The Clare Brewery emerged from the merger of two breweries located in Clare township. The first brewery, built by Andrew Birrell on Union Street, was managed by his son Robert for a brief period before being leased by Robert Ingham. In 1854, the brewery was put up for sale and purchased by the town's founder, Edward Gleeson. Gleeson, known locally as the "King of Clare," was an avid horse racing enthusiast and appointed his son-in-law, Jonathan Filgate, as manager of the brewery. The company's logo, featuring a racehorse and jockey, was inspired by their shared passion for horse racing.
The Main Street brewery was established by William Kerr in 1858, who had previously started a brewery one mile from Clare named the Emu Flat Brewery. However, Kerr fell ill and died in 1859, and the brewery was subsequently purchased by Charles Fenton, who went bankrupt in 1860. The brewery was then sold to the Burra Brewery owners, Ware & Chapman, in 1860 and remained operational until they sold their country assets and moved to Adelaide in 1864.
Upon the availability of the Main Street brewery, Gleeson purchased the site and moved brewing operations from the Union Street brewery, which was subsequently used as a malt house. Jonathan Filgate continued as brewery manager until his untimely death from Typhoid Fever in 1866. His widow, Fanny Filgate, who was also Gleeson's daughter, took over as manager and successfully led the business to expand, with Clare ales becoming renowned in the northern townships. She eventually took on two business partners, Thomas Sabine and William Richardson, and built a new brewery on the northern side of Clare utilizing modern technologies such as gravity-assisted brewing and a steam engine. The Auburn brewery was also purchased and both breweries operated in tandem to meet demand. However, Sabine and Richardson left the business in 1880 and Fanny again managed the brewery alone.
In 1881, John Christison joined the brewery and became involved in the Clare community, eventually serving as Mayor in 1884. However, with the introduction of train service to the northern towns, the brewery faced increased competition from larger Adelaide breweries. This led to the sale of the Auburn brewery in 1888 and a failed merger attempt with the Melrose and Unicorn breweries in 1898 under the name Jacka Bros Ltd. Fanny retired from the brewery in 1905 and John managed the brewery until his death in 1911. The brewery was then purchased by Wine and Spirit merchants A.E. Tolley, renamed the Clare Co-Operative Brewing Company Ltd, and underwent improvements to increase output. However, the company faced challenges with the forced closure of hotels at 6:00pm in the mid-1910s. The Co-Operative was sold in 1917 and brewing operations ceased, with the site subsequently used as an aerated water factory and later a winery. In 2005, Lion Nathan, the owners of the South Australian Brewing Company, set up a microbrewery at the site, launching Knappstein Lager in 2006, which is sold alongside Knappstein wines.
Union Street Brewery
Clare Brewery c1900
B60979 State Library SA
|c1917 (Keg Label)|
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