In an effort to promote some of our favourite Illawarra breweries, we’ve had to put in the hard yards and sample some of the best brews the region has to offer. We can confidently report that these locally produced ales are up there with any of the top craft beers you can find. Now it’s your turn to support the local guys by heading out and sampling some of their fantastic brews for yourself!
Reub Goldberg Brewing Machine
Reub Goldberg Brewing Machine is a small venue located in Tarrawanna, a tiny suburb 10 minutes north of Wollongong. The Reub Goldberg Brewing Machine aims to be a hub for the community to come together, where locals can go to feel like they’re part of something special. Reub is bringing back that old village pub feel.
Established in 2018, and run by self-confessed beer nerds Anna Suthers and Billy Barneston, RGBM brews small-batch beers in their specifically designed, manually focused brew machine. The finer parts of the brew machine design were the result of their epic initial research and development trip, the aptly named “Bike to Brewery”. This ale-fuelled adventure involved drinking countless beers and visiting over 150 breweries on a bicycle trip that covered 10,000 kilometres from Alaska to Mexico and Costa Rica!
The artwork that features heavily representing their brand was born on this crazy bicycle trip. The original Reub Goldberg logo features hops as his beard, but stay tuned because he evolves ever so slightly to represent the different beers or events at RGBM.
What’s the name about, you might ask? Named after Reub Goldberg, a cartoonist famous for drawing very complicated machines that eventually achieve a very simple task. This concept depicts well what can happen in the home-brew game, as homebrewers often make up very intricate contraptions as part of the process. The brewing machine that these guys use has a very hands-on feel for the brewer and allows them to tweak the recipe and process as required. As keen sports fans, they’ve included a sneaky tribute to acknowledge their ideology of equality in sport – their fermentation tanks are named after some of the greatest female athletes of our time.
Minimising their environmental impact is very important at RGBM. The business has been using solar since 2020 and tries to produce minimal landfill, choosing well-sourced, environmentally friendly, and local ingredients where they can. Their spent grain is passed on to local farmers to feed their stock. Trub, (which is used hop and yeast waste), is reused in permaculture and their water is recycled as many times as possible before being treated and discharged. RGBM reuse grain bags and are always looking for new ways to make less of a footprint on the environment. All this effort to help save the planet makes us love them even more!
Because their beers are made in small batches, you’ll get to try a variety of new beers on rotation. They’ve got everything from lagers to IPA’s to dark ales and more. Open Thursday to Sunday from 12pm, with Happy Hour every day from 2 until 4 pm and food is available from Gringa Taco Bar. Mexican food and beer? We don’t need to bicycle our way through Mexico to know that these two things are best friends! What more could you want? All we could come up with was a slightly bigger venue so you can bring more of your mates to enjoy it and guess what? This is something these guys are working hard on behind the scenes, so watch this space…
Resin is located in the Old Bulli railway guest house, which was built in 1887 by Roger and Sarah Heard to coincide with the opening of the new Wollongong railway line. The building provided accommodation for tourists and also served food and drinks. The story goes that Sarah served the Governor of NSW, Charles Robert Carrington on the inaugural train trip. On the way back, he insisted the train be stopped to thank her for the quality of his meal.
After the Heards, it became a residential building until 2006 and then became derelict and was victim to vandalism, termites, and several arson attacks. The building sat in this run-down, neglected state until the boys from Resin bought the site in 2017 and rebuilt it with love to become the place we know and enjoy today. The Resin crew tell us that many of their patrons love to share stories of how their grandparents and great-grandparents used to live in the building. These fond memories and local folklore add to the wonderful character of the building which features some of its rich history mixed with a modern-day feel. We think the two long years of hard work that went into renovating the property was definitely worth the wait and the guys have done a fantastic job.
Steve House and Brendan Dowd met while surfing one morning at Stanmore Park. They spent a good hour chatting and sharing waves before going their separate ways. Fast forward an hour and they bumped into each other at the same university lecture, barefoot and sandy-toed. The guys ended up sitting next to each other and have been friends ever since. Prior to teaming up to build Resin, they worked together for 20 years as environmental consultants, both with a keen interest in home-brewing, having received a wealth of knowledge from Brendan’s grandfather.
