The Bulimba Brewery, as it was first known, was built in 1882 on the east bank of the Brisbane River near the ferry. It had good wharfage facilities, and was part-owned and managed by R. Tooth, who went into liquidation in 1883. The newly-formed Queensland Brewery Co. acquired the property and equipment, and built a new brewery on the site, appointing Henry Bolton as managing director, and Walter Lanfear in charge of the brewing. The brewery officially opened on 24 November 1883, and the daily output of beer soon reached 50 hogsheads, a considerable quantity for Brisbane at the time. Because of its earlier name, the brewery continued to be referred to as the Bulimba Brewery until well into the twentieth century.
Early in 1885 the Queensland Brewery Co. was sold to the Queensland Brewing Co. Ltd for £55,490, and the shares, which were offered in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, were quickly secured.
Substantial losses were incurred in 1890, and there was even talk of winding up the company. Three years later disastrous floods washed away a portion of the brewery, causing a financial crisis. Then there were more problems in 1896 when a price war between breweries took a heavy toll on the company’s profits. During 1898 the company began to pasteurise its bottled beer, and the introduction of Gold Top Pale Ale that year saw a gradual return to profitability. This poster was made in the 1960s and shows how that brand endured.
The company had purchased property in Brunswick Street, New Farm, previously used by Cameron & Co. as a tobacco factory. After much renovation and upgrading of the equipment, brewing operations were shifted to this large three-storey brick building. As it was close to Fortitude Valley, the locals and the media frequently referred to it as the Valley Brewery. The old brewery at Bulimba was sold in 1906 to Dalgety & Co. Ltd as valuable wharf-frontage property.
The Elizabeth Street offices, and the wine-and-spirit department, were moved to Queen Street in 1914. In 1923 the company purchased the Silverstream Brewery in Toowoomba, and built a new modern brewery on the site. A vital period in the company’s history began in 1934 when the directors embarked on a policy of purchasing freehold hotels across the state of Queensland, ensuring outlets for the products of their Toowoomba and Brisbane breweries.
According to company records, the first rise in the price of beer for thirty years occurred in 1950, and it was another seven years before a further increase. A new bottling plant was installed with a capacity of 1200 dozen bottles per hour, and for the first time since 1942 in the state of Queensland bottled beer then became freely available, and not on quota. In 1956 the company purchased the remaining properties making it the owner of the entire block bounded by Brunswick, Martin and Curphey Streets.
Carlton & United Breweries Ltd, Melbourne, acquired all the interests of the Queensland Brewery Co. Ltd in 1961, including all hotels and the breweries in Toowoomba and Brisbane. In November 1971 the name was changed to Carlton & United Breweries (Queensland) Ltd, and in 1975 the word ‘Queensland’ was deleted. The brewery was closed in 1993 following the acquisition by CUB of the Power Brewing Co. Ltd, Yatala, 70 km south of Brisbane.