Some History

An Imperial Pint Of Grafton Brewing History: 1867-2023

The first Grafton Show was held on Tuesday 30th April 1867, and while wine making, liquor distillation, and to a lessor extent, beer brewing was common place at home, the term ‘home brewing’ (or home brew) was not commonly used as it is today.

From some of the records still remaining, both red & white wines were entered into this first show, with the vintage of these being from the current or previous year. Raw distilled spirit as well as distilled essences were also entered.

Beers were entered into the earliest show’s, and in 1904 J.G Kempnich of Maclean Brewery, secured Mr Hollingsworth’s prize of £1/1/- for best brewed beer in NSW. The proprietor received congratulations on his success.

Grafton’s first brewery was started by Robert Muir in 1861. It was a small operation, and short-lived. Muir’s Grafton Brewery was situated near the Dobie Street wharf, across the river from Patrick Fraser’s flour mill. Muir advertised in October that year that he was able to supply ales manufactured ‘solely from the best English malt and hops’. The brewery ceased operation in 1863.

A brewery was established in Maclean in 1870 . The building is now a residence, and still stands in Stanley Street.

The Grafton Brewery was completed in 1952, with beer being sold locally on the 18th December. The brewery closed in May 1997 and at different times produced both bottled & kegged beers. The building & site are still in existence today at 170 North Street, being used for industry. The beer recipes of the Grafton Brewery have been lost to history, though it is thought they may still exist mothballed in a Grafton attic somewhere…..

Sanctus Brewing Co opened their doors to the public & started selling their beers from
October 2019, having installed their brewhouse in March of that year. They are located
at 5 Re Rd. Townsend, near Maclean. Their stainless steel brewing layout is in view of
the public dining area and bar. Sanctus Brewing have 6 core beers, and 12 seasonal limited release beers. They have 10 taps at the main bar inside each pouring a different brew.

The Wobbly Chook Brewing Co is a new brewery located at 26 Coldstream St, Yamba.
The brewhouse was installed in February 2021, and they started selling beer that year
on the October long weekend. The Wobbly Chook  has 6 core beers, and 2 alternating seasonal beers. They have 8 taps on site, each with a different in house beer.

Roches Hotel started out as the Holmsten’s Family Hotel in 1869. The original two story structure is still identifiable within the current building, which has been expanded over the years. Roches Hotel is a family friendly establishment. The venue is located at 85 Victoria Street, Grafton.

The Crown Hotel at the start of Prince Street is established on the original site of the Clarence Hotel, which started in 1842, and was the third licenced public house of Grafton. It was substantially remodelled in 1930 with the present grand Entrance hall, and has remained reasonably unchanged ever since. The Crown Hotel boasts a great view over the Clarence River. The venue is located at 1 Prince Street, Grafton.

The Village Green Hotel was established in 1904, and was known as the Imperial Hotel until the late eighties. Its site was chosen as it was close to the Grafton Railway station, which was still under construction at the time. The Village Green is a is a great relaxing spot for a quiet drink or coffee. The venue is located at 230 Pound Street, Grafton.

The Australian Hotel was established in 1862, and has remained with the same name since. The current building structure was erected in 1914, the previous building being removed after receiving permission from the licencing court the year before. Enjoy a exquisite meal and relax in comfort at the Australian Hotel. The venue is located at 51 Through Street, South Grafton.

The Clocktower Hotel opened on the 4th July 2008, named after the historic clock tower close by, that was constructed in 1909.
The history of the site where the Clocktower Hotel now stands dates back to 1860 when the first hotel was built and named the Commercial Hotel until 1895. The hotel changed owners & name in 1895 to the Freemasons Hotel until 1977 when new owners changed the name to the Parkview Hotel. Fire destroyed the Parkview Hotel in June 2002 with it being demolished and the liquor license transferred to Sydney. The site stayed vacant until the current hotel was constructed – the liquor licence from the Royal Hotel (which closed in 2006) being transferred. The Clocktower Hotel is located at 93 Prince Street, Grafton.

Additional historical information is welcomed, and may be incorporated into the historical information of future programs.