THE founders of Bailey Brewing Co, a new Swan Valley brewery set to open late spring 2020, are researching the history of their property to ensure the local stories of the area continue to be shared and celebrated.
After several years of homebrewing, brothers Steven and Daniel Bailey and their father Geoff purchased the 10-acre block on the intersection of Park and West Swan Road late last year to realise their dream of building a brewery.
It will offer a capacity of 250 people when completed.
"When the previous owners, Peter and Amanda Lyndon-James, purchased the block back in 2007 they discovered that one of the sheds was full of interesting old items - tools, books, lamps, maps and even some vintage beekeeping equipment," Steven Bailey said.
"Peter moved it all from the property to his house for safekeeping and when we were buying the place from him he invited us over to take a look at it all."
The eclectic collection sparked interest in the three founders of the company who wanted to know more about the history of their site.
"We learnt that the items in the shed had belonged to another past owner - a local beekeeper known as Toppy Geer," Mr Bailey said.
"So, we started our search there."
Reaching out to local beekeepers and beekeeping associations, they struck gold when they were sent a profile on Toppy written for Bee Informed magazine.
It gave them insight into the property's former owner.
Alton 'Toppy' Geer was a renowned WA beekeeper and a resident of the Swan Valley for more than 38 years.
As a child he was always on the move which led to the affectionate nickname 'Top Gear' or 'Toppy'.
He grew up in Northam and East Guildford and worked for WA Railways in both the Traffic and Civil Engineering branches.
It was during his railway career that Toppy first became involved with beekeeping.
Upon retiring in 1978 he opened a honey shop at his Middle Swan property.
A lifelong collector, Toppy had planned to build a shop extension to display it all - particularly his prized collection of vintage tools.
Many of the old cars he collected remain on the site and Bailey Brewing Co plans to repurpose them in their playground.
The Baileys have enjoyed learning about the life of Toppy Geer and intend to keep his memory alive at their brewery.
"Bailey Brewing Co is a part of the Swan Valley community and it's important that we do our bit to make sure the local history is preserved and remembered," Mr Bailey said.
"Peter & Amanda (Lyndon-James) have donated some items from Toppy's shed and we are hoping to use them around the brewery for decoration.
"Toppy's old cars will be used in our nature playground and we have also refurbished two of the original old cottages on the block, one of which, Toppy's old honey shop, will be the brewery's office."
The story of Toppy Geer also partly inspired the branding and philosophy of the brewery.
"Toppy's shed reminded us of the classic Aussie backyard with a wide verandah and the old man's tool shed tucked at the back," Mr Bailey said.
"We really liked that idea for Bailey Brewing Co because we want the brewery to feel like an extension of your family home.
"The dotted pattern you'll see in our branding is inspired by pegboard, which you often find on the walls of old sheds.
"The different shapes we use are a mix of tools, a bee for Toppy and key brewery items, like a beer glass."
Mr Bailey said their philosophy had always been to brew simple, sessionable beers that taste great.
"There are some inventive breweries out there experimenting with flavours and funny beer types like milkshake IPAs, which is great, but that's not what we want to do," he said.
"We want to brew good, classic beer that a guy like Toppy could have enjoyed after a long day tending to his bees.
"We actually might look at brewing a seasonal honey beer to celebrate Toppy too."
Bailey Brewing Co invites people who knew Toppy Geer to get in touch and share their story at info@bailey brewingco.com.au.
"It really feels like Toppy has become one of the team," Mr Bailey said.
"We'd love to learn more about him."
The brewery is under construction and is scheduled to open in late spring 2020.