From its humble beginnings at Bouverie Street in the suburb of Carlton in Melbourne Carlton & United Breweries has grown into world’s biggest beer company and brews popular beers such as Melbourne Bitter, Victoria Bitter, Crown Lager and Carlton Draught.
In 2011, Cascade Brewery was purchased by brewer SABMiller when it acquired Foster’s in 2011 which in turn become part of the Carlton & United Breweries. With this acquisition, CUB now traces its beginnings from 1832, the year when Cascade Brewery was established.
In 1858, Theodore Rosenberg established a brewery named, ‘North Melbourne Brewery’ at 24 Bouverie Street in Today’s Carlton only to fold it within a year. Though the proposed suburb of Carlton was advertised in the Government Gazette of 1852, the area was still known as North Melbourne. In 1864, John Bellman reopened the brewery with a new name, ‘Carlton Brewery’, borrowing the name of the suburb it situated and in 1865 sold it to Edward Latham.
Born in Liverpool in England as fourth son of a contractor, Latham came to Victoria in charge of an invalid brother. A day after arriving in Melbourne, his brother died. Latham left for Tasmania soon and after travelling through Tasmania, he met and married a widow, Bertha Ashton. During this time, he also managed to make a connection with George Milne, brother of Sir William Milne of Adelaide.
After returning to Melbourne in 1864, Latham was on lookout for a business to buy and Carlton Brewery was on the market for sale. Together with George Milne, Latham bought the business.
A reputed brewer named Alfred Terry joined the business as the chief brewer. Terry’s speciality was lighter beers which were far more palatable for Australian heat than the heavy European imported beers. The company began to produce 50 hogsheads a week and it soon reached the level of 1200 hogsheads a week. Milne retired soon making Latham the sole proprietor of the business.
As the business grew, the site at Carlton was expanded with more stables and cellars and a brewing tower was constructed in the early 1870’s. In 1881 Latham sold the company to Melbourne Brewing and Malting company but retained large shareholding in the company and remained as a manager until 1884, as per the conditions of sale.
Before the formation of Metropolitan Fire Brigade Board (MBF) after the passing of The Fire Brigades Act in 1890, Melbourne was served by a system of volunteer and private fire brigades. Carlton Brewery operated a fire brigade served by volunteer brewery workers, which had a good reputation on those years.
In 1883, a warehouse was erected on Bouverie Street and a spirit and wine store were built at the corner of Franklin and Swanston Streets. Latham withdrew his capital from Carlton Breweries in 1888 and in 1889, company amalgamated with Terry’s West End Brewery to form Carlton and West End Breweries. Amalgamated company consisted of 150,000 shares. Malt House was built at Swanston Street in 1904. Malt house stored hops, sugar and malted barley. Fermenting tanks were at the basement of the building.
In 1907 six breweries Carlton, McCracken’s City Brewery, Victoria, Castlemaine, Shamrock and Fosters merged to form a new company, Carlton & United Breweries.
In 1913, with the issue of increased capital in the form of cumulative preference shares to a larger number of shareholders, Carlton & United breweries has become a public limited company. In 1925, Melbourne Co-operative Brewery Company joined the group. Over the years, Bendigo Brewery, Geelong Brewery, Richmond N S Brewing company Ltd and Ballarat Brewing Company were taken over by Carlton United. It consolidated in Queensland by taking over Northern Australian Breweries Ltd, Thomas McLaughlin Company Pty Ltd and Queensland Brewery Ltd. Later acquisitions include Thos McLauchlin & Co Pty Ltd and Tooth & Co.
CUB ceased its operations at Bouverie Street in 1987, after the company consolidated its operations at Abbotsford. Most of the buildings at the site were demolished in the 1990’s. In 2008, the brewery site on Swanston and Bouverie streets, were excavated by La Trobe University and heritage consultants Godden Mackay Logan ahead of the planned redevelopment. Today, leaving only the outside granite wall, multi storey commercial and residential complex is under construction
Who owns Carlton & United Breweries?
In 1983, Carlton & United Breweries were delisted and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Elders IXL. In 1990, Elders IXL changed its name to Foster’s Group. In 2004 Carlton United Breweries changed its name to Carlton United Beverages. In 2009, Fosters separated Australian Wine division from Australian Beer, Cider and Spirits division and the latter was renamed, Carlton & United Breweries.
In 2011, South African owned brewer SAB Miller acquired Forster’s group. In 2016, Brazilian-Belgian multinational drink and brewing holdings company based in Leuven, Belgium acquired SAB Miller and SAB Miller ceased to exist as a corporation. In 2019, Japanese beer company Asahi has agreed to pay AU$16 billion to a takeover deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev for Carlton & United Breweries, which will be finalised in 2020.