Two enterprising Kempsey couples, Sam and Amanda Preston and Tim and Peta-Maree Sproule have followed their dreams and put a lot of hard work and effort into creating one of the region’s newest breweries – Bucket Brewery. With three great beers currently available, Tim fills us in the brewery’s development to date.
Where did you guys meet?
Peta-Maree and Amanda are sisters. Sam and I are brothers-in-law and have known each other for about 15 years.
How did the idea to establish your own brewery come about?
While studying science at university, Sam developed an interest in brewing. Firstly, out of necessity – because time was plentiful, and money was short.
As time went on, study ended, his income increased, yet the brewing continued. Sam’s brewing evolved from using home brew kits into the development of his own custom made all grain brewery system. It was made using a drink cooler for mashing and an old keg heated over a gas burner as a kettle.
Kempsey is where we all grew up. After high school, both couples moved away to study in Sydney. About 13 years ago, Amanda and Sam moved back to Kempsey to be closer to family, pursue careers and start a family of their own. Peta-Maree’s and my story is very similar, only nine years later. It was by fortunate coincidence that when Peta-Maree and I moved home, we purchased a house in the street parallel to Sam and Amanda – only a three minute walk apart.
It wasn’t long after Peta-Maree and I moved back to Kempsey that we set Thursday nights aside as family dinner nights. This is how Sam got me interested in brewing also – Thursday nights evolved to become a family, dinner, and brewing night. After dinner, Sam and I would retire to the shed to brew. To refine our skills, we purchased a self-contained 50 L brewing system called a Braumeister.
Us boys began brewing more beer than we could consume and began giving some away to family and friends to try. The feedback was very encouraging, which only motivated us to brew more. The concept of developing a brewery gained momentum as confidence increased.
Describe how you’ve developed Bucket Brewery to date …
If you ask Amanda and Peta-Maree, Sam and I spent too much time together in the shed talking beer and breweries! About two years ago, Sam and I started researching how to open a brewery.
Starting a brewery is expensive, and we didn’t want to make mistakes. Feeling confident about our recipes but not too sure about the process of opening a brewery, we hired a consultant. The consultant provided advice about what equipment to buy and direction on navigating the labyrinth of legislative requirements.
Once deciding on the equipment, it had to be manufactured. We agreed on a 300 L brewhouse, accompanied by three fermentors –
two x 300 L fermentors and one x 600 L fermentor, which took about six months to be delivered. In March 2015, the equipment arrived. We quickly set about installing it and familiarising ourselves with its operation.
Since then we have been refining our skills to become efficient, meanwhile still working full -time jobs and balancing family commitments.
The Hotel Kempsey has been one of our biggest supporters. Bucket now has all three beers available on tap, to a great response from the Kempsey locals.
What beers are you currently brewing?
In Sam’s other life as a high school teacher, he teaches kids science and also German. Multiple leisure and working trips to Germany inspired Sam’s interest in all things German, which has influenced our brewing.
Bucket Brewery is regularly brewing three styles: a German inspired lager modelled from a Munich Helles, a German Black (Schwarz) beer, and also an American style “Pail” ale.
Your newest brew is your “Pail Ale”. No doubt everyone’s wondering what the significance of the “Bucket” or pail is – how did the business get its name?
Before Sam and Amanda’s daughter was born, her two older brothers (James and Patrick) were asked to contribute suggestions for her name. They thought “Bucket” was an appropriate name for a little sister. Needless to say, she was called the far more suitable name, Sophie. Instead, the family dog inherited the name Bucket.
When home brewing, Bucket was always underfoot, eagerly awaiting any opportunity to eat any spilled malt. One afternoon when having a beer in the shed and trying to decide on an appropriate brewery name, Bucket nearly tripped one of the boys over, and Bucket Brewery was born.
A silhouette of Bucket the dog is our logo and was designed by Amanda and Peta-Maree’s other sister, Kasey. Kasey owns her own design and print business in Melbourne called Pink Tea Pot.
Where can people currently try/purchase your brews?
Hotel Kempsey – Bucket Black, Bucket Lager and Bucket Pail Ale; Seabreeze Beach Hotel at South West Rocks – Bucket Lager; 63 First Avenue, Sawtell – Bucket Lager. And we have keen interest from other local venues.
Your beer is currently available by the keg, but you’ll be producing canned beer soon. Where will we be able to buy cartons of your product?
The Bucket team made an early business decision to produce beer in packaging people can take home. Lots of very enthusiastic people were asking how to set up a keg in their house. However, this isn’t achievable or advisable for everyone.
We embarked on the difficult decision of deciding between cans or bottles. Cans won, because the technology has come a long way. You no longer get the “tinny” taste, and it’s much better for the beer, as cans don’t allow any light and less oxygen into the container.
Six packs and cartons will be on sale at the Hotel Kempsey, Cellarbrations West Kempsey, and the Seabreeze Beach Hotel South West Rocks, among others, shortly.
And you’ll be one of the local breweries showcasing your talents at the Crafts on the Coast event, on March 5th and 6th at the Seabreeze Hotel, South West Rocks?
The Bucket team are ecstatic to be a part of Crafts on the Coast. We commend the staff at the Seabreeze Beach Hotel for creating an opportunity for local producers to showcase their product and pair it with great food and live music. Bucket Brewery, along with Black Duck Brewery (Port Macquarie), Little Brewing Co. (Port Macquarie), Murray’s Brewery (Port Stephens), and Six String Brewing (Central Coast), as well as Hills Cider (South Australia) will provide tastings and match one of their beers with a course at the brewers’ dinner on Saturday night.
We hope people try our beer and become customers again in the future. It’s also a great networking opportunity to meet other producers.
Is Bucket Brewery open to the public? Where can readers contact you or find out more info?
As the Bucket Brewery is currently operating from a private residence, we aren’t allowed to provide tours to the public. We are working towards having a venue that is accessible so we can showcase our equipment and brewing skills.
The best way to contact us is by email, either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview by Jo Atkins.