Regulation of beer and brewing in South Australia – Fact sheet 98

Walkerville Co-operative Brewing Coy Ltd, 1901, application number 3400
Walkerville Co-operative Brewing Coy Ltd, 1901, application number 3400 (NAA: AP476/5, class 43)

In his foreword to HM Ward's Some Brief Records of Brewing in South Australia (Pioneers Association of South Australia, Series 1950/51, no. 5, 1950) George Morphett wrote that the author’s research was ‘…hampered by the fact that brewers were not required to take out a licence to brew until the Commonwealth Act [No. 7 of 1901, The Beer Excise Act] came into force on 1st January 1902. It is therefore impossible to obtain full particulars of the many early breweries that existed in this state…’

Despite Morphett's assertion some original colonial records are extant. Those held by the National Archives Adelaide Office are described in the table overleaf. Relevant colonial period records are also held by State Records of South Australia. The publication JL Hoad, Hotels and Publicans in South Australia, 1836–1984 (Australian Hotels Association, SA Branch, Gould Books, Adelaide, 1986) is also a useful source.

Excise control of the beer industry since 1901

From 1901 the regulation and control of the beer industry in South Australia became the responsibility of the Commonwealth through the Collector of Customs for South Australia. During the years of World War II, further regulation of beer prices was administered by the State Prices Commissioner for South Australia.

A significant collection of records about the regulation of the industry in South Australia has been identified among the records of these agencies held by the Archives in Adelaide. A selection of the types of records held is listed in the table below.

Regulation of beer and brewing in colonial South Australia

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesRegister of letters despatched and received (distilleries)1888–1905D5098
SeriesDeclarations under the Beer Duty Act 18941894–95AP52/2
SeriesAudited Customs correspondence1889–1900D4868
ItemComposition of Colonial beer – section 42 Beer Only Act1900D4868, 1900/881


Customs correspondence records

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemBeer stamps to be uniform from 1 January 19021901D596, 1901/1434
ItemSale of beer duty stamps by Postmasters1902D596, 1902/648
ItemParticulars of beer transferred interstate1902D596, 1902/1697
ItemMixed duty on colonial beer mixed with imported1902D596, 1902/5286
ItemCheck on material used in brewing beer1903–06D596, 1906/1427
SeriesCommerce Act beer and stout described as malt abstract1907D596, 1907/3950
ItemBrewing of beer for manufacture of vinegar1912D596, 1912/4122
ItemDuty on beer consumed by employees1915–25D596, 1922/2804
ItemBottling beer for the purpose of sale – JJ McCormack, Port Pirie, 19281928AP378/2, P3223
ItemBeer excise inspection of hotels in country towns1931AP378/2, P4040
ItemIllicit manufacture of beer by PR Wilson1931–32D596, 1931/6469
ItemIllicit manufacture of beer1932–71D737, 1970/10232
ItemLabels on beer bottled by AM Foulds Broken Hill1934AP378/2, P4688
ItemBeer unfit for human consumption1934–45D596, 1945/1059
ItemTrading results Tattersalls Hotel1938–47AP5/1, 1944/3562
ItemTrading results R Montgomery & Co – importers of brewers supplies1939–47AP5/1, 1944/282
ItemIncrease of Excise & Customs duties on beer and spirits1939D1975, Z1939/34
ItemCrown Solicitor opinion – prohibition of work on Sundays applicable to beer delivery1941D596, 1941/2319
ItemQuota of beer for munitions workers1943D1975, Z1943/1603
ItemBlack marketing in beer – SS Barwon1946AP5/1, 1946/4037
ItemBottling of bulk beer for hotels1949–50D737, S1966/10575
ItemProposed repeal – section 10 of the Beer Excise Act1957–66D737, S1966/6718


Miscellaneous records relating to the beer industry

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019