The 1952 Victorian Beer Strike

This barrel broke the drought

melbourne beer strike 1952

The first barrel of beer since the strike goes into Young and Jackson’s today at 8.20 am. A newspaper seller pushing his truck along Flinders Street cheered it in.

beer strike melbourne 1952

Half an hour earlier the first barrels were filled at the brewery in Victoria Parade.

TO the relief of publicans and drinkers a 34-day-beer strike by workers at the Carlton and United Brewery ended at 3pm on December 2 1952 – just in time for Christmas.

Hotels all over Melbourne were ready for the brewery waggons,

with cellar doors gaping and ropes ready.

More than 30 members of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association returned to work on the afternoon shift, bringing a combined sigh of relief from both publicans and drinkers during what was their their busiest – and thirstiest – time of the year.

The brewery’s switchboard was reportedly jammed with calls from publicans trying to find out when their deliveries would be made after the announcement. The Melbourne Herald reported on Wednesday December 3 1952: 

Beer normal on Monday

Draught and bottled beer will be back to normal on Monday, according to the general manager of Carlton and United Breweries, Mr R. F. G. Fogarty.

He said today that all things being well, supplies of bottled beer would also be normal for Christmas. Every hotel and club in the metropolitan area, he said, would have draught beer today. All hotels in the city, which had received beer up to lunchtime got more than half of their orders. After the 33-day “drought” some of the first people in Melbourne to drink Melbourne draught beer, pulled from a hotel tap were waterside workers. The Sir Charles Hotham Hotel, Flinders Street, turned the beer on at 9am. It went off at 10.30. The licensee said he would ration the beer at lunchtime and tonight.



Most city hotels got draught beer before mid-day, but few “turned it on” before 12. Counter lunchers came back to city hotels in force today. But in most cases the beer lasted little longer than the lunches, and hotels turned it off until 4.30pm or 5.

Several publicans said they were “not worried” about stocks of English and Scottish beer, still in their cellars.


Hotels all over Melbourne were ready for the brewery waggons, with cellar doors gaping and ropes ready. But a club had to send 36 gallons of beer back to the brewery! The Green Room Club, in Collins Street, haunt of theatricals and radio people, got two 18 gallon kegs. Normally the club’s beer comes in nine gallon kegs. The two 18s would not go through the lift door. “So,” said the secretary, Mr J. Graham, “we just had to send it back.”

Categories: Breweries, Melbourne Hotels, Victoria hotels

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