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 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
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 Selassie.
The Ethiopian Trade Journalthe 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 Breweryand 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 Beer||Kombolcha||Castel Winery||Hawassa Beer||Total|
|Value Added TAX||232||233|
BGI Ethiopia PLC (Industry)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia