When a brewery’s grand opening includes the mayor cutting through a branch with a chainsaw instead of the standard ribbon ceremony, you’ve got to wonder why.
Nick and Lexi McDonald originally planned to open a brewery in Bucketty, a little spot in the Hunter Valley. They bought land and even planted a hop farm, but after years of planning their application was eventually rejected by the local council.
The story could have ended there, but Nick and Lexi were not so easily put off – instead they decided to bring a taste of Bucketty to Sydney's Northern Beaches.
Adding another spoke to Brookvale’s hub of breweries, Bucketty's Brewing holds onto some proper Aussie bush character. Timber from Bucketty is on show throughout the venue – from the log archway, to the nine metre long bar, to the table made from a bridge that burned down in the 2020 bushfires; you can even see the char on the beams that frame the tap list. And that's before you even get to the corrugated iron, the retro country dining chairs, and the gum leaf logo that decorates the beer mugs.
There’s also a definite focus on the colour green – the plants filling the alfresco area, the green neon sign looking over the green felt of the pool table, right through to the green brewhouse floor that reflects off the bottom of the stainless steel fermenters. It's clear the vibe matters at Bucketty's.
“A lot of breweries are a brewery first with a little taproom as an afterthought,” Nick says. “We wanted to find a cool building where we could make a great venue, and then work out a way to put a brewery in.”
But that doesn’t mean the brewery side of things has been overlooked. The three-vessel brewhouse, designed to spec by head brewer Tony D’Astolfo, is visible from most of the venue. Customers can watch the brewers hustling on the brew deck, or even peek through a glass window that shows the inner workings of the coolroom, and feel close to the brewing process.
"You're not getting in the way in a factory, but you're still very much part of it,” Lexi says.
There’s plenty of the finished product to keep people busy: 12 taps offer up a spectrum of options, whether you're feeling like a New World lager, a sessionable stout, a hazy and juicy pale, or an IPA that flows from Tony’s taste for dankness. If you want an idea of the beer quality, they won medals two years running at the biggest beer competition on the planet, the World Beer Cup in the US, which is some achievement.
There's also a full range of non-beer beverages available, with plenty of wines, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. This, alongside the tight but diverse food menu, shows how much the Bucketty’s team want to look after all kinds of people.
“We just tried to make it as inclusive as possible," Lexi says, pointing out that Bucketty’s is dog-friendly, kid-friendly, and non-beer-drinker friendly. “Everybody can come along and enjoy the space and a bit of a chat.”
Part of what makes the space so enjoyable is the array of entertainment on offer. Regular live music by local artists, a pool table, a foosball table, two dartboards and an NBA Jam arcade machine make it an easy place to wile away the hours with family and friends.
“I love everything that happens around having a beer,” Nick says. "Just that time of the week where you get to relax and forget about all the shit that's going on. And just connect with people – new friends, old friends…”
Perhaps you want to pull up a stool at the bar and receive some good ol’ hospitality from the smiling staff. Or maybe you're more interested in letting the green neon glow and a soundtrack of live music wash over you as you shoot pool into the night (since Bucketty's is open til midnight on Friday and Saturday).
Either way, you may be in Brookvale, but you’ll be in a Bucketty state of mind.