Our Story

The Billsonís Story Thus FarÖ 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 Billsonís 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 breweryís Anglo Australian Ale was renowned to be the best ale around, using only pure malt and the phrase ďIíll take a glass of AngloĒ 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 Billsonís Brewery.

1856

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

1865

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

1872

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.

1873

Billsonís 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.

1879

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

1881

Alfred Arthur Billson joins the family business.

1882

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

1885

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

1886

George Billson Snr passes away.

1886

Billsonís Brewery is renamed A. A. Billson.

1888

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

1892

A.A. Billson trades as A. A. Billsonís Anglo-Australian Brewery Company.

1895

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

1902

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.

1911

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

1914

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.

1950ís

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

2017

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

2018

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

2019

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