A second life for the 1860s mill that's to become a food and arts hub - and a brewery - for Castlemaine
Between March 2015 and the end of the year, Castlemainians – and their treechanging friends – can expect to see some pretty exciting things happening on the vast site of the Old Woollen Mill. The property was a carpet factory long after it stopped functioning as a woollen mill – but then locals Phil McConachy and Ronnie Moule stepped in to buy it, and opened it up to expressions of interest.
Plans are now underway to transform the site into the sort of hub that will draw in the weekend trippers. The lower vicinity will become a food precinct, but there's also plenty of on-site wizardry going on: Coffee Basics will be roasting there, alongside the churning exertions of Icecream Social, and it's home to the new Castlemaine Brewing Co. and its taproom.
“We wanted to come up with an eponymous beer,” says Michael Wolfe of Castlemaine Brewing Co. His Castlemaine Beer bears the motto “bring it home” – an oblique reference to the fact that Castlemaine XXXX has always been brewed in Queensland but is named after our own Castlemaine, which is where the brewery first stood.
Their first batch – Castlemaine Gold Sparkling Ale – should find its way to local pubs in January 2015, followed later by Castlemaine Lager Original Pilsner and Castlemaine Ale India Pale Ale. At present they’re using a contract brewer, but soon it will all be done on site at the Old Woollen Mill. Once up and running, the brewery taproom will likely only be open Friday nights to Sunday afternoons each week.
Wine more your thing? Then keep an eye out for the opening of the Boomtown Winemakers Cooperative space. It's a partnership between three small Castlemaine wine labels – Minim Wine, Chapter Wine and Little Reddie – and they'll be creating their very own winery and barrel store right in the Mill.
Once done up, the Woollen Mill should have a handsome industrial aesthetic – exposed brick work, the stainless steel of the brewery, and the spoils of the artist studios and antique stores that will also be dotted around. Head up to Castlemaine in March 2015 for the State Festival, and you'll see the beginnings of an exciting new dvelopment.
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