Does South Africa Have the Largest Brewery in the World?

In 1969, a merger between two interests and a hotel chain owned by Sol Kerzner created Southern Sun Hotels. For over a century, South African Breweries (SAB) has been the dominant force in South African brewing. This subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) was granted licenses to produce Guinness, Amstel and Carling Black Label between 1964 and 1966. In 1973, SAB built additional breweries in Botswana and Angola. Brewsters Craft is one of the breweries that uses sorghum grains, an ingredient found in many traditional African beers, for one of its beers.

Its cider business, led by Strongbow Apple Ciders, also reported strong growth in South Africa. Clarens Brewery is one of South Africa's first breweries and is located in Distillery, at the foot of the Maluti Mountains. Founded in 1820, Newlands Brewery is the oldest operating brewery in South Africa and is home to some of the country's best beer. In December 2004, SAB Ltd acquired 100% of Amalgamated Beverage Industries Limited (ABI), which became the soft drink division of SAB Ltd and created the largest beverage company in South Africa.

With a population of more than 58 million people, South Africa is the richest country on the African continent and is also its largest producer and consumer of beer. In 2001, global production of ABS reached 77 million hl (65,616, 928 US barrels), with 42% of this volume produced outside South Africa. Heineken does not provide exact figures for each of the countries it operates in but South Africa is among its best performers according to the financial results of its Dutch parent company. Representing 1.8 percent of the world's total beer consumption, South Africa is the twelfth most beer consuming country in the world.

In 2001, a Pan-African strategic alliance with the Castel group offered an opportunity to invest in promising new African markets and reap the benefits of economies of scale. The subsequent impact on the South African beer industry proved to be a blessing in disguise for SAB. Beer and boerewors (farmers' sausage) are inseparable for South Africans and it is no surprise that beer is considered South Africa's unofficial national drink, especially during sports season.