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Beginning in 1864, the first brew of what is today called Carlton Draught, but was then called Carlton Ale, came from a small brewery on Bouverie Street in Carlton, Victoria. The brewery would change hands, change names, and change brewers, but it would never change the great taste of Carlton Draught that you still taste today.
What would today be known as Carlton & United Breweries began with the Carlton Brewery Company. At the time owned by a young Edward Latham, the brewing was helmed by Head Brewer Alfred Terry, a man whose integrity and ability were known throughout the colony.
Alfred Terry knew beer, and he knew how to make Australian beer. Compared to the heavy European import beers, Terry’s lighter colonial beers were far more palatable for the Australian heat, and it wasn’t long before Terry’s signature Carlton Ale was being transported by Clydesdale to hotels throughout Melbourne.
Alfred was head brewer for seventeen years before he brewed his last in 1881, and while poor Alfred Terry was gone, his great beer would live on, his legacy pushed forward by Colonel John Ballenger, who continued the tradition of brewing first-class ales.
Col. J. Ballenger knew what he was doing, to the point that during September of 1892, he created a record when he brewed eight times in twenty-four hours, producing 700 hogsheads of beer. If anyone was going to fill the shoes of Alfred Terry, it was going to be the Colonel.
Then, some years came and went. The world met a man named Sam Knott, who was quoted saying “I allus wan at eleven,” and Carlton Ale cemented itself as the beer to reward a hard day’s work.
By the turn of the century, Carlton Ale was among the most favoured in Australia, and in 1907 the Carlton brewery would join with five other Melbourne breweries to create Carlton & United breweries Pty Ltd.
By the late 1960’s, bottles were out and cans were in. They were easier to drink from, dispose of, and practically invented the idea of cracking open a cold one. But Australians still wanted that great beer taste that comes from a cold glass. So, in 1967, Carlton & United Breweries decided to do something magical.
With the same great taste that Alfred Terry first brewed over 100 years earlier, the first bottle of Carlton Draught was brought into the world like a newborn child. It was cradled, loved, set in a box with a few of its brothers, and shipped off to new homes across Australia, where people loved it as much as that first pint of Carlton Ale.
And that’s why, no matter how many times we change brewers or how many years go by, a pint, bottle, or can of Carlton Draught will always have that brewery fresh taste.