Australian Beer History Week

Australian Beer History Week – Day Five

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According to Keith M Deutcher’s Breweries of Australia, Cascade Brewery is our oldest operating brewery, having started making beer in 1832. It was set up by Peter Degraves, who arrived in Hobart in 1824. He was quite the businessman, having started up ventures including saw-milling, flour-milling, ship-building and owning a fleet of ships, as well as brewing.

He was also a jailbird, serving five years in a Hobart jail over apparently stiffing some creditors back in Britain. He put the time in prison to a curious use – he drew up plans for a new prison and gave them to the authorities free of charge.

Once out of the nick, Degraves set up the brewery, on land he had been previously granted near the junction of two rivers where a series of waterfalls inspired the brewery’s name of Cascade. The water source was an asset for the brewery as the others in town made use of the contaminated water that ran through the town of Hobart.

The business – which included several hotels – stayed in the family until sold to a Melbourne syndicate in 1881. Later the company also picked up the Boag’s brewery and set up Tasmanian Breweries, to oversee Boag’s and Cascade. Cascade became foreign-owned when a New Zealand group bought it. In 1993 it came back to Australia when CUB formed a joint venture with the Kiwi owners to regain control. Later, after SABMiller’s takeover, it would again be foreign-owned.

But whoever owns them, one thing’s for sure. The brewers at Cascade make a bloody fine stout. It’s interesting to note that – while bee geeks diss the quality of beer from mainstream breweries, the stouts they put out always seem to be great.

Cascade’s is so great that I reckon it is easily the equal of many craft beer stouts. It boasts dark chocolate aromas and a lovely flavour of dark chocolate with a backing of coffee. And I’m sure I can taste a hint of Vegemite there as well. It might not be as strong as some other craft stouts but, jeez, it’s great to drink.

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