Scaling Up: The Technicalities of Big Brewing

02 Jul 15

Brewing billions of litres of beer requires sophisticated equipment & precision. Over 120 years we’ve perfected the art of beer on a big scale.

We started small, with one great beer. Slowly and skilfully, over the years we have expanded our brewing operations across South Africa, and beyond. As we grew so did our range of brands. Today we brew an array of styles ranging from the darkest stouts to light lagers, with plenty of variations in between.

As we scaled up our operations we took advantage of modern technology, going from wood to steel and small scale output to multiple mega litres. We’ve engaged highly-skilled experts such as scientists, engineers, master brewers, planners and innovators in growing our operations efficiently, while still producing the same great beers that South Africans know and love. Today our nine breweries across South Africa have a combined annual production of 2.75 billion litres of liquid a year!

Scientific and technological developments have also allowed more understanding and control of our brewing materials and process. By the time a batch of beer has been brewed, it’s been through a total of 136 quality tests. Rigorous testing means that big batches are closely monitored.

Not many brewers brew this big, so we’ve had to develop our own systems to keep up. We’re constantly looking for ways to make our brewing more efficient and more sustainable and we’re improving this all the time.

Our maltings plant at Caledon is one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.
It never sleeps.Every 14 to 16 hours it produces a batch of 306 tonnes of malt. That’s the equivalent of 9 rail wagons.
The biggest packaging line is at Rosslyn Brewing - it fills 2000 cans a minute.
That's 120 000 cans per hour.
Sophisticated equipment & absolute precision is applied to every step of the brewing process.
These fermentation vessels each hold 264 000 litres of beer.This is where the yeast works its magic for a few weeksIf you drank two beers a day, it would take you 365 years to drink just one of these vessels.
The biggest packaging line is at Rosslyn Brewery - it fills 2 000 cans a minute.
That's 120 000 cans per hour
If all our packaging lines at all our breweries were running at the same time we would fill just under 20 000 containers a minute.

Keep an eye on SAB Stories in the upcoming weeks as we explore more of what it means to be a big brewer.