In the shell of an old power station in South Kempsey, something special is brewing.
The building, which once housed Kempsey’s main power supply, is now filled with the hum and splash of 1200L fermentation tanks, churning out Kempsey’s own brewed and canned beer.
It's a remarkable transformation, and represents the culmination of a long-time passion of Kempsey’s Sam Preston.
The Bucket Brewery, as it is now known, has its roots in 20 years of backyard brewing that Sam has done as a hobby.
Two years ago, he started being regularly joined during brewing by good mate Tim Sproule.
The duo’s operation soon expanded and was split between their two sheds.
“After a bit of time we figured ‘let’s do this properly’,” Sam explained.
Earlier this year Sam quit his job as a science teacher to take Bucket Brewery on full time, in the process moving from a backyard operation to the South Kempsey premises.
Sam acknowledges it's been a risky leap, but changes in the beer industry over the last decade have helped convince him he was in with a fighting chance.
“I've always had a little bit of a dream to do something like this,” he said.
“The way that the industry has changed in the last 10 years has given us a fair bit of confidence.”
Giving something back to Kempsey is a major motivator
Although he shies away from describing the product as “craft beer” (an overused term, he says) he does embrace their underdog status.
“It’s beer from the little bloke,” Sam explained.
According to Sam, who is Kempsey born and raised, the brewery is also an opportunity to contribute something different to the town.
“Giving something back to Kempsey is a major motivator,” he explains.
“Besides being a bit of fun, it’s a chance to do something good for the town.”
Sam said they were hopeful of getting a cellar door up and running soon, making the former power station the place to be for a night out in Kempsey.
If initial interest is anything to go by, they’re in with a good shot at success – with local establishments such as the Kempsey-Macleay RSL Club, the RSL Bowling Club, and the Seabreeze Hotel among those to stock the beer on tap already.
Not bad for two blokes used to brewing out of their back shed. “It’s pretty exciting,” Sam smiled.