Once they decided they’d outgrown their garage home-brew setups, the idea of Resin was born. The name Resin comes from the things that bring these two mates together – when making a surfboard, resin is used to bond the cloth to the foam blank and when making beer, it’s the resin in the hops that gives the beer its unique aroma and bitter taste. The name simply made sense!
As well as their beers on tap, Resin also sell their brews in the prettiest cans that I’ve ever seen, which perfectly seem to reflect the personality of each individual beer. Letitia Prince from Brandsome is the clever lady responsible for these designs. Thanks, Letitia – they look fantastic! My personal favourite is the Sundown Sour. Described as a sour mango beer, it is inspired by Brendon’s love of mango Weis Bars. That’s not exactly how I would describe it… way more sour, kind of creamy, and a bit less like beer than I expected. Bloody delicious!
Resin does small batch brews of 1000 litres at a time. Their best-sellers are their sour beers and the Resinate IPA, their first-ever brew at Resin. At this time of year, they highly recommend trying the 8 Shades Imperial Stout while getting cosy in front of their restored fireplaces. That sounds like a fantastic idea… with great food on the menu and regular live music, it’s time to grab your mates and get down there. What are you waiting for?
Bass Point Brewing Co
Dan and Brendon James have been brewing for about 20 years and have a passion for developing and playing with styles and recipes. They particularly love seasonal and specialty beers and can’t wait to introduce more of these over the next couple of years. The James brothers have always loved the craft beer scene and are really impressed by what is happening across Australia and particularly in the Illawarra and on the South Coast.
“We both live in Shellharbour and last year we decided to upscale our brewing and bring our first beer, the ‘Maloneys Bay’ Pale Ale to market. This was something we had always talked about doing and we were really excited to see one of our beers out there for the public to try. The reception was so great and the locals really got behind the beer as well as getting great support from local businesses”
Although the project has been in the works for many years, Bass Point Brewing only launched its first beer in June last year.“We have been humbled by the support and reception we have received for our beers from the people of Shellharbour and more broadly across the Illawarra.”
Since the launch of their first beer, they have steadily increased their range to include:
- Maloneys Bay – PALE ALE
- Beaky Cove – NEIPA
- Bushrangers Bay – DARK LAGER
- The Shallows – PILSENER
- Pikies – PACIFIC ALE
- Red Sands – RED IPA
- Boston Point – CHOCOLATE STOUT
Brendon and Dan have always enjoyed brewing and for as long as they can remember it’s been part of their lives. Unsure of what first got them into it, perhaps just a love of making beer;
“ I suppose we were just keen to try it ourselves on very basic equipment at first and slowly improved our process and setup.”
Although Bass Point Brewing doesn’t have a tap house or brewery open to the public just yet, it is certainly something they are working on. For now, the focus so far has been on refining their recipes and developing a range of core beers and a few Seasonal or Specialty Varieties for everyone to enjoy.
Proud of being local, all their beers are named after locations around the iconic Bass Point and their logo has taken inspiration from the gravel loader that can be seen as you drive towards the Bass Point reserve. “We love spending time with family and friends around Bass Point so it was easy to take inspiration from this location when coming up with our brand. We love the idea of our beer being associated with Shellharbour and something a local can easily recognise and enjoy when they want to drink a Shellharbour based beer.”
Where can you find these beers in the Illawarra?
If you’d like to try some of what the boys at Bass Point Brewing have been working on, you can find their beers at:
- Manning Street Cellars, Kiama
- Links Tavern, Shell Cove
- Georgia Rose, Shell Cove
- Kangaroo Valley Fine Wines and Craft Ales
- Charlies Liquor Barn
- Cordueax Bottleueax
- Cringila Cellars, Cringila
- Fiver Islands Hotel, Cringila
- Badu Bar and Eatery, Shellharbour Village
- Bellambi Pub & Bottleshop, Bellambi
- Regal Cellars, Albion Park
- His Boy Elroy (occasionally on tap)
- Albion Park Cellars, Albion Park
- Miss Arda, Kiama
- Lake Illawarra Hotel, Lake Illawarra
- Cronins Bottleshop, Gerrigong
- Shellharbour Club, Shellharbour
Coal Coast Brewing Co.
