Castlemaine Perkins Brewery – History in Pictures

Stories have emerged in the press this week casting doubt on the future of the iconic Castlemaine Perkins Brewery in Milton, home of the famous XXXX Bitter. The United Voice union has claimed that parent company Lion has threatened to close the brewery but a spokesman for Lion has denied the claim. I can call the brewery iconic with some confidence as it was named one of the Q150 Icons as part of Queensland’s 150th birthday celebrations in 2009.

Flooding on Milton Road during the 1974 Brisbane flood, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 181873

View of Milton Road during the 1974 flood with the landmark brewery on the hill., John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 181873

Victorian brothers Nicholas and Edward Fitzgerald bought the site of a failing distillery on Milton Road in 1877 and opened a brewery which they named Castlemaine after a brewery they already owned in Castlemaine, Victoria. The first beer was brewed there in 1878 and was named XXX Sparkling Ale.

Castlemaine Brewery at Milton, Brisbane, 1879, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 9357

Castlemaine Brewery at Milton, Brisbane, 1879, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 9357

Some years earlier Patrick ‘Paddy’ Perkins, another Victorian with interests in mining and brewing, opened a brewery in Toowoomba in 1866 and purchased the City Brewery in Brisbane in 1872. In 1876 Perkins moved to Queensland to manage the brewing business and from 1877 was member for Aubigney in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. His reelection in 1883 was declared void due to electoral fraud but he was not disqualified from standing again and was elected in Cambooya in 1888 and was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1893 where he sat until his death in 1901.

Brewer and politician Patrick Perkins, 1879, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 166760

Brewer and politician Patrick Perkins, 1879, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 166760

City Brewery, owned by Perkins & Co., Brisbane, 1872-1882, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 9480

City Brewery, owned by Perkins & Co., Brisbane, 1872-1882, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 9480

XXXX Bitter was introduced in 1924 after Castlemaine brewery employed a German brewer, Alhois William Leitner. Cartoon character Mr Fourex appeared in advertising at the same time.

Castlemaine XXXX Sparkling Prize Ale label, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 190334

Castlemaine XXXX Sparkling Prize Ale label, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 190334

Fourex beer advertisement by Castlemaine Perkins Ltd., 1920, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 150402

Fourex beer advertisement by Castlemaine Perkins Ltd., 1920, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 150402

In 1928 Perkins brewing company was purchased by Castlemaine Brewing to form Castlemaine Perkins Limited. Castlemaine Perkins merged with Tooheys in 1980 to form Castlemaine Tooheys and the company was acquired by Alan Bond’s Bondcorp in 1985 and taken over by Lion Nathan in 1990. XXXX Gold was introduced in 1991. In 2009 Japanese company Kirin Holdings assumed 100% ownership of Lion Nathan which was renamed Lion in 2011. Although the Milton Brewery has been in operation on the same site since 1877 much of the production of XXXX Bitter now takes place in the Tooheys brewery in Western Sydney and XXXX Gold is also produced in South Australia.

View of the Castlemaine Brewery in Milton, Brisbane, 1932, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 102541

View of the Castlemaine Brewery in Milton, Brisbane, 1932, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 102541

Staff of the Castlemaine Brewery in Milton, ca. 1900, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 1892

Staff of the Castlemaine Brewery in Milton, ca. 1900, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 1892

Men waiting for work at Milton Brewery, Brisbane, ca. 1937, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 43391

Men waiting for work at Milton Brewery, Brisbane, ca. 1937, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Neg: 43391

View looking towards Milton during the flood, 2011, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Image number: 28182-0001-0015

View looking towards Milton during the flood, 2011, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland Image number: 28182-0001-0015

Castlemaine XXXX Bitter features quite prominently in our current exhibition Freedom Then, Freedom Now in the section ‘Drink, smoke, ‘n gamble’. The exhibition continues in the Philip Bacon Heritage Gallery, level 4, State Library until 19 November 2017. Castlemaine Perkins was inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame in 2009.

Freedom Then, Freedom Now exhibition, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Freedom Then, Freedom Now exhibition, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Simon Miller – Library Technician, State Library of Queensland