Recently a number of Back of the Ferry stalwarts went on a coast trip to Crescent Head. Crescent Head is 340km North of Sydney, and has the towns of Port Macquarie to the south and Kempsey to the North East. Crescent Head is famous for the number of fine surf breaks both in town and south. Racecourse, Plomer, Big Hill and Queens Head can all provide wonderful renowned waves. But with surfing you are in the lap of the gods and when there’s a North Easterly blowing the entire trip – you are forced in land for entertainment.
Fortunately the towns of Port Macquarie and Kempsey aren’t too far and fortuitously they embraced the craft beer revolution. We revisited the Black Duck brewery (great Ploughman’s) and also paid our dues to a regional brewing pioneer in the Little Brewing Company – the makers of the Wicked Elf range. Black Duck has maintained its wide variety of beers and the bucket hat is a nice addition to the merch. Little Brewing has changed hands recently and they’ve updated their logo. Still making great beers and their Inconsiderate Bastard Double IPA was a dangerous (7.4ABV) standout. Their Quadrupels and Trippels are still available as well (that’s one being drunk on the Hibbard Ferry). MooreBeer completes the Port Macquarie trio, but they only open Fri-Sun.
The following day the north easterly kept on blowing and despite a valiant attempt to extract a decent surf at Queens Head we were forced inland again and it was off to Kempsey to visit Bucket Brewery.
What a find! We will follow the progress of these guys with great interest. Bucket has moved into an old generator shed next to the Macleay River and the Railway Bridge. Not hard to find, but not immediately obvious. The renovation of the shed is awesome and they aren’t finished yet with more slabs being laid as we were there. The lads hit the place hard with merch flying left right and centre. The brothers that started the brewery in their own shed weren’t there, but Martyn did a fine job filling mini-kegs, answering questions and dishing out tasters.
Stand outs for me were the terry-towelling merch and the Pale Ale. The Pale Ale would be my go-to if I lived in Kempsey. The locals have embraced it and we saw it in bottlos and pubs (most notably on tap at the Riverview Hotel, Smithtown – worth a visit). They make seasonals and their takeaway fridge groans with a good selection of standards and seasonals.
It isn’t just about the beer. There’s plenty to look at at Bucket – sculptures, buses, buildings and potential. Loved it and hope to return.
Black Duck Brewery: 6 Acacia Avenue, Port Macquarie NSW
The Little Brewing Co: Unit 1, 58 Uralla Road, Port Macquarie NSW
Bucket Brewery: 2 Prince Street, South Kempsey NSW