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Historic Beer Birthday: Nicholas Fitzgerald

Today is the birthday of Nicholas Fitzgerald (August 7, 1829-August 17, 1908). He “was an Australian politician, a member of the Victorian Legislative Council from 1864 until 1908,” and co-founded the Castlemaine Brewery, along with his brother Edward Fitzgerald.

Here’s his short biography from his Wikipedia page:

Born in Galway, Ireland to Francis Fitzgerald and Eleanor Joyes, Fitzgerald attended Trinity College, Dublin from 1845 until he entered King’s Inns in 1848 and Queen’s College, Galway in 1849. After travelling in Ceylon and India he moved to Victoria in 1859 and established a family brewery at Castlemaine with his brother Edward. The business had soon expanded and Fitzgerald owned property in New South Wales and Queensland. He was a member of the Victorian Legislative Council for North Western Province from 1864 to 1882 and for North Central Province 1882 to 1904, Southern Province June 1904. until his death on 17 August 1908. He also represented Victoria at the Federal Convention in Sydney in 1891 and the Colonial Conference of 1894 in Ottawa where he represented both Victoria and Tasmania. In 1863 he had married Marianne O’Shanassy, with whom he had seven sons. Fitzgerald died at St Kilda on 17 August 1908.

His brother Edward started the brewery, and Nicholas emigrated to Australia in 1859 and joined him in the brewery business. By 1871 the name Castlemaine Brewery had been adopted, in 1875 the brothers opened a brewery in South Melbourne, and in 1885 the enterprise was turned into a public company. Breweries were opened right across the country and the brothers were involved in the establishment of the Castlemaine Perkins brewery in Brisbane which is home of the XXXX brand and is still brewing to this day.”

And this short history is from the Castlemaine Perkins Wikipedia page:

In 1877, brothers Nicholas Fitzgerald and Edward Fitzgerald bought the site of a failing distillery and created a brewery, which they named after an existing brewery that they owned in Castlemaine, Victoria in the Victorian goldfields. They began to brew beer there in the following year and the brewery continues production to this day. The first beverage was called XXX Sparkling Ale.

In 1866, Patrick Perkins started the Perkins Brewery in Toowoomba. In 1872, he later extended his operations to Brisbane with the purchase of the City Brewery in 1872.

The company restricted its operations entirely to brewing by 1916. XXXX was introduced with new advertising campaign in 1924 after the brewery employed German brewer, Alhois William Leitner. The advertising included a depiction of a little man wearing a suit with a smile, a wink and a boater hat. The so-called ‘Fourex Man’ soon became one of the most recognised symbols in Queensland.

In 1928 (long after the death of Patrick Perkins in 1901), the Perkins brewing company was bought by the Castlemaine Brewery with new company being known as Castlemaine Perkins Limited.

Castlemaine Perkins was acquired in 1992 by drinks conglomerate Lion Nathan.

The Castlemaine or Milton Brewery was established at Milton, Brisbane, in 1878 by Fitzgerald Quinlan & Co. The brothers Nicholas and Edward Fitzgerald had established brewing interests at Castlemaine in Victoria, and then in Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Newcastle. In Brisbane, Quinlan Gray & Co. had taken over the interests of the Milton Distillery that was established on the site at Milton in 1870. The first brew by the new Milton Brewery was called Castlemaine XXX Sparkling Ale and was made to the same formula as the beer brewed by Castlemaine Brewery in Victoria. (Information taken from: Public Affairs Department, Castlemaine Perkins Limited, comp., History of the Castlemaine Perkins Brewery, 1877 – 1993, 1993).
This drawing of the brewery depicts some laden wagons in the street in front of the three-storey building. A worker stands alongside. The signage reads: Castlemaine Brewery, Fitzgerald, Quinlan & Co.

The Castlemaine Brewery at Milton, Brisbane, 1879, from the State Library of Queensland.

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