Carlton Brewery was the forerunner of Carlton & United Breweries Ltd. First known as the Union Brewery, it was started in August 1858 by Theodore Rosenberg who began brewing Bavarian ‘Lagerbeer’. Edward Latham took over the brewery in 1865 and is considered by many historians to be the founder of what is now Carlton & United Breweries Ltd. Latham was said to be ‘a man of unswerving integrity and an ornament to the brewing profession’. Among other deeds of benevolence, Latham founded and financed the Clergymen’s Retreat at Queenscliff.
One of Australia’s best-known brewery icon posters had its origins in the Upper Yarra. It showed Sam Knott (also known as Sam Griffin), who ‘allus had wan at eleven’, ‘wan’ being a schooner of Carlton Ale, back in the days before Carlton had united with most of Melbourne’s other breweries. As if to emphasise the point that posters were the plain man’s picture gallery, the Sam Knott poster was printed with a mock gilded frame, just as many others were at the time.
Sam had been a goldminer before he switched to the more settled life of a roustabout of a mountain hotel near Aberfeldy, high in the mountain forest country between Walhalla and Woods Point. A popular soul, Sam lived in the tradition of hospitality, always willing to serve the needs of man or beast, for horses as well as people needed sustenance and accommodation in those nineteenth century hotels.
Although Sam was never afraid of a little work, the wander-lust came over him now and again, and in time he moved from Aberfeldy to find a new niche at Mc Veigh’s Upper Yarra Hotel, at Walshs Creek, high in the Yarra Valley, where he worked as the gardener. His pay was ‘a pound a week and found’, but Paddy, the publican, had fairly permanent possession of the pound note which Sam left with him to pay for his daily ‘wan’ or more. He handed over the same note once a week, but it went straight back in the till to the special place kept for it, Sam having become rather attached to that particular note.
One day in 1897, about eleven, a young Melbourne photographer Edgar Newlands happened to be in McVeigh’s bar when Sam stepped in for his glass. He entered his photo in a Carlton Brewery poster competition and won. Sands & McDougall Melbourne were the printers and the lithographic artists were Percy Leason and fellow fellow apprentice Dick McCann.
This portrait poster was eventually to be seen in just about every hotel in Victoria. Closely associated with it was a little verse:
I allus have wan at eleven,
It’s a habit wot’s gotta be done,
Cos if I don’t have one at eleven,
I allus have eleven at one.