The New South Wales country town of Bucketty, on the Hunter Valley’s southern border, is soon to get its own brewery.
Co-owners Nick and Alexi McDonald submitted their Development Application for the eponymous Bucketty’s Brewery to the local Cessnock City Council two weeks ago, including plans to build a brewery and tasting room.
The northern beaches residents bought in the area six years ago in partnership with Alexi’s father, who lives in Bucketty full-time. When the adjoining property came up for sale, with its 300-metre road frontage and winery zoning, Nick said that neither he nor his wife could resist purchasing the additional block and the idea for a brewery was born.
“I’d been brewing with my old man for a number of years and I’d also thought that it’d be a great adventure to start a brewery and yeah, the property came up and we managed to buy it and since then we’ve been gradually edging our way towards making [a brewery] a reality,” he explained.
The 12-hectare property is still mostly bushland with about 10 acres cleared and useable.
Nick has engaged his friend and solar engineer to install solar panels on the brewery roof with the view to running all brewery operations entirely through solar power and battery storage. The roof will also serve as a water catchment whereby runoff will be stored in rainwater tanks with the view to exclusively use rainwater in the brewery.
The brewery design is unique in that it is completely exposed on three sides. But when the weather does get extreme, Nick has assured that staff and guests will be sheltered by a series of bi-fold doors.
“We are going to basically build it without walls, so it’s going to have this huge flat roof, which triples for solar, water and a huge overhang to keep most of the weather out,” he explained.
With several 40-degree days in Bucketty every year, Nick said that the design is aimed at generating free-flowing air so that ambient temperature can be maintained.
“My experience visiting breweries, particularly during summer, is that it gets just so stinking hot,” he said.
“You’re boiling thousands of litres of liquid, you can’t help but get pretty toasty in the venue.”
The Bucketty’s property also boasts 60 three-year-old hop bines of varying varieties including Cascade, Canterbury Golding, Mount Hood, Centennial and Chinook. So far, Cascade and Mount Hood appear to be growing best.
“Once we’re fully up-and-running we’ll probably have maybe one or two acres of hops,” Nick explained.
“So it’s not going to be massive but still enough to make it interesting.
“If it gets too much it becomes hard to farm because it’s a really manual crop to manage if you don’t have the machinery.”
Nick said that he wanted to be able to show people what it looks like to grow hops – encourage them to consider beer from a paddock to pint perspective.
“Most people don’t even know what’s in beer let alone what a fresh hop looks like or smells like,” he said.
While awaiting approval, Nick and his homebrewer father have been knocking out brews on a 100-litre Chinese-manufactured pilot brewhouse, which Nick says has given him the steepest of learning curves.
“I’d never bought anything from China before and it’s been a bit of a nightmare,” he admitted.
“I think we’ve had to replace almost every mechanical part on it.”
Despite the headache, Nick told Brews News that he’s been fortunate to have made the mistake on this smaller, pilot system rather than having committed to a larger, scaleable brewhouse from the beginning.
The brewery team grew again six months ago when a chemical engineer and award-winning homebrewer came on board. Since then, they’ve developed five or so recipes, which they’re happy with.
If approved, Bucketty’s Brewery will be located at 5439 George Downes Drive, Bucketty 2250 NSW.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries.