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Historic Beer Birthday: Edmund Resch

Today is the birthday of Edmund Resch (June 9, 1847-May 22, 1923). He was the oldest brother of Richard and Emil Resch, who founded the Lion Brewery in Australia, although it was later known as Resch’s Brewery. The brewery was taken over by Tooth and Co. in 1929, but today is owned by Carlton and United Breweries.

Because his career is so intertwined with his brothers, this is his older brother Edmund’s biography, also from the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

Edmund Resch (1847-1923) and Emil Karl Resch (1860-1930), brewers, were the sons of Johann Nicolaus Resch, ironmaster, and his wife Julia Bernhardine Louise Wilhelmine, née Heitmann, both of Saxony. Edmund was born on 9 June 1847 at Hörde, Westphalia, and arrived in Australia in 1863. In 1871, after mining in Victoria, he moved to New South Wales where he and his mate were the first to strike copper at the Cobar South mine. After prospecting for a year between Cobar, Louth, Bourke and Gilgandra he went to Charters Towers, Queensland, where he built, then operated a hotel for four years. He sold out because of ill health and about 1877 bought with a younger brother Richard Frederick Edward Nicolas (1851-1912) a cordial and aerated water factory at Wilcannia, New South Wales. Next year he visited Germany, where at Munich, on 17 October 1878, he married Carolina Rach (1855-1927).

Business flourished, for Wilcannia was a busy river port and centre of a vast pastoral district. In September 1879 Edmund and Richard opened the Lion Brewery and in 1883 purchased a brewery at Cootamundra, renaming it the Lion Brewery; by 1885 they had branches at Silverton, west of Broken Hill, and Tibooburra on the Mount Browne goldfield. On 11 August 1885, however, the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent, Richard carrying on at Cootamundra and Tibooburra and Edmund at Wilcannia, where he built up an enviable reputation as a skilful brewer.

In 1892 Edmund Resch installed a manager and retired to live in Melbourne. In 1895, however, he moved to Sydney to manage Allt’s Brewing & Wine and Spirit Co. Ltd for a banker who had assisted him in his early business career. In 1897 he purchased the brewery for about £67,000 and in 1900 also acquired the business and plant of the New South Wales Lager Bier Brewing Co. Ltd. Assisted by John Herbert Alvarez (d.1913), his able accountant and manager, and his sons Edmund (1879-1963) and Arnold Gottfried (1881-1942), who had both studied modern brewing methods in Europe and the United States of America, Resch embarked on a large building programme, centralizing his combined interests in Dowling Street, Redfern. In July 1906 Resch’s Ltd was incorporated with an authorized capital of £150,000.

Resch’s second business career was even more successful than his first. In 1901 he told a Legislative Assembly select committee on tied houses, where he was reprimanded by the chairman Richard Meagher for answering ‘in an acrimonious way’, that he was the only brewer in New South Wales who did not use ‘salicylic acid and other antiseptics’ in his beer, and, not surprisingly, that he was against tied houses. He successfully advertised in 1904-14 as ‘brewer by appointment to His Excellency the Governor-General’: his ales, beers and stout captured much of the State’s market. From 1903 to October 1913 he was consul in Sydney for the Netherlands government and on his retirement he was appointed knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau. Wealthy, but uncultivated, he lived in great style at Swifts, a Gothic mansion on Darling Point built by (Sir) Robert Lucas-Tooth; sailing on Sydney Harbour was his chief recreation. During World War I Resch contributed generously to the war effort and made up the difference in pay for about sixty employees who had enlisted, but in November 1917, following an indiscretion, he was arrested and interned in Holsworthy camp.
Edmund Resch died at Swifts on 22 May 1923, survived by his wife and sons, and was buried in the Anglican section of Waverley cemetery. Probate of his estate was sworn at £316,828. In 1929 Resch’s Waverley Brewery was taken over by Tooth & Co. Ltd in exchange for shares issued to the Resch family.

During World War I, like many Germans living in Australia, Edmund was imprisoned for the duration of the world because people believed his German heritage would make him a traitor to the allied war effort.

Despite, or perhaps because of his German roots, Edmund contributed generously to Australia’s war effort after the outbreak of WWI, as well as paying his sixty-odd enlisted employees the difference between their service and civilian wages. Nonetheless, he was not immune to the 1916 War Precautions (Alien Restriction) Regulations that required all non-British subjects aged fifteen and over to register their whereabouts. In November 1917, he was arrested and interred at Holdsworthy, near Liverpool, home of Australia’s largest war internment camp, despite having been a resident of Australia for more than fifty years.

Edmund during his interrment.

This story about the brothers is from a breweriana collector in Australia:

Edmund Resch arrived in Australia from Germany in 1863, probably with his younger brother Richard, and after spending time on Victorian and New South Wales mine fields and as an hotelier in Queensland, he and Richard bought a cordial and aerated water factory in bustling Wilcannia in 1877. Business flourished and in 1879 the pair opened the Lion Brewery in the township.

Four years later, the brothers expanded their activities by taking over Cootamundra’s Burton Brewery. Originally established by Mary Jane Rochester, Henry Morton and Frederick Henry Jackson in 1881, the new owners renamed it the Lion Brewery in line with their earlier establishment and in December 1883 advertised that “…for cleanliness, condition, fullness of the palate, great keeping qualities and mellow vinous flavour, our ales cannot be surpassed.”

In 1882, a third brother Emil arrived in Australia after serving a brewing and malting apprenticeship in Germany and following a short stint in Melbourne, moved to Wilcannia to join his siblings. By 1885, their expanding business empire also boasted branches at Silverton and Tibooburra, but in August that year, the partnership was amicably dissolved, with the various holdings split up between the brothers.

Richard continued the Cootamundra and Tibooburra businesses, and after trying unsuccessfully in 1888 to sell the former brewery, carried on until 1903, when he relocated to the Clarence River Brewery at Maclean. Operations ceased around 1915.

Edmund carried on at Wilcannia until 1892 when, after installing a manager to oversee operations, he moved to Melbourne intending to retire. This was short lived, however, and three years later he relocated to Sydney to take over management of Allt’s, a brewing, wine and spirit company, on behalf of a banker who had supported him in his early business activities.

After purchasing Allt’s Brewery in 1897 for more than £65,000, Edmund went on to acquire the New South Wales Lager Bier Brewing Company Ltd’s Waverley Brewery business and plant in Redfern three years later. Together with his sons Edmund and Arnold and his accountant/manager John Alvarez, he embarked on major construction works to centralise activities on the Dowling Street, Redfern site. Directories show that he also continued to operate his Wilcannia business until at least 1909.

Promoting himself between 1904 and 1914 as “brewer by appointment to His Excellency the Governor-General”, Edmund became so successful that his brewery’s output secured much of the State’s market. In 1906, Resch’s Ltd was incorporated with a capital of £150,000.

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