All in the Chemistry

January 14, 2020

Walter Fisher knows beer. From the more  than four decades he studied beer, brewed beer, tested beer, and perhaps most importantly, discovered ways to improve the taste of beer.


Walter was born 1924 in Brisbane. He was a smart kid who was fortunate to have a dad who was a teacher. His education progressed quickly, and he commenced an applied chemistry degree at the University of Queensland in 1941.

It was a dark time in history. World War II was escalating, and Australians were called upon to a degree never seen before. Walter applied to join the army, keen to do his part for the nation, but he was asked to keep studying, so he could help in the munitions factory.

Walter continued his studies. The university was short of lecturers, so he spent much of his time with the engineering faculty, paving the way for a future in chemical engineering. But when Walter completed his degree at age 19, the war was nearly over, and the munitions factory was winding up.

Fortunately, Walter had benefited from work experience during his degree, having spent several months working for a soft drink ingredient supplier. Citric acid imports from Sicily had stalled during the war, so the company started producing lactic acid by fermenting whey sourced from the local cheese factory.

This inspired Walter to look for alternate ways to make citric acid and his thesis investigated its manufacture using deep fermentation of the fungus Aspergillus niger. This proved to be the perfect grounding for a career that would span 41 years.

On completion of his studies, Walter was recommended to a CUB brewery in Cairns. He took to the role with passion and became well regarded as a trouble shooter.

During this time, he met and married his beloved wife Nessie, and was fortunate to be blessed with three wonderful children. Supported by a loving family, he developed his reputation as a talented brewer and quickly worked his way up to head brewmaster, before moving to Brisbane to oversee a number of breweries across Queensland.

In 1966 the Fisher family moved to Abbotsford to be closer to CUB headquarters.
He was a key player in developing the site, which became the largest brewery in the Southern Hemisphere. He is particularly proud of his involvement in conceptualising and building CUB’s iconic 30-metre high stainless steel fermentation tanks, a multimillion dollar investment and world first.

It was around this time that Walter developed a system to take Australian beer to the world. It was a challenging task to make sure each batch came out exactly the same — particularly when the ingredients, machinery and people could behave in unpredictable ways. Walter spent the years following travelling the world testing and enhancing his ale but he was most happy when his feet landed back on Australian soil.

Walter retired in 1985 to spend more time at home. Sadly, his wife passed away in 1997. He moved into an independent living unit at Mayflower Brighton five years ago and has built strong friendships in the community. He is well supported by his family with assistance from Mayflower’s home care team and his physiotherapist who help keep him active, which he believes is critical to enjoying a long life.