Late in the eighteenth century, John Boston became Australia's first serious brewer with his drink brewed from Indian corn bittered with cape gooseberry leaves.

But if you have beer, you need a pub and in 1796 Australia’s first legal pub, the Masons Arms, was built in Parramatta by James Larra. Coincidentally, Larra was a Frenchman who was deported from London for stealing a tankard (maybe he was already thinking of setting up a pub).

Hops were first successfully grown in Australia by James Squire in 1804. His achievement did not go unrecognised. The Government Gazette of 16 March 1806 states that he was awarded a cow from the governor’s herd for his efforts. Although Squire was a pioneer in this regard, his brew may not have been that great. An epitaph on a gravestone in a Parramatta churchyard bears this amusing encryption:


Today Squire is honoured by the Malt Shovel Brewery with its excellent James Squire Ale.  

A chapter in Squire's story is printed on each label (there are six chapters in all).  We are pleased to say that the new Squire Ale is a true amber nectar and the epitaph no longer applies!

On 16 September 1804 Australia’s first government owned brewery commenced production in Parramatta (the same area where the first pub opened its doors a few years previously). Settlers were actively encouraged to grow barley and to trade it for beer. Australia’s first and last government brewery was privatised two years later. It was purchased by Thomas Rushdon who was its head (and only) brewer.

On 23 December 1804 a rival brewery is established by Mr P. Larken who places the following ad in the Sydney Gazette:

"Larken’s Brewery. Ales-Pale, Brown and Amber; Twopenny, and London Porter, etc, prepared after the system of the British breweries. The advertiser respectfully hopes that the general introduction of these wholesome, long and justly celebrated English beverages, as tending to supersede the too destructive use of ardent spirits, will recommend the present undertaking to the attention of the colony from its prompt conduciveness to health, sobriety, and economy."  

Somewhat different from the beer advertising of today!  But effective nonetheless.


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