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The 80 Years Young Brewery

The year 1922 is way back in time to be referred to as the old days. The Ethiopia of those days were under the rule of Empress Zewditu Menlik and

Addis Ababa was not even 3 decades old. That Addis Ababa was a scene of huge crowed of what the foreigners call tukuls (grass roofed cottages). It

was just beginning to get ready to host things like modernism, the light of civilization, new development/progress, etc. Roads had been paved, cars

were coming, construction of modern houses began, newspapers appeared, schools opened, and the railway was streaming in. One of the modern things that happened

then was the opening of the brewery. Many got stunned at wonders of modernity. True, people have heard about the wonderful things made in Europe and America.

But witnessing these things on ones own land is something different.

The founder of St. George Brewery, according to some sources, is Mussie Dawit Hale who is Belgian. Other sources say that the brewery was owned and

operated by a German company. In fact, the brewery was set up by Mussie Dawit Hale who lately sold it to a German company. Some 43 years ago, the

Ethiopian Trade Journal, (Vol 1, No 1, August 1960) wrote: The St. George Brewery is situated near the Mexico Square. Addis Ababa, and occupies an area

of 20,000 Sq.Meters of land. The beer factory was started 36 years ago by a German Company and an Ethiopian Company took it over six years ago.

The brewery stands right on the same site it was 80 years ago. During the time of the last Emperor it was known as Marshal Smut Street. It was fairly big

building and it started off as one of the pioneers in Ethiopia's industrial development. The factory started with machineries that were operated by hand and

foot and work was done by direct human labor. Transporting of the raw material to the silo, fermenting of the malt, boiling the barley, filtering the beer,

filling the bottles, etc. were all done manually. Basic raw materials like barley and hops were imported from Europe. The management staff of the factory and

the leading technicians who controlled the brewery's activities were all foreigners. During its first years about 200 bottles (half liter size) were produced daily.

In those days, liquor houses were not many and the people had no choice apart from drinking the traditional tella and tejj. Going to bars, in the manner

that people are doing now, was not practiced by most people. According to some senior people in the brewery who claim to have the first customers were members

of the royality. Some unauthentic sources say that the brewery was closed during the five years of Italian occupation. The factory resumed its work after the occupation

and according to some reports there arose problems related to ownership. The exact nature of the argument stood unclear. Eventually, however, an Ethiopian company

took over the brewery in 1952/3. This company was said to have been organized as a share holding entity, the larger share of which was owned by Emperor Haile


Generally, St. George Brewery could be said as having scored good results in the 1940s and 1950s. Towards the end of the 1950s the annual production of the

brewery has reached 50,000 hectoliters. According to the review made on The Ethiopian Trade Journal the brewery had 53 silos, which had the capacity of

100 hectoliters each . There were about 300 employees who worked in shifts for 24 hours. Trucks were also introduced that transported beer throughout the

empire. The brew-master and other technical staff were Ethiopians. Some of the old machineries were changed and a few semi-automatic machines installed. Although

the brewery was modern for its time most of the work was still done manually. A testimony made by a senior member, Ato Haddis Negash Tassew, who joined the Brewery

in 1960 explains the situation. .... There were no boilers that were heated by electrical or fuel energy. Timberwood was used to make fire and the flame was too

big to get near.In those days everything was done by human labor, and it was tough and difficult. Workers were obliged to carry a sack full of barley up the stairs.

The filtered beer was filled by manual filter with five spouts. The bottles were also crowned with corks by machines operated manually. Slowly, but steadily,

St. George Brewery continued to grow. In the early years of the 1970's the brewery was in good shape in terms of its machineries, physical buildings, vehicles, marketing

network, etc. It even had plan to open a new plant for the production of soft drinks. In 1974 the brewery as nationalized. Even though this created some obstacles the

Brewery pulled through with some improvements particularly with regard to manpower development and betterment in workers engagement. It also started to produce draught

beer that enjoyed popularity and big sales. On the other hand the Brewery was lacking the finance it needed to introduce new technologies that came in the 1970's. The name

of the Brewery was also changed as Pilsner Brewery and later as Addis Ababa Brewery. Most of all the, workers showed great commitment and dedication to keep

the Brewery and its product popular. The role played by the Brewery was significant in supporting and promoting other social activities including St. George Sport Club.

St. George Brewery, is once again privatized. The factory is now owned by BGI, an internationally acclaimed Brewing Company that operates in many countries.

It as excellent reputation in producing quality beer and brought St. George to the same standard. Today, St. George is the oldest beer in Ethiopia and is

certainly also the youngest with the fresh dynamism.

Facts About BGI Ethiopia PLC

BGI has three brewery factories around the country including Addis Ababa, Kombolcha and Hawassa and is currently undertaking the construction of winery around Zeway.

Number of Employees:-

St George BeerKombolchaCastel WineryHawassa BeerTotal

Paid TAX (In Million ETB)

TAX Year20092010
Excise TAX254367
Value Added TAX232233
Profit TAX138600
Customs Duty36600
Sur TAX32600

Amount of Sales: In ETB Excluding VAT


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BGI Ethiopia PLC (Industry)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


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