World of Beer Johannesburg
SAB World of Beer (Image: Broll Auctions)
  • The World of Beer in downtown Johannesburg goes under the auctioneer’s hammer on 27 May after being dormant for almost two years.
  • The building, built and managed by the South African Breweries, was opened by then-President Nelson Mandela in 1995 amid a wave of national optimism.
  • But the museum which chronicled South Africa's history of beer closed its doors in September 2019.
  • Now, the 5,215 square metre erf valued at R27 million will be leased for 32 years to the highest bidder.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The South African Breweries' (SAB) iconic World of Beer in downtown Johannesburg will go on auction at the end of May. Valued at R27 million, the building will be leased for 32 years to the highest bidder.

The SAB World of Beer is both an historically and culturally significant structure. Opened in 1995 by then-President Nelson Mandela, the building emerged alongside South Africa's newfound democracy and historic Rugby World Cup victory. It also marked 100-years since SAB's founding.

World of Beer Johannesburg
SAB World of Beer (Image: Broll Auctions)

For more than two decades, the World of Beer operated as an ode to South Africa's rich history of brewing. The museum, detailing the history of the hops and profiling some of the country's first master brewers, like Charles Glass, attracted around 50,000 visitors for guided tours each year.

The tours included a 20-minute drive to South Africa’s largest brewery, which still produces more than two million litres of beer per day.

World of Beer Johannesburg
SAB World of Beer (Image: Broll Auctions)

But in September 2019, SAB announced that the World of Beer would shut its doors as it "considered alternative opportunities" for visitors to experience "beer's rich heritage".

The closure was a blow to Johannesburg's inner-city tourism. Nestled within the Newtown Cultural Precinct, in walking distance from the historic Market Theatre, the SAB World of Beer had been a firm favourite among foreign tourists and local beer lovers alike.

World of Beer Johannesburg
SAB World of Beer (Image: Broll Auctions)

The World of Beer has been dormant for almost two years, but an auction scheduled for 27 May looks to give the building a new lease of life and uplift the lockdown-hit Newtown precinct.

The 5,215 square metre erf is owned by the City of Johannesburg and is zoned as an industrial space. The highest bidder will secure exclusive use of the venue and "simply pay the running costs and for any improvements or modifications they wish to make", according to Marc Kessel, the Senior Broker at Broll Auctions and Sales.

World of Beer Johannesburg
SAB World of Beer (Image: Broll Auctions)

"It is located within a trendy area, close to the Market Theatre and Turbine Hall and is close to the offices of major banks."

The building includes the museum and conference centre, minus the historical artefacts once housed in the World of Beer. It also includes 60 parking bays and, according to Kessel, is ideal for use as a mixed-use venue, or an entertainment and food hub.

World of Beer Johannesburg
SAB World of Beer (Image: Broll Auctions)

The auction will be held at Johannesburg’s Inanda Club on 27 May and starts at 14:00.

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