ORANGE man Toney Fitzgerald is committed to seeing kegs of Australia’s oldest new beer rolling out across the Central West next month.
Walkers Special Pale Ale is brewed from recipes dating back to the 1890s and the heyday of the Walkers Brewing Co in Orange and Bathurst.
Walkers was in business at a time when there were around 1000 micro breweries in operation across Australia and almost every town had its own local brand.
The brewing industry shrunk dramatically during the late 1900s but a boom in craft beers in the early 2000s is starting to turn the tide.
Mr Fitzgerald is the man behind the rebirth of Walkers Brewing Co and he is excited to see the first kegs of pale ale finally being prepared for sale.
He had hoped to relaunch the brand 12 months ago but two cancer battles meant he had to take time out to focus on his health.
“It tested me to the point where I nearly threw it all in but I’m a persistent bugger and I really needed that resilience to dig in,” he said.
“I got really frustrated after we made a big announcement in the papers 18 months ago and couldn’t get started but I had to put my health first.”
The first of the new Walkers kegs are being brewed in Sydney but Mr Fitzgerald’s long-term plan is to bring the brand back to its original home.
From 1895 to 1926 the company had breweries in Orange, Sydney and Bathurst.
In Walkers’ heyday from 1895 to 1926 the company had breweries in Orange, Sydney and Bathurst.
That later became the Bathurst home of Dairy Farmers but in recent years developers have razed all-but two buildings on the site.
One building still standing, though, is the original Walkers four-storey gravitational brewery and Mr Fitzgerald is in negotiations to return it to its former use.
But first he wants to get the pale ale into Central West pubs within weeks and Mr Fitzgerald is working on deals with a number of Bathurst and Orange hotels.
Next will come cartons of special ale and a new Walkers lager in bottle shops and Mr Fitzgerald’s head brewer Neil Cameron is also working on some recipes to surprise the market.
“People appreciate now that they have a choice when it comes to beer and that there are different flavours available,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“If they try something new they might be pleasantly surprised.”