Bulimba Sparkling XXX Ale

I was researching the Queen Street Mall when I came across this photograph from 1984, looking south towards the Mall.

Looking south towards the Queen Street Mall, 1984. Bulimba Sparkling XXX ale advertisement on side of building. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 46003

I remember walking with my father who told me that Fourex (XXXX) was advertised as one X more and thus a better beer than the XXX Bulimba ale. This had always interested me and now as a librarian I decided to investigate what he said because of the above photograph.

The number of X's referred to the alcoholic strength of the beer. City Brewery produced the Perkins XXX Bitter Ale, and later produced a XXXXX beer.

John Oxley Library Blog has a 2008 post on Queensland Breweries, which mentions three Brisbane Breweries, Bulimba Brewery, the City Brewery and the West End Brewery.

Bulimba Brewery

Bulimba Brewery was located in Brisbane's inner east, on the north side of the Brisbane River, back in the days when the suburb of Bulimba spread across both sides of the river.  This area is now associated with Newstead and Teneriffe.

Harris' street and road directory. 1916-1917 - Bulimba Map No.10. Showing Bulimba covering both sides of the river.

The Bulimba brewery was started in 1882 by Robert Tooth and sold that same year to Queensland Brewery Company, with a new brewer, Henry Bolton, who would oversee production until 1888.

Owing to the growing demand for the company’s bulk ales the directors made extensions, and erected a new bottling department which was devoted to brewing their new Bulimba Gold Top bitter beer. In October 1899 the company had one aerated bottling plant going, by April 1900 they had four according to the Brisbane Courier Wednesday 4 April 1900, page 7. The article contains further information on the brewery buildings and a description of the process used to create the beer. The new building erected by the Queensland Brewing Company consisted of three floors, which was of wood and galvanised iron. The copper boiler was admirably fitted with a number of appliances, including a chimney.

The new plant was erected under the personal supervision of the managing director, Mr. Henry Bolton, M.L.A., of Victoria. The brewer was Mr. Lanfear and the official opening of this brewery occurred on Saturday 24th November 1883 in the presence of a few leading stakeholders, Mr. Bolton, Mr. William Wilson (Adelaide Milling Company), and Mr E.B.C. Corser, of Maryborough. The first taps were turned by Miss Coutts, the stepdaughter of Mr Wilson.

The Queensland Brewery Company was profitable and even with their drayman’s cottage catching on fire in 1891, three cyclones hitting Brisbane and the floods of 1893 there was little effect on Bulimba Brewery's production of goods.

Due to the above information I was able to locate a large three story building in Teneriffe, which I believe is the Bulimba Brewey. Note that I have zoomed in to the photograph to capture a better image of the building.

Enlargement of image to show the location of the Bulimba Brewery on the Brisbane River. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 199612

By 1906 Queensland Brewery had sold their Bulimba property and moved to Brunswick Street Fortitude Valley. Architect, Mr H. W. Atkinson had prepared plans for very extensive alterations and additions to the premises lately known as Cameron’s Tobacco Factory.

Bulimba Brewery - Queensland Brewery new Fortitude Valley premises in 1920. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 63232

In the early 1940s, the company built a new headquarters and wine and spirit store at 501 Ann Street in Fortitude Valley.

The three-storey building is viewed from the street and bears the name Valley Brewery in this image. The building subsequently underwent extensions, including an additional storey, after suffering fire damage in January 1908. Workers can be seen transporting loaded wagons for delivery.

Valley Brewery the new building of Bulimba Brewery in 1908. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 39346

The Brunswick Street premises were popularly known as either the Valley Brewery or the Bulimba Brewery. The brewery was later acquired by Carlton United Breweries Ltd. in 1961 and closed in Brunswick Street in 1993, after reopening in Yatala in partnership with Power Brewing Co. Ltd (Information taken from: K. Deutsher, The breweries of Australia : a history, 1999.)

Parade of military vehicles through the streets of Brisbane, July 1942. Queensland Brewery Building in the background. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 104944

In the background of this parade, which is moving down Ann Street toward the city, you can see the Queensland Brewery Building.

If you want more information about beer and Bulimba Brewery you can visit

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