After a couple of years building their brand via the contract brewing route in Sydney’s Inner West, Reckless Brewing have found a home – in a heritage-listed flour mill in Bathurst.
Their hunt for a brewery headquarters was never restricted to Sydney. While the Inner West is a centre of gravity in the beer scene, the Reckless crew also love regional New South Wales – the serenity, the close knit communities, and the country hospitality – so included regional population centres in their search. Even a year or two ago (somewhere within the time warp that is 2020-2021), they said: “We’re looking for the perfect local community for us, whether that’s Inner West somewhere, or Newcastle, or Bathurst…”
During the COVID lockdowns, the founding trio, Grace Fowler, Jarrod Moore, and Alice Wilson, took a break from actively looking for a space. But when someone in an online beer tasting mentioned a brewery space was available in Bathurst, their ears pricked up.
“By that chance meeting, we researched it – yeah, it’s still there, and yes, it’s empty – so we went and had a look… and it’s kind of perfect.”
The site is Crago Mill, a beautiful, heritage-listed flour mill that previously housed Two Heads Brewing for a few years.
Since most breweries find an industrial space and have to go through the rigmarole of making it fit for purpose – think warehouse that requires months and sometimes years of building and approvals – the Reckless team were expecting to have to go down the same road. As such, they were stoked to find a spot already brewery-ready.
Plumbing and drainage? Check. Two cold rooms? Check. Bar and beer taps? Check. Full commercial kitchen? Check.
“[Two Heads] did an amazing job with the site. It’s just beautiful. The bar is a super long reclaimed timber bar, the kitchen is insane," Grace says. "The licences are all there, all of the food safety approvals…
“That can take some breweries years to navigate, [but for us] it looks like it’s just tick a few boxes and pay a few fees and we’ll be done.”
The venue side of the space is a rustic two-level area with timber floors and a fireplace.
“Really quite a beautiful space,” Grace says. “And once it’s filled with people and music and beer, it’ll be even better.
"I have this image of old school leather or velvet couches around the fireplace, sitting there having a nice stout or red IPA… not that I’ll have time! But I can watch other people and that will being me joy.”
There’s also a beer garden out the front and space for another outdoor area around the back, for which the team have plans including festoon lighting and heaters to create a comfortable atmosphere.
On the brewery side, the team are looking to expand the brewing area that Two Heads were using: installing a four-vessel, 12hL brewhouse, with the capacity to brew almost half a million litres of a year.
“A substantial size,” is how Grace puts it, “but we’re confident we’ll grow into that very quickly.”
They’re aiming to open by the time Reckless’ third birthday arrives in September with approximately ten staff across the brewery and venue; “We currently have one, by comparison!”
There will be rotating food trucks at the venue from the beginning, with the possibility of the kitchen coming into play in the future.
RECKLESS DOES BATHURST
As of 2018, when Two Heads shut up shop, Bathurst has been one of the largest population centres in the country still without an operational brewery. And since Reckless already sell their beers in Bathurst, they know there’s an appetite for their product there.
They’ve been flattered by the number of locals who have contacted them, including multiple members of the "Bathirstyans", a group of craft beer lovers.
“The locals are excited we’ve started talking about this! I’m getting emails from the local pie man, saying ‘I want to put your beer in our pies!’
“We already feel welcome here.”
Although Grace and Jarrod live almost an hour out of Bathurst, Jarrod already considers himself a pseudo-local of Bathurst since he’s a diehard supercar fan. So when a friend gifted the Reckless team some sponsorship on a V8 supercar in 2021, Jarrod was over the moon.
"I think a lifelong dream of Jarrod’s has been getting something he created on a supercar,” Grace says. “He was like a little school child. It was hilarious.
"When he told me, ‘The most amazing thing has happened ever’, I thought we’d won the lottery or something!
“But no, it was the supercar.”
After signing the lease on the mill this week, the Reckless team are revving at the starting line to fit out the space in time to open by September 1, 2022.
Photo at top by Chris Seabrook.