everyone, from novice beer drinkers to seasoned brewers."

The World of Beer’s Alrode tours will be open to the public from September, with the inaugural public tour taking place on the 23rd. Thereafter, tours will take place on one Saturday every month and, ultimately, every week.

The tour, which includes a guided visit through both the World of Beer and the Alrode Brewery, as well as transport, refreshments and lunch, comes at a cost of only R380 per person. Please note that space is limited to 20 people per tour, making the experience perfect for small personal gatherings or professional team-building events. Contact us today for more information. 

<p>Any one up for a cold one?&nbsp;(Image: SAB World of Beer)</p>

Any one up for a cold one? (Image: SAB World of Beer)

<p>Visit Alrode Brewery today&nbsp;(Image: SAB World of Beer)</p>

Visit Alrode Brewery today (Image: SAB World of Beer)

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