Until we get a working version of Duff Gardens, the SAB World of Beer is as close as we’ll get to a beer theme park. The elaborate attraction in the Newtown section of Johannesburg traces the history of beer in South Africa as well as the brewing process.
If you been to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin or Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, the SAB World of Beer is similar in scope, but just not as fun. Let’s face it, you don’t crave any of the South African Breweries’s line-up. The difference is the that the World of Beer is a ticketed guided tour.
To get you caught up on the economics, SAB merged with Miller in 2002 to become SABMiller. It is now the second largest brewing company in the world behind Anheuser-Busch InBev. Currently, those two will merge to create (deep breathe) Anheuser-Busch InBev-SABMiller. They will control 30% of the world’s beer, which seems completely fair and not a monopoly whatsoever.
Most of the beer that SAB makes isn’t widely distributed in North America, which is fine by me because we’ve got 2K+ craft breweries here so we’ve good with beer. These beers include Carling Black Label, Castle Lager, Castle Lite, Castle Milk Stout and Hansa Pilsener. At the end of the tour, if you spring for the premium package, you can sample their whole line of mass produced beers. Of course, I got the premium package. They did have a rare beer that’s hard to come by, the Castle Milk Stout Chocolate Infused Stout. That was tasty. The others were interesting to put it kindly.
Before you get buzzed, you go through an hour tour where you see awkwardly corny promo videos, animatronic workers making beer the old fashion way, a recreation of turn of the century Joberg, how beer is made and drank in the bush and the brewing process. I’ve been on about a dozen brewery tours so I know the business.
I’m a sucker for fake historical recreation with the robots and canned audio. The Hall of Presidents at Disney World is my spirit animal. The fake old timey South African pub was choice. You’ll get a beer here midway through the tour.
Before I post the photos, I have to tell you what was going on during the tour. There was a family of eight from India, who were causing a little disruption during our tour. You see, they hired their own photographer to take pictures of their every move. At points during the tour, they had to pose with everything and in different configuration — mom and dad, dad with sons, mom with daughters, the whole family, dad pointing at something. The friendly guide was like “Okay, we must be going, we don’t want to hold the group up.”