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Our History

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1923 to 1935

Our story began in 1922

It all started in 1922. Mussie Hal, a Belgian national of Ethiopian descent established St. George Brewery after concluding an agreement with the monarchy. Mr. Hal bought 20,000 square meters of land near the present day Mexico Square in Addis Ababa. Soon after, with archaic machinery, 137 workers and raw materials imported from abroad, the factory started brewing and production of St. George Beer. Production capacity did not exceed 200-300 bottles per day during that period.

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1936 to 1941

Meanwhile in 193s

In 1936, after the occupation of Addis Ababa, the Italians took over St. George Brewery. After the installment of new machineries and the expansion of production facilities and work force, the brewery was able to expand production and started to meet the increasing demand for “modern” beer. With the Italians at the helm, production reached three to four thousand bottles of beer per day and the first draft beer was introduced packaged in wooden casks.

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1942 to 1974

Starting from the 1940s

St. George Brewery’s ownership was assigned to the private domain of Emperor Haile Sellassie I and four other individuals after the expulsion of the Italian occupying forces in 1941. During the 40’s and 50’s, beer drinking became popular among locals and St. George Beer became the undisputed champion in Ethiopia. This led to a major overhaul and expansion of the brewery to meet the growing demand. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s St. George Beer’s popularity grew steadily along with the brewery’s product portfolio with the additions of new brands like St. George Stout Beer, which was the first dark or Stout beer produced in Ethiopia, and Pilsner Beer, a blond Lager variety.

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1974 to 1991

And up to the early 90s

St. George Brewery was nationalized and handed over to The Ministry of Finance in 1974 when the military junta “Dergue” came to power. In 1975, St. George Brewery’s old maltery was revived to process locally sourced malt. Its expansion and modernization was completed in 1977, enabling it to satisfy its own malt needs and supply the surplus to other breweries. In addition to improving and modernizing its brewing methods, preparation of fresh yeast also started during this period, greatly improving the taste of St. George Beer. In the late 70’s, the iconic brand name St. George Beer and the St. George logo was replaced with “Addis Beer”, until it was revived again in the late 90’s when BGI Ethiopia took over ownership.

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Post 1991

And from the 90s onward

St. George Brewery resumed operation without much change except few reshufflings and replacements to top management after the fall of the Dergue regime in 1991. Towards the end of 1997, BGI – the brewery and beverage production wing of Castel Group – was established as BGI Ethiopia P.L.C. to facilitate private investments in the brewery sector, which was the first of its kind in Ethiopia. In the town of Kombolcha (Wollo), BGI Ethiopia established the first privately owned brewery by acquiring 47 Hectares of land and The Kombolcha Brewery was officially inaugurated, producing two brands: Bati Beer, which was a mainstream local brand, and Castel Beer, an international premium brand. In conjunction with operating its own brewery and producing its own beer brands, BGI Ethiopia purchased the historic St. George Brewery and the iconic St. George Beer brand in December 1998. After privatizing the St. George Brewery, BGI Ethiopia invested heavily on several renovation, modernization, and expansion projects to bring the old brewery, the quality of its products and the competency of its workforce to international standards. BGI Ethiopia also invested considerably in conducting unique marketing campaigns and corporate social responsibility schemes, which were non-existent in the industry at the time. Several product innovations were also introduced, including the first pasteurized draft beer. Throughout the 2000’s, several expansion and modernization projects continued on the two breweries (Addis and Kombolcha) increasing their combined production capacity from 500,000 Hl. to 1,400,000 Hl. In June 2011, BGI Ethiopia inaugurated its third and largest state of the art brewery in the town of Hawassa. BGI Ethiopia also continued to expand its product portfolio by introducing the Amber beer brand in 2012, which was and still is the first of its kind in the country. By mid 2012, BGI Ethiopia has also ventured into the winemaking business, building and operating the first privately owned winery and vineyard in Zeway town with an initial investment of 22 Million USD.