The old hacks who worked for the Blue Mountains Echo decades ago would undoubtedly relish the thought of a brewery in their old workplace.
And if all goes to plan for DJ and Harriet McCready, that is exactly what will become of the paper’s former premises in Katoomba.
The couple have applied to install a craft brewpub in the Parke St building next to the fire station.
It most recently housed Civic Video but for more than 50 years between 1895 and 1948 was the home of various Mountains newspapers (The Mountaineer, the Echo, the Star, Katoomba Daily and the Advertiser).
It is listed as a good example of an inter-war free classical building but is in need of much work.
Fortunately the McCreadys have successfully applied for a grant to help restore it. The $100,000 from the state government “heritage near me” grants will go some way to bringing the building back to its former glory.
Harriet McCready said news of the grant was “wonderful”.
“We thought it was such a long shot so you can imagine when we heard … to say we were over the moon is an understatement.
She said the couple will take great pride in restoring it and bringing it back to life, rather than “have it crumble”.
Mr McCready is an award-winning brewer. He moved from his native USA to help set up Modus Operandi Brewing Co on the Northern Beaches several years ago.
At the Australian craft beer awards in 2014, Modus brews won eight awards, including the grand prize for its Former Tenant Red IPA.
Fast forward a couple of years – DJ meets Harriet, the couple marry and begin to spend a lot of time in the Mountains, visiting Harriet’s mum at Leura.
“We kept coming back and kept falling in love with the area more and more,” Mr McCready said.
As well as bushwalking and rock climbing, they were also looking for somewhere to set up their brewpub.
They were regular clients of Civic Video and loved the building.
“We were always coming in here renting DVDs and were wondering how long a video store would stay in business,” Mr McCready said.
As it transpired, it closed last October, giving them a golden opportunity.
“It was just green light after green light,” Mr McCready said. “All the pieces just kept lining up – the zoning, working through with council who seemed so supportive, the landlord and all the neighbours.”
The neighbours include the Family Hotel next door and the Carrington.
Mrs McCready is keen to point out that despite the word “pub” in the venture’s name, their project will be a very different creature from a standard hotel.
“It will be family-friendly and dog friendly and for people who want to taste top beers,” she said. It will not have poker machines, a TAB outlet, accommodation or other features of a regular pub.
The beers will also have a Mountains flavour, with Mr McCready planning to harvest local yeast for his brews.
Mr McCready was a brewing instructor in the US and is keen to set up a 1200 litre brew house.
Mrs McCready was “really excited” to be bringing a new venture to Katoomba: “I can’t wait to have friends and locals and tourists in here enjoying themselves.”