Napier Brewery

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Napier Brewery
Picture needed
Town Ballarat
Street Main Road
Known dates 1865-1876
Other names Charlie Napier Hotel
Charlie Napier Brewery

The Napier Brewery was a brewery in Ballarat, Victoria, <1865-1876>.

Site[edit | edit source]

The brewery was in Main Road, Ballarat, on the site of the old Charlie Napier Hotel, and was sometimes called the Charlie Napier Brewery. It was at the back of and underneath the former Adelphi theatre.[1] The brewery was operated by Edwin Scrase. He began the brewery after ending his partnership with Edward Ainley which had run the old Specimen Hill Brewery as Scrase and Ainley.

History[edit | edit source]

In November 1870, the Ballarat Star reported on the Napier, in an article on the breweries of Ballarat:

Everyone nearly knows that that the Napier Brewery is in the Main road, standing very nearly on the site of the “Old Charlie,” a fine brick building, helping to give a respectable tone to a not too respectable-neighborhood. A large portion of this building, is kept as a theatre, and the brewery occupies the back and underground part. The cellar, is 100 feet long, and 54 feet broad, and will hold 400 hogsheads of beer. The floor is gravelled, and tolerably dry; although the flood disarranged and damaged the drainpipes that are placed all round the cellar. The hogs heads are arranged all round at a height of about two feet from, the ground, and under them are placed troughs which can be removed when full of the yeast which escapes from the bung-holes of the hogs heads while the beer is “working.” And the beer does work sometimes so vigorously that a novice who saw the white stream of froth running out of the barrels would imagine that by the time the beer had finished its labor little would be left in the cask. The visit to the cellar was a sort of preliminary, canter before starting on the tour of inspection, and after it was concluded the malt mill was reached. Crushing the malt is the first thing to be done when beer is to be brewed. Some brewers “malt” their own barley. Mr Scrase does not. The malt mill is worked by steam-power, and the arrangements are so good that a great deal of labor is saved. One man in attendance can start the mill or stop it with a lever close to his hand. The mill having been started by this lever, the operator empties a bag of malt into a, small hopper on the floor. This hopper then rises up and turns the malt into a large sieve over the mill hopper, the malt, is sifted, passes to the mill hopper, is ground or crushed, and is then taken, by means of an elevator, to the top of the building, when it falls into another hopper, over the mash tun. This machine, with all its many workings, is all managed by one man; who has only to empty the malt into the first hopper, the machinery doing all the rest. This is on the floor above the cellar. From the same room is a large door opening into the back yard, and on to a stage from which the drays are loaded with the casks of ale. A trap opens into the cellar, and by means of a very ingenious machine, one man can lift a hogshead weighing 5½ cwt from the cellar beneath, and land it on the floor ready for the drays. The bags of sugar used in the brewing are also kept in this room, and they are hoisted to the top of the building where the copper is, by one man below, with the aid of ropes and blocks. We now follow the crushed malt to the top of the building. The hopper into which the crushed malt goes, over the mash tun, holds 100 bushels. The whole of the “brewing ” is done by one lad, who has on brewing days to be in attendance at four o’clock in the morning. This first part of the process is “mashing.” The hot water from the boiler, and the crushed malt from the hopper, pass into the “mash tun” through the same pipe, and so get well mixed; the quantity of malt being regulated by a slide at the bottom of the hopper; 120 bushels can be mashed at one time. In most breweries the mash tun has a false bottom, perforated in order to let the liquor run completely off. Mr Scrase has a lot of pieces of perforated angle iron which are placed in the tun, radiating towards the centre, before the mashing is commenced, so that in place of a false bottom and the inconvenience of cleaning and removing it, those pieces of angle iron form a sort of underground drainage system, and allow all the liquor to run off. “The hot liquor back” is the name of the copper in which the water is heated for mashing. It holds about 35 hogsheads. The water rises here to fill it with the ordinary pressure through a 2-inch pipe, and is heated by a steam jet. As soon as the malt is mashed, the lid of the mash tun is lowered with a block and tackle, and the mash is covered-up. After the liquor from the mash tuns has been allowed to run into the “wort boilers” what is left behind, known as “grains,” is passed by means of a shoot to the drays in the yard below. The wort boilers hold over 30 hogsheads each, and when the liquor has passed into, them by means of pipes from the mash tun, the sugar and hops are added. From the wort boilers the liquor passes through a pipe to a patent refrigerator, 16 feet by 6 feet, one of the largest in the colony, and after passing over the refrigerator the liquor, which by this time is quite cold, runs into the fermenting tuns, which holds 80 hhds. each. While the beer, or “liquor,” as the brewers call it in this stage is fermenting, the vapor from the fermenting tun is very strong, and so overpowering, that visitors to breweries often find at the end of their visit that they are not steady on their legs. After the fermenting is over the beer passes to the cleansing casks in the cellar by means of a hose, and down here it settles down to steady work for a day. or two. After it is thoroughly cleared it is ready for sale. At this brewery the casks used are made on the premises of well seasoned stringy bark. The staves are bent by steam. The engine in the brewery is an 8-horse power, one, with a boiler of corresponding size. The casks are:cleaned by being placed over a steam jet-on the ground.[1]

In 1889 William Withers was writing about the Adelphi Theatre and some of the characters who had performed there. The theatre, which had cost over £6000 to build was never successful, and Edwin Scrase acquired the empty theatre to use as a brewery:

Then Hardy sold the whole premises to Edwin Scrase, a brewer, and soon after Mitchell bought the Royal, Scrase had an auction of the Adelphi effects, and all the scenery was sold for £5 to Gregory, a gymnast, at that time performing at the Royal. Scrase filled all the place with beer barrels and made much beer, but he, too, failed, and he sold to John Fussell for £300 the once bright New Adelphi, that had cost some £6000 or £8000. Fussell, as unromantic as Scrase and more successful, turned the premises into money, sold the buildings piece meal, and in 1880 the place was pulled down.[2]

In 1876 the brewery horse bolted going into Buninyong:

As the Napier Brewery dray was coming down Buninyong Hill, from Ballarat, with a few casks of beer, the horse bolted, and for nearly a mile kept up a terrific pace, and was partially pulled up on passing the Princess Royal hotel. How the driver (Mr Cassidy) managed to “ keep his own,” was surprising to every one who had witnessed the race. Cassidy remarked that he had as great a shaking as ever he had. He was standing behind the casks driving, and, if he had not had strong saddlery to deal with he must have come to grief.[3]

Part of the failure of the brewery was the regular floods in Main Road:

Inspite of " the numerous orders,” Scrase’s change of place for his brewery was not lucky’. He was flooded out in one of the Eastern deluges, business fell off, and he had to throw the venture up.[4]

The People[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1870 'THE BALLARAT BREWERIES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 7 November, p. 4. , viewed 27 Mar 2018,
  2. 1889 'BALLARAT CHRONICLES AND PICTURES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 21 December, p. 1. (Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924)), viewed 30 Aug 2018,
  3. 3.0 3.1 1876 'NEWS AND NOTES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 12 April, p. 2. , viewed 09 Apr 2018,
  4. 1888 'BALLARAT CHRONICLES AND PICTURES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 25 June, p. 4. , viewed 30 Aug 2018,

External Links[edit | edit source]