Thursday, 15 April 2021




Cold beer was invented in Australia? Of course it was….


April 17 doesn’t generally ring with recognition for most people, but it should. Particularly for those of us who enjoy a cold beverage on a hot day.

April 17 is the anniversary of the birthday of the man who invented the mechanical refrigeration process for creating ice. And this amazing feat of invention was performed in Australia, along the banks of the Barwon River in Geelong.

Born in Scotland in 1816, and emigrating to Australia in 1837, James Harrison is often called "the father of refrigeration”.

Harrison's first mechanical ice-making machine began operation in 1851 and his first commercial machine followed in 1854. What made this refrigeration system unique was the use of a compressor to force vapourised ether into a condenser for cooling, where it turned back into liquid. This liquid then made its way through the refrigeration coils and turned back into gas, which cooled down the insides of the system.

The beer industry could taste a winning idea, so in 1856 James was commissioned by a brewery to build a machine that could cool beer. His system was almost immediately taken up by beer producers and was also widely used by meatpacking factories.

Harrison’s method of refrigeration is still used by fridges today. Although the process has been refined significantly, refrigeration and air conditioning technicians are still in awe of the ingenuity of the design.

Australia likes to celebrate its heroes, so this April 17 raise a cold drink to Mr James Harrison, and all the refrigeration and air conditioning technicians out there, and thank the man that invented the fridge, right here in Australia.


For further information, please contact Alex Doran, General Manager, Communications and Business Development at the ARC on 03 9843 1601 or email


Note: Drink alcohol only in moderation.