Concept plans, & An invitation to come and share a few pints.

After a quiet period over Christmas, the wheels are turning once again. We’re a little closer to identifying exactly what Bucketty’s Brewery is going to look and feel like. Our original plan was a shed, with pallets for tables, stumps for seats and a big-ass fire pit. But then I got talking to a builder mate, who has an architect mate who designs iconic office towers. Here’s a link to some of their work: http://www.urbanpossible.com/projects

He suggested we get together and have a chat.

I wasn’t really sure exactly what we wanted, I just knew how I wanted it to feel. Warm, welcoming, different, memorable, and a place you’d want to invite your friends to. Obviously it has to be functional, but every brewery I’ve ever been to has had function as it’s primary purpose, with the tap room chucked on at the end near the roller-shutter door.

Bucketty’s Brewery will be a blend of function and design. You’ll feel part of the brewery, without the cold aesthetic of an expansive steel roof, cold concrete floor and huge steel tanks to keep you company. How we do that? This is why you pay an architect… or at least I assume that’s why. I’ve never done this before, but that’s what it says on the box.

After deliberating with Lexi, we decided to invest the money and have Simon from Urban Possible put together a concept plan using the site survey, a site inspection and dimensions of our future equipment as a guide.

It wasn’t cheap, and you’ll probably judge me for spending this much on a fancy-pants architect from the CBD. But but but, this building will stand long after I’m gone and be the shelter for thousands of clinked glasses and good-times toasts. So we figure it’s worth it.

The concept plans set us back $7k, with full fee proposal to get us to the DA sitting at about $16k.

So with the plans in hand, it’s time to engage a town planner. Stephen Leathley from Insight Planning in Pokolbin came recommended having submitted several DA’s through Cessnock council for similar uses in his long career.

Stephen seems like a good bloke, very to the point. Strong handshake, no bullshit and a dry sense of humour to a point where I’m not always sure if he’s joking. During the first site visit he loved an IPA we’d just kegged up, so I liked him from that point forward and he agreed to help us get it through the council.

And this is where the festival of the fees begins.

We’d budgeted $20k to get the DA approved based on an architecture mate who licked his finger and held it into an oncoming breeze. Seemed about right I guess, based on absolutely no knowledge of anything.

$20k’s easy to say. “Yeah, it’ll be about $20k mate” Rolls off the tongue a little too comfortably.

Here’s where we’re up to so far.

Traffic Consultant $2,700 – Which seems to me to be a bloke coming and counting cars for a day, measuring the driveway and sending me a bill.

Wastewater management $4,800 – They’re coming on site to measure the soil and work out how I can best treat and dispose of the waste water on from the brewery and venue.

Stormwater management $2,200 – They’re producing a report to work out how much rain will be collected from the roof, and how we’ll deal with the overflow. This I don’t get… It’s the same amount of rain as before, and we’re catching almost all of it. If there’s overflow it’s going down the hill, just like before it was in place? Isn’t it?

Bushfire $980 – Of all the reports, this is probably the most important but the least expensive which seemed odd, but who am I to argue.

Town planning $10k – The fee for Stephen to coordinate the consultants and submit the DA.

And this is before I’ve actually lodged the DA or paid any of the associated costs.

“$20k mate, whattidya expect?” Whatevs… it’s in the budget and I suspect I’m going to need to get used to this feeling…

Beer!

Now, the fun part – Making beer.

I’m pleased to report we’re getting pretty good at it. I met a new friend on the Aussie Home Brewer forum. A bloke in his early 30’s named Brydon, who knows more about beer than anyone I’ve met. He’s won a bunch of home brew awards and judged at several competitions.

Most importantly, he has a ponytail and whispy facial hair – a prerequisite for beer connoisseurs.

Determination – “I reckon we can do this…. Let’s f#cking do this!” 

One thing we’ve learned since our dreams were crushed like an aluminum can from back in 1990 when you could get cash for empty cans that weren’t in pristine condition and we paid as actual money instead of a shopping voucher to a duopoly conglomerate with no soul….is that we can’t brew beer outside an industrial area until councils fix up the issues with the zoning, which will likely take years. We can sell beer in Bucketty, we just can’t brew it there.

We considered renting a small industrial unit in Somersby about 30mins down the road to do the brewing. But… meh… splitting the operation like that would add even more cost and complexity as well as soaking up a lot of the fun. 

Then we struck a winner. We’ll join the evolving Brookvale brewery mecca on Sydney’s Northern Beaches! 

We’ve lived on the beaches for the past 12 years and have built up an incredible community of friends. Not only that, my experience getting to know brewers in the area has been incredible. Almost all have rolled out the red carpet to help become part of the scene (love it!).

To give you an idea of what I mean, before we submitted an offer on the property I called Dave, from Dad & Dave’s Brewing. Their brewery and tap room will shortly be directly across the road, and I asked if he minded if we set up so close. His response was complete enthusiasm! He even offered to share the cost of consultants as part of the DA process. Where else does that happen but the craft beer industry? Bloody nowhere. 

Granted this is a massive pivot, but what if we brought the chilled out bush vibe to the beaches? I reckon that’d go pretty well, and there’s only one way to find out. Jump in and start paddling.

So after months of deliberations and planning we’re excited to confirm we’re going for it.

We’re opening a brewery and tap room in Brookvale!

Just this past week we agreed terms on a freestanding industrial building only a block from 7th Day Brewery, 4 Pines Truck Bar and Nomads. It’s an awesome space with a bit of outdoor area and room for 120 patrons (if all goes well with licensing!).  

Brydon is on the left, the other guy with a ponytail and whispy beard on the right is Lloyd.

He lives on the central coast and has been working in a grey cubicle in Sydney for the past 11 years with dreams of throwing in the keyboard and swapping it for a grain mill.

As of this post, we’ve done 5 brews, each time increasing the levels of efficiency and deliciousness of the process. A Pale Ale, Belgian Ale, American Wheat Beer, Amber Ale and Session Ale.

You likely appreciate by now that I’m a bit of a “details shmetails” kinda guy, especially when it comes to brewing. Whereas Brydon is more “details details” orientated, and I’m happy for him to detail the shit out of the brewing process, because what we have coming out the tap is something to be proud of.

26 Orchard Road, Brookvale