There is something brewing in the old Locksley School House just over 25 kilometres south of Bathurst. And it turns out it’s beer.
The former public school was closed in 1970 and the property acquired by Mick Hoban’s parents in 1974.
Mr Hoban said he and his wife Deb took over the residence in the late 1990s and started to renovate and add some outbuildings.
Always in the back of Mr Hoban’s mind as he put on a workshop and loft was the idea of establishing a brewery.
The Hoban family went to Ireland and the United Kingdom for work in 2008 and, in the later part of 2009, Mr Hoban was employed to establish a boutique brewery in Kent.
The experience stuck with him and when the Hobans returned to Australia he began to think seriously about installing a brewery at the family’s Locksley residence.
The first seeds of Fish River Valley Brewing were sown in mid-2010 and just under three years later one of Mr Hoban’s brews is being sold commercially through local eatery and bar, Church Bar.
Mr Hoban said that while the process has certainly been a lot of hard work, the rewards are definitely worth it.
He said the local support and backing he has received has been overwhelming. From building the brewery and equipment through to the ingredients in the beer, so much of the process has involved locals.
The main brewing kettle was custom designed and built by Lawrence Sim and Mr Hoban and has some very unique features and outstanding efficiency. Mr Hoban said there is not another in the world like it.
Mr Hoban’s latest yet-to-be-named ale has been made exclusively on local hops grown less than five kilometres from the brewery.
“The process of making a green hop brew was a real challenge, as there is only a very small window of opportunity to work with the hops. The hops were picked and pitched into a brew in less than two days,” he said.
Fish River Valley Brewing is currently producing a range of brews, including the Old School Wheat Ale which came on tap at Church Bar a week ago.
Matt Priddle, a staff member at the local bar, said the local brew is selling really well.
“It’s a really refreshing, light ale, which is perfect for the weather at the moment. The feedback from customers has been really positive and we have been wanting to stock a local beer for a while now, so it’s great that Mick is turning out some quality drops.”
Mr Priddle said the bar is looking at stocking more brews from Mr Hoban and as the weather cools down they will be getting his darker beer, Dirty Swamp Ale, on tap.
Mr Hoban said he is drawing inspiration from his surroundings for the names of his brews.
“The Dirty Swamp Ale comes from the fact that the first European settlers in the area actually named Locksley Dirty Swamp,” he said.