Our Story

The Billson’s Story Thus Far… A man, a dream & a natural spring.

George Billson Snr, born in England in 1817, was a man with big dreams. He travelled extensively in his younger years to California, South America, New Zealand and the Australian goldfields before firmly settling in Australia in 1852. Attracted by the Victorian gold rush, George moved first to Bendigo then to Wooragee on the outskirts of Beechworth in 1856. Falling in love with the area, and a local woman, George built a reputable business to support his young family. Thriving as a publican in Wooragee, George begun to dream of his own brewery and eventually founded his empire in 1865 by purchasing the Ovens Brewery at 4 Last Street in Beechworth, renaming it Billson’s Brewery. Following rapidly success, George expanded his operations to 29 Last Street when he stumbled upon a pure spring that supplied the finest water imaginable.
A large tower brewery was erected circa 1872, co-managed with his eldest son George Henry (and later whith his younger son Alfred Arthur), which continued the production of his award-winning beers as well as traditional cordials & aerated waters. George and his sons only sourced the finest of ingredients for their beverages and strived for greatness in everything they did. In fact, the brewery’s Anglo Australian Ale was renowned to be the best ale around, using only pure malt and the phrase “I’ll take a glass of Anglo” was soon heard in every bar from the Murray to the Goulburn River. George Snr passed away in 1886, but his legacy & stunning building remain. Today, Nathan and Felicity have taken custodianship of this important heritage icon. They wish to fulfil George's original vision by creating the best beverages in the world. Follow their story as they attempt to revive Billson’s Brewery.


George Billson Snr settles in Woorage, on the outskirts of Beechworth


George Billson Snr starts his brewery empire at 4 Last Street Beechworth.


George Billson and his eldest son George Henry move their brewing operations to 29 Last Street and build a Tower Brewery, one of the last remaining examples worldwide. The site not only produced award-winning beers, but also a range of traditional cordials and aerated waters.


Billson’s Prize Ale is proudly exhibited at the Melbourne Exhibition and is awarded with a prestigious a silver medal. A new label is created to celebrate this occasion.


George Henry Billson leaves the partnership he had with his father to pursue his own brewery and malting venture in Albury, NSW.


Alfred Arthur Billson joins the family business.


Billson’s launches a robust stout, styled like a London or Dublin porter. This brew was so popular it was crafted well into the mid 1950’s.


A cordial factory and depot is built in Tallangatta, VIC.


George Billson Snr passes away.


Billson’s Brewery is renamed A. A. Billson.


Always the purist, Alfred Arthur recipe for the Anglo Australian Ale used pure malt and soon the expression “I’ll take a glass of Anglo” was soon heard in every bar from the Murray to the Goulburn River.


A.A. Billson trades as A. A. Billson’s Anglo-Australian Brewery Company.


Billson’s Mild Table is released as a response to the increasing Temperance Movement, which discourages excessive drinking.


Alfred Arthur Billson pursues a burgeoning political career in the Legislative Assembly and leaves the day to day management of the brewery to a board of management. He remains the chairman.


A. A. Billson’s Anglo-Australian Brewery Company merges with George Henry Billson’s Albury Brewing and Malting Company to become the Border United Co-operative Breweries Ltd.


Border United Co-operative Breweries Ltd is liquidated and its operations transferred to the newly registered Murray Breweries Pty Ltd. The board of directors included preeminent Beechworth businessman Albert Michael Zwar of the Beechworth Tannery. At the same time, Zwar also created the Melbourne-base soft-drink company Ecks Pty Ltd.


Murray Breweries Pty Ltd stops its beer brewing activities but continue to produce the herbal beer Ecks until the 1980’s. Murray breweries never stops making small batch traditional cordials.


Nathan and Felicity Cowan purchase Murray Breweries and re-launch the business with its original name, Billson’s Brewery.


Billson's Brewery releases its first beer after an almost 70 bar hiatus.


Billson's site restored to include cafe, barber & speakeasy.




Mixed Spirits



Spring Water

Tonic Water