Emerging giant, South Australian Brewing Co., in 1893 set to dominate beer/hotels business

Edwin Smith's Kent Town brewery (shown in the mid 1870s) merged with William Smith's West End breweries to form the South Australian Brewing, Malting & Wine & Spirit Co. The Kent Town brewery was later used as a malting house.
Image courtesy State Library of South Australia

South Australian Brewing, Malting & Wine & Spirit Co., emerging in 1888 from amalgamating Edwin Smith’s Kent Town and William Knox Simms’ West End breweries and the wine and spirit business of Rounsevell & Simms, was a major development in the brewing industry.

South Australian Brewing, Malting & Wine & Spirit Co. listed on the Stock Exchange of Adelaide. It sold the wine and spirit business to two Adelaide wine merchants, A.E. & F. Tolley and Milne & Co. in 1893 and became South Australian Brewing Co. Ltd (SABCo). The new company bought breweries in Laura and Port Augusta in 1893 and closed them in 1893 and 1898.

Walkerville Co-operative Brewing Co. Ltd, originally operating at Walkerville, purchased the Torrenside Brewery at Thebarton (established in 1886 by the Ware brothers) in 1898; the Coop was to become South Australian Brewing's main competitor. The Lion Brewery in North Adelaide was the other major competitor, but ceased brewing in 1914.

Other smaller breweries were finding it increasingly difficult to survive. Poor brewing practices, competition from larger city breweries that took advantage of the expanding railway system, the Beer Duty Act 1894 which exacted a duty of two pence per imperial gallon (2d/4.5L), and, following federation, brewer’s licences and regulations associated with the commonwealthgovernment’s Beer Excise Act 1901 resulted in more closures in the city, suburbs and country.

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