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3 January 1877 Jacka's Brewery, Melrose

 3 January 1877   Jacka's Brewery, Melrose

On 3 January 1877 Joseph Jacka brewed the first beer at the family's brewery in Melrose. A few months earlier, in August 1876, brothers Joseph and William Jacka leased some land from Joseph's father-in-law Josiah Slee. Their father, William, had the licence of the North Star Hotel and while he conducted his business, Joseph began to establish the brewery. The brothers had been brewers in Auburn and moved to Melrose in 1876 where there was an almost permanent supply of good water, from the Mount Remarkable Creek, essential for brewing.

In 1887 William sold his interest to his brother and moved to Burra to start a brewery there. Joseph carried on and was very successful. By 1893 he needed to extend his premises and purchased a flour mill nearby which he converted to the requirements of a brewery. By the turn of the century beer was being distributed to the northern areas. Specially constructed wagons to carry heavy loads of wooden casks, drawn by teams of eight horses, wound through the gorges of the Flinders Ranges to Port Pirie and Port Augusta. With the extension of the railway to Broken Hill beer was sent there. 

At the height of his success Joseph died, in June 1901. His son William J.S. Jacka, at the young age of 21 years, took over the brewing and his uncle, William, returned from Burra to join him. After World War I business began to decline for a number of reasons and the depression of the 1930s was the final blow. The brewery closed down in 1934.

Max Slee, The History of the Slee Family , pp. 74-77.


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