By Ellen Hill
From the shabby chic decor and smooth jazz tunes to the eclectic mix of patrons to occupy the bar stools, the Carrington Hotel will brew a funky new future for propping up the bar in the Blue Mountains.
The new Katoomba Brewing Company and Bar will be located in the converted power station at the back of the first grand hotel in Australia’s first tourist destination.
It is the latest phase in the Carrington’s long-term restoration.
When opened at the end of the year, the brewery will initially carry three labels, all with a Blue Mountains reference and story: Three Sisters Pale Ale, The Great White Fleet American Pale Ale and Chimney Sweep Porter.
Carrington Hotel co-owner Michael Brischetto said there would also be a larger.
Visitors to Katoomba Brewing Company will be able to watch how the beer is made while chugging down a middy or schooey of the stuff behind a barrier in the bar.
”There will be one handrail separating you from the production floor so you will be able to smell and hear and be a part of the process but safely behind the barrier,” Mr Brischetto said.
But those expecting just another murky room with yeast-tainted warm air and filled with plastic chairs, pokie machines and stained ugly carpet are in for a surprise.
Katoomba Brewing Company and Bar decor will be shabby chic with Chesterfield leather lounges and steel poles, light fittings and decorations designed by local artists and a bohemian atmosphere.
“We’re calling it our adults-only bar,’’ Mr Brischetto said.
“Our other bars are for the younger patrons and this will be for the 40-plus set who would rather listen to some cool jazz than to a jukebox.
”You will sit at a big communal table and you could be sitting next to a doctor on one side and an struggling artist on the other and you could all be having the same conversation and drinking the same kind of beer.”
Ironically, the building that is the former Katoomba Electric Supply Company will be a very frugal power user, with hydronic heating in the slab floor and LED lighting. The whole operation will draw its power and heat from the recently installed cogeneration plant onsite.
The first batch of Katoomba Brewing Company beer will be ready in time for summer.
Stage one will be to brew enough beer to supply the bars of The Carrington Hotel and local demand. Stage two will be to retail and distribute the drop further afield. Stage three “is world domination’’, Mr Brischetto joked.
Regulars to the Carrington Cellars & Deli next door already stock up on regional brews they can buy nowhere else in the Blue Mountains.
When Katoomba Brewing Company opens, they can have their favourite hops freshly poured from a revolving visiting brewers tap.
As with most projects at the Carrington, the brewery building has been managed in-house, from visiting factories in China to choose brewing equipment to stripping the old power station space and building the fit-out.
Another project will be a new restaurant to be built above the current bottle shop to open by mid-2015, possibly to be followed by a beer garden on the brewery roof beneath the Carrington’s famous chimney stack.
A State Government regional tourism grant through Destination NSW funded the brewing equipment and to start the brewing company while a $250,000 Federal Government grant will pay for the fit-out of the restaurant.
The new brewery and restaurant will finish the list of major projects for the hotel.
”Then we can take a breath and assess the whole business and work out what we do next: do we build some more rooms so we can increase our conference business, do we take on some other projects around town?” Mr Brischetto said.
More than $10 million has already been spent on restoring the 130-year-old grand old lady of Katoomba during the past nine years including opening the popular Carrington Cellars and Deli, restoring Carrington Place in front of the hotel as a public space, revamping The Old Bank Brasserie and reclaiming the Harp & Fiddle and installing a natural gas co-generation electricity generator.