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The Taproom & ShedShaker

Doug Falconer and Jaqueline Brodie Harris at the ever-welcoming Taproom

It has a welcoming, grunge, nightclub feel and is one of the popular haunts of locals and tourists alike.                      

It’s The Taproom and ShedShaker Brewery at The Mill in Castlemaine. 

Mention their name and most people know of them even if they haven’t yet visited for a drink, to listen to music, comedy, take part in quizzes, join in singalongs or listen to popular authors talk about their books. But what is perhaps not so well known is the devotion of Jacqueline Brodie Harris and Doug Falconer to sustainable philosophy and principles.  These underpin every aspect of their business and their lives. 

In 2016 the couple bought the Brewery that was then known as The Castlemaine Brewery Co.  It had been owned by one of their friends for a mere month, before he realised that it wasn’t for him. 

Neither Jacqueline nor Doug had had any previous experience with brewing beer, but both had come from hospitality backgrounds and Doug had owned the Five Flags Hotel in Campbell’s Creek.  Their logo says small batch and hand crafted which immediately tells a story that sets out some key aspects of their philosophy.  

Looking around the Taproom, you see that many of the furnishings and decorative objects have a welcoming, comfy feel. Jacqueline explains  that all are recycled with many sourced courtesy of The Salvage Yard in Castlemaine. The beautiful timber of the bar and  the interior and exterior  benches were once the lanes of bowling alleys.  They feel smooth to touch and add to the earthy feel of the space. 

If you look further you  see tropical plants adorning the bar, children’s art on the walls, adding a family touch and a calendar of upcoming events on the wall near the back exit.  A red theatrical curtain takes your eye to the brewery beyond with its shining vats and pipes.  Outside, patrons enjoy the brews at tables and chairs, under the shade of a vigorous ornamental grapevine.

Jacqueline believes that change starts with the individual. She explained that when she was little her parents taught her to be mindful of energy use. When feeling cold, they didn’t turn up the heat. They put on a jumper. And in her teens she became a vegetarian after reading Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation.

Living within the Mill’s precinct, Jacqueline and Doug are entirely supportive of Phil McConachy’s initiatives, which sees the roofs lined with 200 solar panels. Check out the video on the home page to see what Phil has accomplished at The Mill. 

Their philosophy has always been to live in a way that has a low impact on the earth.  Together in their own home, they installed solar panels long before they became mainstream. And they don’t buy new clothes. What they wear is entirely sourced from Op Shops. 

Energy wise their sustainable story continues into the business. 

The fridge, that houses some of the drinks, comes thanks to the State government offer to replace stand alone fridges with free, energy efficient ones. Traveling back and forth they drive an Electric car and in fact Doug used to work for Blade Ev, early pioneers of electric batteries. 

However, beer brewing is resource intensive. And unfortunately in this industry there is no escaping some plastic use. Palettes come wrapped in plastic, as do bags of grain. 

So to counteract this, they minimise their waste. Evidence of this can be seen everywhere you look. From the combined Tap Room, brewery and kitchen, their wheelie bins are never full. They compost what they can from the kitchen. They recycle everything. They even stockpile and compress their soft plastics, waiting till the problem of their disposal has been solved. 

They use their own packaging containers for the beer and allow customers to return them afterwards to be reused. And as soon as the container initiative was put in place by the Victorian State Government they signed up immediately. 

Establishing partnerships with local producers is very important to them. Shedshaker beer is made on site and all alcohol, except zero alcohol products, are locally produced.  Cider from Harcourt, spirits from Harcourt and Kyneton, soft drinks from Hepburn line the shelves. They support local businesses such as Long Paddock and Sprout Bakery for their cheeses and bread. Both these businesses are located at The Mill.

Shedshaker is also well known for its generous support of community events, including a recent one of our own MANZWG events, where we showcased videos of the sustainable achievements of The Mill and Mostyn St Medical Clinic.  For all events they serve the drinks using glasses that are washable and totally avoid using disposables. 

Jacqueline and Doug’s  plans are exciting. They are moving to the newly roofed area to the left of the Vintage Bazaar at the Mill, which will give them more room to expand. There they will have a bigger kitchen and plan to include an Italian restaurant on the site. 

We wish them well!