Bucketty’s Brewery has officially opened its doors in Brookvale after a rollercoaster two years and a major move from regional NSW to the coast.
The brewery was originally conceived in 2019 as a rural production house and taproom in the town of Bucketty. But the dream of co-founders Lexi and Nick McDonald was dashed when rural zoning issues ruined their plans and prevented them building a brewery on their planned site. Bucketty’s quickly pivoted and moved its location to Brookvale in Sydney’s Northern Beaches in early 2020.
Whilst they have not entirely given up on Bucketty and are still planning a taproom in the town, Brookvale is now Bucketty’s Brewery’s true home. The brand has been nomad brewing at Dad & Dave’s Brewing and Quakers Hat, neighbouring breweries in Brookvale which themselves only opened up last year.
“It’s amazing,” said Nick. “Just seeing the number of people in the venue and we’ve had really good feedback on the beers, we’re rating well on Untappd.”
“The first two weekends have been really positive, there were lines down the street to get in.”
It has been a labour of love for the team, and it was important to them to incorporate some of Bucketty into the new brewery.
“We put a lot of effort into the taproom and handmade most of the furniture. We have a big table which was made from timbers from a bridge that burned down in Bucketty last summer during the bushfires.
“The stools and high tables are all made by the team. The bar is made from timber from ironbark trees we milled in Bucketty. It took about six or seven weeks to make it, and it would have been easier to get finished timber in, but we’re trying to bring a bit of soul to the place.
“We’ll be there for a long time so how you fill the space is super important. We’ve got good lighting, good music, it’s a bit of a late-night spot, as we’re open to midnight on Friday and Saturday with a full bar as well, so we can serve wine and cocktails.”
Having already gone up against a council in Bucketty, the team were eager to have a better experience in Brookvale.
“[The council] were better. But it was a difficult process and we had COVID-19 in the middle as well,” Nick admitted.
“Overall, it was 10 months to get approval and they almost rejected the application because we didn’t have visitor parking, even though there are other breweries around that don’t as well.”
The venue will have a capacity of 120, although the size of the venue could conceivably fit more.
“We could probably fit 250 people but the council won’t let us because we haven’t got visitor parking, so we were restricted on this one.”
The team identified the site in Brookvale by early 2020, but while COVID-19 created uncertainty in the commercial real estate sector, Bucketty was not to benefit.
“We got the DA in as fast as we could. But a week before signing the lease we thought there’s no way we can sign a lease now [in the middle of COVID] but we’d put our DA through and our liquor licence, but no one knew what was going on.”
In the meantime, the landlord brought a short-term tenant in, and the plot thickened.
“What happened was that Lexi walked past the venue to get a coffee and these short term tenants were ripping out the kitchen and walls – they said they were taking it for 10 years.
“At that stage, we thought we can’t move that DA. We’ve spent time and money getting it done.
“They hadn’t signed a 10-year lease yet, so we ended up getting into a bidding war with them. We’re paying more, so instead of COVID going to our advantage, it was the opposite!
“It was one of those things. We’d have to find another building and it would put us back 12 months.”
They bit the bullet and opened their doors for a soft launch at the beginning of February.
McDonald and his team have been through a lot when it comes to planning, having gone through the process with two councils.
“I’d say try having a relationship with the council and the duty planner in the council. Going through it with the town planner, they don’t go over and above even if they charge $350 an hour.
“I ended up project managing it myself and trying to make sense of it all, because they were so unhelpful. My advice is to not just rely on consultants’ advice – you have to have them [but research it yourself too].”
The Bucketty brewing team is working on a 10hL, three-vessel Brewtique kit.
“We’re doing one that’s a cross between a pale and an IPA that we’re calling our Aussie Hazy. It’s my favourite so far with amazing passionfruit aroma on the nose and a nice blend of bitter and sweet on the back end, but what’s been interesting is our brewer Tony D’Astolfo, normally prides himself on making nice clean beers so he’s struggling to get the haze going!”
“But we’ve done a second batch and it’s come in a bit hazier and there’s a good aroma to it now.
“At the moment we’ve got a lager, bitter, XPA, Hazy and a special 2021 hop harvest ale brewed from our own fresh hops farmed at our farm in Bucketty.”
With not only Dad & Dave’s and Quakers Hat, but Nomad Brewing, 7th Day and 4 Pines withing a few hundred metres, Brookvale is only growing its reputation as a brewing destination.
“It works pretty well, people bounce between the two of us and the other breweries in Brookvale too.”
With a solid lineup of beers and a destination to be proud of, Nick was thankful that their dream had finally come to fruition and for his team.
“I’d thank my wife Lexi who has been there through the whole thing, Tony who was at Six Strings and joined us a long time ago when it was still all up in the air and Scotty, our venue manager who was Modus Operandi.
“It’s been tough, but worthwhile,” he said.
Bucketty’s Brewing Co. is now open at 26 Orchard Rd, Brookvale NSW 2100
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.