What’s it like owning a brewery?
If you’ve read any of our story you know how difficult it’s been to get Bucketty’s off the ground, but now that we’re a living breathing brewery - What’s it actually like?
Is it the utopia that we dreamt of when we started off on this crazy journey?
No. Utopia’s aren’t a thing.
Everything is hard.
But it is that struggle that makes the first beer that touched my lips taste so bloody good.
We’re now 6 weeks in and Bucketty’s seems to have captured the attention and imagination of the Northern Beaches community here in Sydney. We are full almost every Friday and Saturday night with heaps of people coming back multiple times. Bucketty’s is getting good reviews for our beers, despite them not being 100% up to Tony’s (head brewer) standards. Things are going gangbusters!
It’s been bloody amazing. Local media have picked up our story, we’ve had the mayor down helping us with the Grand Opening and it seems as though people are digging what we do. It’s a common sight to see a line out the door to get in on the weekends.
I reckon Bucketty’s is something special.
It’s not just a bar or a brewery. It’s a place where magic happens, but not the kid’s lame fairy magic. The kind of magic that you feel when your favourite song comes on, you hear a punter on the other side of the room that looks nothing like you singing it at the top of their lungs, you clink your glass with the mate next to you, swig the beer and slur “how good is this!”
But if the title of this post attracted you, then you want to know more than just the good stuff. What’s it ACTUALLY like having your own bar and brewery?
Look, I’m gonna level with you. I love it, but it’s very very hard and very very expensive.
I’ve been blessed with an incredibly supportive wife, a team of guys that have happily shovelled shit that’s well below their pay grade for months and access to funds through our mortgage redraw to help get us open as soon as possible. Because as soon as the key to 26 Orchard Rd landed in my hand, the money started flying out the door faster than you can say “A thingamabob costs how much?”
BTW Thingamabobs cost anywhere between $2k and $20k and we needed lots of them…
My initial business plan (cool kids call it a feasibility, or “feaso”) blew out about a month in.
I got to a point where I had to reframe the way I thought about spending money and turn it into a positive that got us closer to our goal. Because we had no choice. We’d already jumped off the cliff.
There was no turning back and every day we fart-arsed around thinking about whether or not we should buy another Thingamabob was another day we weren’t open. Every day we were burning thousands of dollars.
The speed in which decisions needed to be made was all consuming. Every day I’d be hit with dozens of important questions about the location of a tank, or the selection of glassware, the location of a door, or a sign, or a footrail, or the colour of a fucking thingamabob. I’d go to bed at night feeling like a computer hard drive that had been thrown down a set of stairs, the information was all in there somewhere, I just couldn’t remember how to remember. All I hung onto was the belief that I’d find a way, I didn’t have a choice.
I’d find a way, or we’d go bust.
“Enough of the drama already!I get it! It's hard, yeah whatever… just tell me how great it is so I can start thinking about starting my own brewery!”
I hear you.
But you don’t get it.
And that’s fine.
I ignore most of the shit people tell me when it's not what I want to hear too.
So let me tell you about how great owning a brewery is in bullet points:
- It’s a special feeling having your own beer in your own bar, setting the tone, the music the menu then sitting down to take it all in.
- I love the creativity. Every day we’re coming up with new creative shit to try, from beer to food to games and events. No day is mundane.
- People think you’re pretty cool when you own a brewery. I didn’t reckon I’d care too much for this, but now that it’s happened, I confess I quite like it.
- The industry is incredibly supportive. There are 5 breweries in Brookvale, and each one of them has reached out and supported us in some way. The other night we had staff from Nomads, 4Pines, 7th Day and Dad&Dave’s all having beers in our tap room at the same time. There’s not many industries that support each other like brewers do.
- Our busy tap room is addictive. I’ve had weeks where I’ve worked 50+hrs through the week, only to work at the bar on Friday and Saturday for 12hr shifts finishing at 1am, and loving every moment. I’m exhausted at the end of it, but while punters are lined up at the bar and the music cranking, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
Now we’re 6 weeks in the intensity has lessened and our team is starting to click, I’m no longer needed every hour of the day. It’s still 7 days a week and will be for a while. But it’s all good, this is what we do.
Scotty, our venue manager, asked me the other day “If you could do this again, would you?”
The question gave me pause…
I love it, but it’s tested me and my family in ways I never thought possible.
So yeah, I would. Because nothing worth doing is easy.