Englishman George Billson arrived in Australia during the Beechworth Gold Rush looking to make a fortune. However, he wasn’t too fortunate and instead ended up purchasing a pub and settling in Wooragee. It was there that George first brewed ‘Billson’s Best Ale’ which became well renowned throughout North East Victoria. After the success of the beer, George decided to pursue his passion and took up brewing full time.
George opened the doors of Billson’s Brewery in 1872, making it Australia’s second oldest tower brewery. Commonplace in London, tower breweries were never quite as popular in Australia. Which comes as a surprise, as the intelligent design gravity feeds the brewing process, saving both time and effort.
Following great success, the Billson’s agreed to expand. Building another three manufacturing plants in Tallangatta, Albury and St Kilda. They continued to make the popular beers, cordials and aerated waters until 1914, before selling the business to a local family who renamed it Murray Breweries.
Over 70 years since the last beer was made and 100 years since trading under the Billson’s name, Nathan and Felicity sold their St Kilda home, bought the brewery and begin the restoration process.
Sandblasting old paint off the building, removing over 300 pigeons from the ceiling and jackhammering up asphalt. Nathan and Felicity are proving how far they are willing to go to restore the building to its glory days and to create a venue for locals and tourists of all ages to enjoy.
Go on an adventure through time on a tour with Nathan, as he passionately tells the story of the Billson’s. Take a look in the museum at the old horse carriages. Or simply relax in the Speakeasy with your favourite Billson’s drink, while the kids try the huge array of cordials in the tasting room.
The brewery opened in 2018, with a small range of products. In the three years since the brewery was opened the team have managed to recreate a vast amount of drinks that were originally sold under the original Billson’s name.
At Billson’s, you’ll gaze at the widest range of products at a single venue in the High Country. With over 20 traditional and modern low sugar cordials, gin, tonic, vodka, and mineral water. As well as soda and more spirits on the way. Amazingly, Nathan and Felicity can keep up.
A MIX OF OLD & NEW
Without a doubt though, the beer produced at Billson’s is one of the most special aspects of the venue. Not just for their high-quality spring water and full flavour, but the source of these recipes.
The traditional recipes of the beers were found inside a cupboard in the top of the tower. Mixed with old accounting papers, written in old cursive and with outdated measurements, it took weeks to transcribe the recipes.
“Our secret is that we know, that some of the best recipes are hidden in the past”
With head brewer and distiller Tony on board, they were finally able to recreate the old recipes. Billson’s now has a wide variety of beers on offer for every type of beer drinker. Including four core range beers, a ginger beer and an apple cider. Three beers make up the heritage range, which are brewed using the same ingredients and recipe as they originally were in the mid-eighteen hundreds.
BILLSON’S BREWERY BEERS
- Pale Ale
- Golden Ale
- Chocolate Porter
- Ginger Beer
- Apple Cider
- Australian Ale
- Table Ale
- Matured Stout
- Albury Black IPA
29 Last Street, Beechworth VIC 3747
(03) 5728 1304
Sun, Mon & Thurs
12 – 5pm
Fri & Sat 12 – 8:30pm