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John and James Toohey are modern-day legends in this part of the world, but they didn’t know that would be the case when they headed up from Melbourne in the 1860s.
Having run pubs south of the border, they set about making their own beer in Old Sydney Town, taking over a cordial factory in Darling Harbour and getting hold of a brewing license to get the operation off the ground.
Then, one September arvo in the bustling colony, the boys sat back, knocked the froth off a ‘Tooheys Black Ale’ and admired their work: it was an instant NSW favourite, now called Tooheys Old, which we’ve come to love for each and every one of the past 150 years.
The brothers knew they were on to a winner and before long, the business outgrew the Darling Brewery. We shifted to the Standard Brewery at Surry Hills in 1875, staying put until long after John and James passed – but their legacy saw the birth of several new brews.
The Surry Hills crew had mostly pumped out ales and porters, until the new wave of brewers decided to have a crack at a lager. They put together something called ‘Tooheys New Special’ in 1931 – and we reckon you’ve tried one or two of those before, too.
Of course, the roaring success of the New drop meant another big move was on the cards. In the early 1970s, the workers packed their bags, headed up Parramatta Road and landed at the shiny new Tooheys Brewery in Lidcombe. It’s been doing the job for this great state ever since.