Despite how it appears, the guys at Resin Brewing didn’t pick that name because it’s a hop pun. Well, not entirely.
Business partners Brendan Dowd and Stephen House had known each other for around 25 years before deciding to set up a brewpub in the northern Illawarra suburb of Bulli. They’d sat in a pub one day going through names and Resin kept coming up – both for the obvious hop reference, but it also serves as a marker for where the pair met: out the back of the surf one stormy day in Stanwell Park.
“We were the only guys out in the surf and we got chatting,” Brendan says.
“When we finally paddled in, we said our goodbyes and said, ‘Might see you round’. Then, two hours later, Steve was sitting in the lecture theatre at Wollongong Uni, barefoot and sandy. I turned up and sat right next to him – we found out we were doing the same course.”
They both ended up as environmental scientists and, after a year of post-graduation travel, Brendan returned home to a job at the company his mate had set up.
After 20 years as environmental consultants, the slog got to be too much and they decided to turn their love of homebrewing into a business.
“I’ve been doing it since my grandfather taught me when I was 16 and Steve’s been doing it since he was in high school,” Brendan says. “We moved from kit brews in the early days when we were teenagers to brewing all-grain pretty quickly.
“Because Steve and I ended up working in the same company we ended up starting an office in Austinmer and living close to each other; we started all-grain brewing on the weekend together, so that sparked things off again.”
After a couple of years of talking about it, they bit the bullet and ended up finding the perfect location for their brewpub – next to a train station with a big commuter car park and less than 20 metres from the highway and a bus stop.
When they decided to have a go at it, Steve waited all of a day before calling up Woolworths (who owned the site) to make an offer - one that was accepted. But the building itself initially left a bit to be desired.
Built in 1887, it served as a guesthouse for rail passengers before falling into disrepair. Since then, it tended to be used by local teens as a place for parties; they'd prise off the wooden boards hammered over the windows and climb inside.
The pair actually had to “evict” a few from the building before they could get to work renovating the place.
“There were three young kids in here about 10, 11 o’clock in the morning,” Brendan remembers. “They’d been in previous weekends and we’d been monitoring it, reboarding the windows. We’d gotten jack of that so we went and got better materials.
“Just before Steve started boarding up the back window where they’d been getting in and out, I thought, ‘I wonder if anyone’s in there now’. So I went through the front door and shouted, ‘If anyone’s in here you’d better get the hell out because this is going to be your tomb!’
“As I said that, Steve got pushed out of the way by a girl who went bolting out the back window. The two other kids said, ‘Let us out the front door’. I think they left their bong behind, too, which was a bit of a bummer for them.”
Once inside, Brendan and Steve were keen to retain as much of the historical character of the building as possible; removing all the timber, assessing it for termite damage, and then reusing as much as they could as well as repurposing some of the original bricks.
But a brewery also needs some new equipment; Resin have seven 1000 litre fermenters, with seven bright tanks perched on top. The aim is to connect the bright tanks to some of the ten taps at the bar, using kegs for the remaining three – and they plan to be making enough beer to keep those ten taps full.
As well as the beer, they’ve also opted to include a 200-seat restaurant, leaning towards a menu strong on American smoked meats. The idea to add the expense of a restaurant was because the pair have always been more attracted to brewpubs than breweries.
“From our experience, we’ve gone to a lot of breweries and I’ve enjoyed the destination breweries where you can sit down and have food and drink as well, rather then just going in to have beers and then leave to go somewhere else to get some food,” Brendan says.
“Locally, there’s a lot of demand for a good place to eat as well.”
Those locals will get to try that food – and the beer – soon. While looking to have the odd soft opening to iron out any kinks, they’re planning to have the doors open officially by the end of March.
Which might mean they’ll suddenly have a little less time to go surfing.
Last we heard, Brendan and Steve are hoping to kick off their regular trading hours – Wednesday to Sunday – this week (March 11) at 8 Station Street, Bulli. But maybe keep an eye on their Facebook page to be safe...
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