Buckets of Support for Kempsey Brewery

When Sam Preston looked at his next door neighbour’s mulberry tree, he got an idea. Sure, there was mulberry jam and mulberry pie but what about mulberry beer? A fan of home brewing, he decided to give the curious combination a crack. Now the owner of Kempsey’s Bucket Brewery, Sam has perfected the Macleay Mulbeery and will celebrate it this Sunday. Coastbeat visited the brewery and had a taste.  

There are quite a few layers of meaning behind the name Bucket Brewery. Sam and Amanda Preston have a son named James who struggled to pronounce his younger brother Patrick’s name. Bucket was all he could manage. It turned into a family joke and when the Prestons’ daughter was born, the boys were asked to put forward a name for their little sister. They enthusiastically suggested Bucket but that was vetoed, and Sophie was selected instead. Around the same time a Border Collie puppy came into their lives and, as a concession, she was allowed to take on the moniker. 

Sam and Marty at Buck Brewery Kempsey

“Around that time, I was doing a lot of homebrewing and the second I spilled some malt or beer, Bucket would bolt over and lick it up,” Sam remembers fondly. “We were having a few beers one day, trying to figure out what we would call this place and Bucket ran up and nearly knocked someone over…so it was decided!” 

On runs with the beloved family dog, Sam spotted an old factory by the river in Kempsey. It ticked a lot of his boxes – overlooking the river, flood free, industrial zoned and only a few kilometres from home. Four years ago, while taking long service leave from his position as a physics teacher at a local high school, Sam moved in, began renos and started brewing in earnest. Bucket Brewery beer is now stocked between Woolgoolga and Port Macquarie and out west to Tamworth. 

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Mulbeeryfest this Sunday 

In October, Amanda Preston put up a Facebook post asking the Macleay community to “pick a bucket for Bucket”. They were after as many local mulberries as possible in order to brew the seasonal Mulbeery beer. The post caught the attention of ABC Mid North Coast as well as the Prime7 news crew. An influx of kids keen to make some pocket money brought in bucket after bucket. The unexpected publicity meant the brewery had enough for not one, not two, but three batches of the Macleay Mulbeery beer! This Sunday the Mulbeery will be flowing and an expanded liquor license means the new outside seating area will be open. Murdok’s Smokehouse will be set, serving their barbeque menu inspired by mulberries. Think slow-smoked chicken tacos and smoked cheese Kransky dogs – yum! 

Buckets of local love 

Sam admits that Kempsey gets a bad rap sometimes and says that it’s an unfair assessment. Determined to focus on the town’s strengths and assets, he’s working to make a positive contribution. 

“The more things we make in Kempsey the better,” he says. “I’m hoping that one of my kids will take over in the future.”  

Sam’s noticed an increase in interest after recent campaigns encouraging people to shop and support businesses in their own backyard.

“We’ve had a lot of road trippers drop in as they travel up and down the coast,” he observes. “Stone & Wood in Byron is a common destination, but people are visiting the smaller breweries on the way, too.” 

Brewery expansion

Bucket Brewery has been steadily increasing – two new brewing tanks are on order – and Sam says he’ll likely employ more staff members in the not too distant future. Marty Polson is the latest recruit. Sam first met him when he came into the brewery on a tour with his TAFE class. A few weeks later, Marty was back to enquire about casual work. 

“His course included an internship component, so he did that here,” Sam explains. “After that we found him some hours because he works very hard.” 

Close up of four beers in glasses


If you can’t make it to Mulbeeryfest this weekend, Bucket Brewery is open Monday to Friday and on Saturdays when the Prestons aren’t playing cricket. The locally brewed and canned beer is stocked at Ritchies SUPA IGA Plus Liquor at Port Central.