Brewing began in the earliest days of the colony. In a letter to Governor Grey of 14 October 1841 Captain Sturt wrote: “Warren first erected the brewery on the parklands by permission of Captain Hindmarsh, to whom encouragement was given that he should hold it for seven to 10 years on consideration of supplying the inhabitants with good beer and yeast at a moderate price ... when Governor Gawler directed that the parklands should be cleared of the wretched huts that were on them he excepted the brewery.”
In 1846 the property on which this brewery was situated was owned by Mr King and occupied by James Walsh, later a large shareholder in the Kadina and Wallaroo Railway Company. The brewery was described as a “brick building, brewery and malting house with large sunk beer cellars and store with wood cottage”.
By 1852 the brewery had been taken over by Simms and Humble, the property now being owned by Walsh. Simms began his brewing career here in 1851, having arrived in South Australia in 1845. He also consolidated the West End Brewery in Hindley Street, which he sold in 1888 to the newly formed South Australian Brewing Co. Ltd. W.K. Simms was also connected with the Waverley breweries of West Terrace and Mitcham, and the Halifax Street Brewery (now the site of the former City Destructor) as well as the West End Brewery.
W.H. Clark, who built the West End Brewery, also occupied this brewery briefly in 1858. In that year the South Australian Register of November 5 carried the following advertisement: “Brewery Pirie Street, Adelaide, to be let with right of purchase. The Pirie Street Brewery James Walsh.”
E.J.F. Crawford of the Hindmarsh and Halifax Street breweries occupied the buildings in 1860-61. In 1864 Syme and Sison began business in the Pirie Street premises, then known as the Adelaide Brewery. J.T. Syme of Scotland had arrived in South Australia in 1857 and was first engaged as brewer to John Primrose of the Union Brewery until 1863, when the partnership was formed with F.S. Sison, and the Adelaide Brewery began.
The facilities for brewing were revived extensively for Syme and Sison in the 1870s and the business successfully supplied a number of city hotels. The Queen’s Arms in Wright Street, the Somerset at the corner of Pulteney and Flinders Street, and the White Conduit House Hotel in North Street are among surviving hotels in Adelaide that were associated with Syme and Sison brewers.
The present buildings appear to date from the 1870s, when the brewery was virtually rebuilt. In 1871 new stables and offices were built by Thomas Martin at a cost of £300 to Daniel Garlick’s design. In 1872 Charles Farr built a malthouse and cellar to a design by Garlick, and in 1876, again to Garlick’s design, a cellarage, stores, malting floor, malt kiln and bottling rooms were built by Brown and Thompson.
Syme and Sison carried on the business until their retirement in 1882, when McIntyre and Wicksteed (later Anthony and Wicksteed) took possession. After the retirement of Wicksteed in 1900, Anthony sold his interest in 1902 to the South Australian Brewing Co. Ltd. The brewery finally closed at this time. It has since been used as office's for various companies.