Cunnamulla Beer Brewer, Burton’s Brewery Part of Australia’s History of Beer, Rum and Whisky in (QLD)
The history of beer in Australia dates back to the early days of British colonisation when Sir Captain Cook brought beer with him on his voyage to Australia. With the first fleet landing in the 18th century, the alcohol industry in Australia begun to expand with the first pub opening up in 1796 in Parramatta, the Mason Arms. John Boston became Australia’s first official brewer after creating a beer from Indian corn.
Beer didn’t make its way up to Queensland until a little later in the 19th century when larger was first brewed at the Castlemaine and Quinlan breweries.
Although larger is common in the modern world, early beers were top-fermented and quick-maturing ales. Lager was not brewed in Australia until 1885 and then brewed in Queensland in 1889. These beers were also brewed missing hops due to the fact no one had successfully refined hops. James Squire become the first in 1804.
The Castlemaine brewery has a long and rich history in Australia. Situated in Brisbane Queensland, it has produced Australia’s most popular beer, XXXX. The brewery begun in 1878, however really came in to its own after recruiting a master brewer from Germany. Alhois William Leitner used his expertise to solve the cloudy beer problem, keeping beer fresher for longer. The recipe is still used today for XXXX Bitter.
The X’s in XXXX represent the quality of beer, back in the day beers were given an X rating. The breweries first brew was given a XXX rating, however in 1924 the recipe was perfected gaining the fourth X. That same year Mr Fourex was introduced to the world quickly becoming one of Queensland’s most recognised symbols. XXXX also kept the troops hydrated throughout the first and second world war after being distributed around the world. XXXX was often called barbed wire by diggers.
Over time breweries have come and gone throughout Queensland’s vast landscape like Cunnamulla Beer Brewer Burton’s that existed in Cunnamulla in 1885. A local historian confirmed despite strong demand the locally brewed Cunnamulla beer was not successful due to the bore water.
Burtons Brewery was situated on the banks of the Warrego River on the current Cunnamulla State School Site. All these years on, broken bottles with the breweries logo on it are still being dug up around the site.
Queensland Brewery also referred to as Bulimba Beer supplied wooden kegs to Club Hotel Cunnamulla in the late 1800’s. It was another major brewery that opened prior to 1883 changing hands and locations from Teneriffe to Fortiutude Valley. Carlton United Breweries took over the brewery in 1961 and in 1993 the brewery was relocated to Yatla.
In 1940 a somewhat un recorded and forgotten beer riot took place on Brisbane’s Queen street. The riots took over the streets for six hours after the Government decided to enforce strict liquor regulations. They imposed closing venues at 8:00pm and no trading on Sundays, forcing civilians to take matters into their own hands.
Despite beers popularity, rum quickly became the beverage of choice among settlers and convicts as mentioned in the following convict song.
Cut yer name across me backbone
Stretch me skin across yer drum
Iron me up on Pinchgut Island
From now to Kingdom Come.
I’ll eat yer Norfolk Dumpling
Like a juicy Spanish plum,
Even dance the Newgate Hornpipe
If ye’ll only gimme Rum
Rum experienced rapid growth in the late 18th century and became extremely popular in the 19th eventually becoming a semi official currency of the time. Drunkenness became a huge issue during this time period with even kids often being seen stumbling the streets.
In 1808 the Rum Rebellion became the only ever successful armed take over of Government in Australian history.
Its cause is widely misunderstood, however it is common belief that the autocratic William Bligh was removed as he threatened the massive profits that were being made from trading spirits. This perception suggest it was no more then an argument between unsavoury parties. The Rum Rebellion had a much deeper story and was basically a build up of a long running battle for power and a fight over the future of the colony.
In modern Queensland, rum still remains highly popular with Bundaberg Rum now sweeping the world. Beenleigh Rum is the states oldest rum, however Bundaberg is by far the most iconic and successful. The Bundaberg Rum distillery began in 1888 because local sugar mills didn’t know what to do with the waste molasses after the sugar was extracted. Men that worked in these mills noticed the potential profits and held a meeting at The Royal Hotel on 1 August 1885 to discuss.
Soon after, Bundaberg produced its first rum in 1889 and continued operation until 1907, when it ceased operation for seven years. The distillery has had its fair share of set backs with two fires in 1936 and 1939, in which rum spilt in to the near by Burnett River. With clever advertising campaigns, Bundaberg Rum has become an international beverage, winning awards on the global stage for its Master Distillers Collective Rum. Bundaberg Rum has become another Queensland icon, however Whisky falls short of that status.
Queensland isn’t big on Whisky with only one distillery.
The Castel Glen distillery is Queensland’s only whisky manufacturer and produces a number of 100% natural Whisky beverages.
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