In 1871 a company was formed by Michael Quinlan and N Donnelly, which was named Quinlan, Donnelly and Co., trading as general business and shipping agents. Following illness, Mr Donnelly sold out to Mr Quinlan, who died two years later. His widow took into the business Mr George Wilkie Gray as partner. Previous to his death, Mr Quinlan had concluded an arrangement with the Fitzgerald Bros. of Castlemaine, Victoria, to establish a brewery at Milton on the site where the brewery now stands.
In 1878 the Brisbane Courier reported on:
…a delicious ale of the brightest amber, pleasant to taste, with a peculiarity of flavour not easily described and an aroma of an appetising nature by itself
Fitzgerald, Quinlan & Co became a limited liability company in 1887, and was known as Castlemaine Brewery and Quinlan Gray and Co. Brisbane Ltd.
Steady growth characterised the years until the period of the Great War in 1914 and business was faced with much uncertainty and disruption, until the directors changed the brew, obtaining the best brewing talent available. The result was XXXX.
After the war, capital increased from £78,669 to £1,041,666 (more than 13 times). The reserves increased from £18,335 to £185,000 (more than 10 times).
Negotiations were completed with Perkins and Company in 1928 for the purchase of that firm’s Toowoomba maltings and brewery and certain sections of Perkins’ Brisbane plant. Following the merger, the name of the purchasing company was changed to Castlemaine Perkins Ltd. It became the largest brewery in Queensland.
In the 1950s the XXXX sign was constructed and installed on top of the tower, and in 1988 the seven-metre high Mr Fourex neon was installed on the side of the brewery. The little bloke is said to have first appeared as a caricature in an ad in October 1924 but without his customary boater which allegedly appeared a month later.
Speculation is rife about who Mr Fourex is modelled on. Some say it’s Paddy Fitzgerald who oversaw great growth at XXXX. While his true origin remains a mystery, Mr Fourex has remained a well-loved and central figure at XXXX for over 85 years.
Castlemaine Perkins was acquired in 1990 by New Zealand drinks conglomerate Lion Nathan.