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26 May 2009

Cascade Brewery

NICOLE SMITH: (Senior Guide, Cascade Brewery) This building actually started off as a sawmill and Peter Degraves in his foresight saw that it needed to be reverted into a brewery. So he saw the need for some good alcohol, so he got out of jail after 5 years of being put in there for debts incurred back in England and when he got out of jail he got granted 20 convict men and they actually set about building the saw mill and reverting it into a brewery. From 1824, I guess, as I have already mentioned, the brewery was a saw mill, turned into a brewery, from 1832 the first beer was available to the public - the Pale Ale that we still have running today. Ever since then it's just gone from strength to strength.

1967 was a bit, pretty bad year for us, we had bush fires come through. Not only just for the brewery, but for the whole of Hobart, whole of Southern Tasmania. So a lot of the brewery got destroyed in that. Fortunately they were able to rebuild it just within 3 months and one day. They were very quick on that. And they finally got it back and running and we have just been going from strength to strength ever since. So a hundred and seventy years of brewing heritage, it's done pretty well for itself. Peter not only ... bit of an entrepreneur - he, of course, built the brewery, he had his sawmills, he also had a boat building business down at the wharves - down in Hobart.

He also put in plans to build at what is now known as the Theatre Royal, which is a sensational little theatre down in Campbell St. That was something that he, I guess, virtually did for the community. He also decided that Hobart needed some flushing water I guess some flowing water and he decided that he was gonna divert water from Mt Wellington. He actually got into a fight with one of the officials I guess and yeah, decided he was gonna cut the whole supply of the water off because it ran right past his brewery. So he had full control of all the fresh water into Hobart! So, yeah, he was a very interesting man. Very interesting.

We produce nine beers and five ciders here now. The ciders are produced in the beverage company opposite the brewery. The beers that we produce are ranging from your dark, luscious stouts to your nice bright bubbly blonde beer that we have which is really good, a really good summer beer. So we have a nice little variety and a nice range. We also produce one every year, a special beer called "First Harvest", that's produced with your fresh hops of the year. So we try to cater for everybody.

Oh, and the fact that we actually produce our own malt here is very different from other breweries. We're the only ones in Australia that actually produce it on-site. So it gives us a lot more play with our flavours and we are also able to have the quality control like right from the very start and also that link with the farmers as well. So we're getting it straight off the farmers and straight into a brewery and using it. So yeah, it's as fresh as you can get.

So we have gotten Boags territory up North. The Boags Brewery, of course, in Launceston. And then there's Cascade territory down South. It's only really started, I guess, in the last sort of fifty odd years - it's really starting to get quite North/South rivalry happening. But, yeah, it makes a bit of fun and it's really good for the island. We're such a small little island, yet we have two major breweries. So we've done really well just in Tasmania itself. But, yeah, there is definitely a North/South divide and if you're up North, don't drink Cascade and if you're down South, definitely don't drink Boags! For sure!

I guess it's not only the actual taste of the produce and the quality that it is, it's the fact that it's such, it's an iconic, it's ingrained into Tasmania's history and that's where Hobart's been born from - it's been born out of Cascade Brewery and it's still going after a hundred and seventy odd years. So I think it's a bit of a legacy left to us by Peter Degraves. During the Great Depression when not a lot of people had work down in Hobart the unemployed were actually invited up to the brewery so they could have a free beer each night. The reason being beer was known to be good for your health - a beer a day would keep the doctor away apparently - of course in moderation. So the rules were you were only allowed to have one glass of beer and you had to bring your own mug with you. Now of course if you are only allowed to have one glass of beer and you have to bring your own mug - you're gonna to make it a big one! Now they actually brought up rather large peach cans that they got down at the wharf from the fruit-tin factory. They welded a handle onto the side of it, brought that and called that their mug. So they ended up getting about a litre of free beer each night!

This is the memorial stone to a man named John Syme. He, he was actually a great man. He took over the brewery after Degraves' son died and he loved it that much, he was such a sensational man, did so much for the brewery that he wanted to be buried here. Now of course you can't just bury people anywhere you want to, so they did bury him down in Hobart town and then a couple of years later decided that his gravestone would be best suited up here. So they then brought his gravestone up to the brewery and placed it out the front.

I think it's fantastic working at Australia's oldest brewery. It's brilliant. I mean, the whole culture of Hobart is based on Cascade. We grew up on the stuff. So iconic Tasmanian produce and it's just a fantastic place to work. It's beautiful, it's gorgeous and, yeah, we have a lot of fun.