By the mid 19th century, any town of modest size in NSW had its own brewery to quench the thirst of citizens and wash the dust of the roads and paddocks from their throats. Successive colonial governors had encouraged the development of breweries to reduce the drunkenness and counteract the profiteering associated with the production of rum and other spirits. A great deal of trial and error was involved in the production of a brew.
From a peak of 100 breweries in NSW in the 1880s, the decline of country breweries was rapid, largely as a result of improved transport and stiff competition from the Sydney breweries. The stringent conditions of the Commonwealth Beer Excise Act of 1901 forced many breweries to close. In 1926 the last Orange brewery, Walkers, was purchased by Toohey’s Ltd for use as a depot. This marked the end of the local brewing industry.
By the late 1800s, the temperance movement had gained considerable momentum. Many breweries protected their businesses by also producing cordials. In addition, local cordial manufacturers such as the Great Western Sodawater, Lemonade and Cordial Manufactory, Weily’s Cordials, and from the mid-1900s, Mayfield's Cordials of Orange and Newling’s Cordial factory of Cudal were also producing cordials.