Coal Coast Brewing Co. is an Austinmer based beer company founded in 2018 by locals Kelly and Michael Carey. When we caught up with Kelly, she was clear that the brand was never developed because they wanted to become beer moguls. She explained “We had been living in Austi for 4 or so years and I was ready to wrap up working within the Sydney media industry and commit to investing in the local economy.’
Inspired by the landscape and local history it didn’t take long before they had a strong idea of what they wanted to develop. Kelly explains “Residing here you can’t help but be mesmerised by the towering escarpment and the raw power of the ocean.”
Many stories at the turn of the century were centralised around the industries of mining and maritime. Those stories are integral to local identity and we were concerned that if we didn’t find a way to keep telling them, then they would be lost forever. The challenge was how do we take a yarn with an older resident at the local pub or at Austi ocean pools and make it immortal? “Our mission was to create a legacy brand that held a light to these stories. The challenging part was to find a vehicle to do this that was popular and easy to transfer. We landed on beer as it acts as a form of social currency. The cans carry the stories and act as the storyteller.”
The company kicked off in 2018 with the launch of their first brew, the PIT PONY Pale Ale, in honour of the stoic and faithful companion of the coal miners of yesteryear.
This was followed soon after by ODE TO AMY Common Ale, named after the Brig Amy coal carrier shipwreck that lies beneath the waves in front of Thirroul surf club and has a monument erected in its memory in the carpark.
The third brew, MINERS LAMP Lager, is to honour the non-patented design by an Illawarra local for a lamp for underground that revolutionised Miner’s safety before electric headlamps were introduced.
All three brews have experienced a strong level of popularity both within and outside of the Coal Coast postcode. However when asked about expansion plans, Kelly says they’re clear on their purpose and mission.
“We are not a trend-setting beer brand. That’s not what we are about and never will be. We make beer that is simple, yet flavoursome, easy drinking and honest. We also want our stockists and venues to find it easy to sell as it doesn’t polarise any beer drinker.”
She continues “Whilst we created CCBC, we feel like custodians for communicating something bigger. A sense of local identity and pride is attached to the pick and anchor in our logo. They are symbolic of the industries and the people that pioneered them and continue to do so in our community.”
With two young children and Michael still teaching, the busy family executed Phase 2 of their plan and opened a local venue, The Jetty in March 2019. Riding out two pandemic shut-downs and a catastrophic weather event in July last year, where they lost their ‘week old’ iconic white dome roof, they have bounced back as one of the area’s most popular outdoor venues.
The venue operates Friday to Saturday bringing a new food truck every day, combined with local and regional suppliers of wine, cider, kombucha, grazing boards, and craft beer in addition to CCBC on tap.
Kelly explains, “The Jetty is fun. It was designed to be an outdoor destination post covid for people to socialise again, against the backdrop of the escarpment, enjoying local food, drink, and entertainment”.
“We are very proud of what we have created. We have never been challenged harder in our lives thanks to Covid and the weather. It has made us more resilient than we thought possible. However, we have had the most incredible support from locals, suppliers, friends, and complete strangers who have supported us in so many ways. We will forever be grateful to this community and we often pinch ourselves that we get to live and work right here on the Coal Coast.”
Illawarra’s best breweries: The Verdict
The best part about getting to know some of these local legends is learning the motivations and the stories behind their inception. With the Illawarra food and beverage scene constantly expanding we are spoilt for choice when it comes to local breweries.
It’s a hard job sometimes, but someone’s got to do it… We’ve sampled some of the best food trucks in the Illawarra and now some of our region’s best local breweries. The question is now, do we move on to distilleries, or try to balance it all out by trying some of the local gyms out?