The Wollongong region and beyond is becoming quite a hotspot for good beer.
There’s a strip of breweries from Resin Brewing through Reub Goldberg Brewing Machine, Illawarra Brewing, Dusty Lizard and Five Barrel through to Seeker Brewing, the newest who we wrote about as they were about to open last month. And lying smack bang in the middle of the strip you'll find Principle Brewing.
The creation of three locals who’ve been friends for years – Ian Logue, David Mason and Steve Lozenkovski – Principle sees them combine Ian's brewing skills from his time in a contract brewing facility and working under Wayward's Shaun Blissett, David's fine eye for a fine product (his time in the coffee industry included being certified to assess the quality of coffee, as well as grading and roasting coffee beans), as well as his experience in customer service and venue management, and Steve's business savvy and a passion for creating a long-lasting projects that’ll support the local community.
The original spark – or sparks – for Principle Brewing can be found in a few places. For Ian, it may have been the desire to make technically excellent beer. For David, it may have been the values that go into making a great product and running a business with integrity. For Steve, it may have been the adventure of running a community-minded small business alongside two friends with a big vision.
But the Principle team is greater than the sum of its parts, and together these three didn’t waste any time on running a brewery that aimed to be both big on quality and big on local community.
“Wollongong’s a funny town,” David says. “We do support local, but we still expect local to be quite good. We’re close enough to Sydney that there’s a good offering right there – if you’re not pulling your weight, you’re going to lose [customers]. Have to have that quality of product.”
Making beer they’re proud of – and that punters love to drink – was one of the founding principles of the brewery. A number of venues and bottleshops in the area jumped on board straight away, and from the early days the Principle team started seeing people around town wearing their merch.
The welcoming local community of like-minded brewers helped them fit right in too; from the day they opened, the Principle crew joined a group chat with the other brewers in the area and started going in on bulk orders of ingredients. And even though the strip of seven breweries may be slightly too spread out for a crawl, there’s always punters showing up from other breweries, enjoying a few schooners, then moving on to the next.
Of course, being one of a number of breweries is one thing, but having a recognisable and memorable brand is another. The clean, stripped-back design of Principle’s logo and cans is a way they hope to stand out from the crowd.
“I’ve always been less is more,” David says. “What do I remember? What’s familiar? If I see something in a fridge across a bar, how do I identify it?
“A bar is noisy, loud… sometimes you want it to be simple as hell.”
To find out more, we invited head brewer Ian Logue to join us for another edition of Who Brews...?
Who are you?
Myself (Ian Logue), David Mason and Steve Lozenkovski.
I’ve been brewing commercially for six years. I started working for BrewPack/Tribe for a number of years before heading over to Wayward Brewing Co for a short stint.
David was a legendary barista in Wollongong. He managed a handful of successful cafés; his hospitality experience adds up to over 16 years in the industry.
Steve has been a part of the local business scene in Wollongong for years. He’s jumped on board with this new brewery project as something new and refreshing to put his mark on.
Where do you brew?
Fairy Meadow – just north of Wollongong town centre.
Why do you brew?
I love brewing. It’s complicated, it’s technical, and it produces a wonderful product.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming brewers?
Years ago, before I started brewing professionally, I made a homebrew clone of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Somehow the final product of that homebrew wasn’t too far off the real thing. That moment really sparked something in me: I realised that brewing beer was something I wanted to do.
What's the inspiration behind the brewery name?
"Brewed by Principle, With Principle." We want to keep things pretty simple here.
I stick to the basic principles of brewing. That’s what keeps our beer clean and super drinkable.
The cellar door we set up on site of the brewery keeps the same idea. We kept the old building as original as we could. There’s exposed brick, there’s exposed timber rafters, there’s no bullshit. All happening in the background of the four-vessel brewhouse, it sets a great atmosphere for punters wanting to enjoy our product.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
That would be the pilsener. This style of beer you have to be technically perfect, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s rewarding brewing a beer like this: hitting all the brewhouse targets, starting and propping up the yeast culture correctly.
Getting everything to come together to get a beer that’s crisp, clean and balanced... I love it.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to head blasting from the speakers?
This is probably a bit embarrassing; I haven’t updated my playlist since 2008. So, it’ll be a lot of The Shins, Decemberists, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, etc...
What beers are in your fridge right now?
A large part of what I do is about keeping it local. If I’m buying beer, I try my best to get whatever is fresh coming out of the Illawarra. Right now, I have a growler full of Reub Goldberg Brewing Machine’s Tarrawanna Gold Export Lager.
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer that you'd like to explore further?
David: We're pretty excited to be kicking off our sour beer range very soon, so that is absorbing most of our creative juices at the moment.
What beers have you released to date?
- Hazy Pale 4.9%
- IPA 6.3%
- Pilsner 5.0%
- West Coast IPA 6.7%
- NEIPA 7.5%
- Dazey Double Hazy 9.0%
- XPA 4.2%
- Porter 5.2%
- Light 3.5%
Where can people find your beers?
We have our cellar door open here in Fairy Meadow from Wednesday to Sunday. We also have a few taps around the area, like Hotel Illawarra and Papi's Bar in Thirroul.
We have our first canning run happening next week, so look out in your local bottleshops soon.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Still right here in the Illawarra, hopefully with a little bit more space than we currently have.
Head in to Principle Brewing at 103 Princes Highway, Fairy Meadow, if you'd like to try their crisp, clean and balanced pilsener while listening to a playlist that hasn't changed in 20 years.