Gaining council approval for a brewery can prove immeasurably challenging but for two brewery owners on the New South Wales south coast, it’s been a cinch.
Co-founded by Bulli, pronounced bull-eye, locals Brendan Dowd and Steven House, Resin Brewing Co is currently under construction in an old, heritage listed station guesthouse.
Set out in a conservation plan, the building will be restored as close to its original state as possible.
The site had been purchased by Woolworths for demolition, to make way for an entry into its neighbouring building behind the guest house property.
Opposing the demolition, the local council managed to quickly heritage list the site. Once approved, the old Bulli guesthouse site was sold, much to council’s delight, to Dowd and House.
Dowd told Brews News that the entire approval process has been smooth sailing.
“The whole approval process was pretty quick, the council were really keen for it so they helped us along really and pretty much told us it was one of their quickest approvals they’ve done in the last 15 years,” Dowd explained.
“They’d been worried about the heritage house being burnt down by kids and things.”
Derelict for 15 years, the guesthouse had been used for illicit goings-on before Resin Brewing secured the site.
The old guesthouse sits to the front of the property and will house the cafe. The new brewery build will be housed towards the back of the property with strict stipulations and design elements that are sympathetic to the restoration of the old building.
“We’ve had to create a two-metre deep cellar for the fermentation vessels to fit in so that they’d fit because we’re stacking brights on top and we were restricted in the height of the new build in terms of heritage,” Dowd explained.
“So [the council] said yes you can build what you like out there and it will likely be approved but you can’t dominate the landscape, the heritage house has to have dominance.
“We basically had to sink a cellar down so we’ll have to pretty much climb down step ladders to get down to the floor of the fermentation vessels so it’s been a bit of a mission that way to work that out.
“It’s a pretty tight space so we’ve had to come up with a few ideas to make it work.”
Accompanying the brewery will be a brewpub bar, commercial kitchen, toilets and a large outdoor deck with an “interpretive” kids play area.
The 10hL two vessel brewhouse is on order from Spark Breweries and Distilleries along with seven 10hL fermenters and stacked bright tanks.
Dowd said that with a third of the restoration complete, he hopes to have the brewery delivered by June.
Despite space restrictions, Dowd said that the business plan has always been to serve-on-site through the brewpub with the possibility of draught sales to local venues exclusively.
“Our business plan for the first year to three is to serve-on-site only really… we’re not planning on packaging at this point,” he explained.
“If things take off and we get bigger we’ll have to consider that and then think about an industrial space and that type of thing.
“We didn’t want to be the industrial space brewery that was and people came out for that, we wanted to be that smaller brewpub that people come and enjoy the location and things like that.
“There are a few breweries in the Illawarra and they’re all industrial places and the feedback and my own feeling is that you miss a lot of customers being in those spaces and you need to focus on that wholesale thing if that’s what you’re doing and we just didn’t want to do that at this point.”
Like many brewery owners, Dowd made his start as a homebrewer and has been honing his craft for more than 25 years.
After purchasing a 60-litre pilot system about two years ago, Dowd said that he’s been refining recipes, along with his brewing apprentice House, and has about eight to 10 beers ready for the brewpub.
“We’ll have everything from a mild wit to a 12% abv Russian imperial stout,” he said.
Resin Brewing Co will join Five Barrels, Illawarra Brewing Co and Reub Goldberg Brewing Machine in the region.
Resin Brewing Co is located at 8 Station Street, Bulli, New South Wales.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries.
Read more: How to start a brewing company: Part One.