Two uni mates are behind Resin Brewing, set to open in Bulli, south of Sydney, next month.
Resin has been founded by environmental consultants Brendan Dowd and Steven House – homebrewers who wanted a change of pace.
“That last 5 per cent of the build seems to drag on longer than everything before it. But we’re nearly there,” said Dowd.
The pair have been friends for decades, after a serendipitous meeting while at university.
“Steve and I met probably 20-odd years ago on the surf one day. We were the only two guys out there and we just got chatting, then later in the day, an hour later, we both left the surf and I walked into my lecture at uni barefooted and covered in sand.
“I sat down right next to Steve, he was in the same lecture. We looked at each other and said ‘I know you!’ That’s where that started.”
After that the pair teamed up, and worked together at House’s environmental consultancy business, as well as homebrewing.
“We both just brewed since we were teenagers at varying levels here and there, stopping and starting,” said Dowd.
“We’d had enough of the consulting game and the dream was to start a brewery.”
Now, the dream has almost been realised.
“We’ve got 5,000 litres fermenting at the moment, so we’re close to being able to serve some beers, the construction work is 95 per cent done. We’re really excited, and nervous and anxious at the same time I guess,” said House.
“We’ve learnt a lot – we both come from environmental project management and planning backgrounds and so thought we’d have control of things, but there have been plenty of curve balls.”
Resin Brewing is located in a heritage building close to the Bulli train station, and House explained it was a fortuitous find.
“We were looking, sitting in our old offices thinking about starting a brewery and looking at places to go, in an industrial area. They looked like they weren’t going to work out, but this building was on our target list,” he explained.
“It was owned by Woolworths at the time. I rang up the switchboard of Woolworths and got put through to the property people who said they’d actually like to sell it, so we bought it from them off market.”
The site is heritage listed and was originally built in 1887.
“We embarked on a big restoration project and put a new building in housing the brewery out the back of it. The building took a year, it was probably a year of design and approvals before that, and a couple of years of dreaming before that.”
But it turned out that the heritage building wasn’t the biggest issue for the team.
“It was challenging,” explained House, “But to be honest it turns out it was a bit of a blessing in disguise. It upped the level of engagement we needed with the council because they were quite passionate about the building, as were we.
“In the end, when they realised we were committed to the restoration they were really supportive and worked out in our favour,” he explained.
“The heritage bit is ready to go, but nothing else is!” Dowd said.
The Resin team will be brewing on a Spark Breweries 10hL two-vessel gas-fired brewhouse.
“There are a few little things we’re still working through but that’s to be expected,” Dowd said.
One thing they’d learned is that sometimes it’s the unexpected issues that cause the biggest problems.
“You don’t always get the amount of power you want, we knew we’d have to upgrade but turned out we couldn’t upgrade because of flooding and heritage constraints. We’ve had to import a gas cogeneration plant from Japan to power the brewery.
“So we generate all our own electricity from this plant and the waste heat from the plant we use to heat the boiler.”
Dowd and House have been brewing on a 60L pilot system for a number of years, doing bling testings to help develop a lineup for the brewery.
“We always got a good broad cross section of drinkers, everyone from your craft beer lovers through to your VB drinkers to try our beers out,” House said.
“With the venue strategy, we think we do need to have beers, at least one or two, that are a bit less challenging.
“So we’ve got a standard lager that will be available and a English Bitter which is quite approachable to a broad range of palates, and then some more exciting stuff with IPAs and double IPAs, and a really nice Rusian Imperial Stout.”
The venue will also have a full kitchen, bar and restaurant.
“[It will be] low and slow american style BBQ food with a twist,” explained Dowd.
The Resin team said they wanted to cater to the demographics around Bulli.
“They’ve changed a lot, it’s a good family area and we’re expecting to have a lot of families in the place.
“There are some other good breweries in Wollongong so we’re hoping to contribute to the area becoming a bit of a broader venue to come and check out all the craft beer down here,” said Dowd.
While the craft industry may be relatively young in their area, Dowd said that they had been inspired by the growth of the sector in the rest of the country.
“I’ve been drinking craft for 20 or 30 years and back in the day you had to go to a Belgian beer bar to get a Duvel.
“These days it’s so easy to get fresh craft beer which is better than anything you import from the states because it’s so fresh and ready to go, and now we get to drink it as fresh as possible, straight from the tank,” he said.
The team will be undertaking a number of soft openings in preparation for an official launch next month.
Resin Brewing is located at 8 Station St, Bulli NSW 2516.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.