Five Islands Brewing Company
Started by local Illawarra rugby league legend Michael Bolt in 2001, the Five Islands Brewing Company has travelled a markedly different course to most other craft-beer enterprises. FIBC began life as a beachside bar and restaurant, serving tap beers pumped out of the inhouse microbrewery. Situated close to Wollongong’s major sports stadium and entertainment centre, the venue attracted a varied bunch of punters – mainly locals at weekends and a mixed bag depending on what event was being staged next door. In 2006 Bolt relocated the brewery equipment to a nearby warehouse, added an automatic bottling line and started distributing the company’s bottled beers to a wider market. As an extension of the expanded brewing business, FIBC started producing beer under contract for various clients. When the local council in its wisdom slashed the parking capacity outside the bar and local residents were making his trading conditions increasingly difficult, Bolt sold the bar/restaurant outlet in late 2008. But he continues to run the FIBC, producing keg beers under the FIBC label (the bottling line has gone), both for the original venue and a handful of other outlets; plus an additional range of tap beers, especially created and badged for his former venue’s new owners. The stand-alone brewery continues to attract new contract customers and the current head brewer is Andrew Gow, who previously worked at the Mountain Goat Brewery in Melbourne.
Fairly safe styles with an emphasis on easy drinking are typical, with a couple of more flavoursome brews in a smoked porter and a traditional black ale.
Five Islands Brewing Company Bulli Black
Behind the Label
The brewery takes its name from the five islands off the Wollongong coast and the fact that Five Islands was the name given to the Illawarra region by early European explorers. The area has several popular surfing breaks and the Longboard brand probably reflects owner Mick Bolt’s vintage (he was the foundation captain of the Illawarra Steelers back in the 1980s). FIBC Longboard is designed as an easy-drinking Belgian wit beer, one that a surfie might slam down after catching a few waves.
WIN Entertainment Centre, cnr Crown & Harbour sts, Wollongong 2500comments powered by Disqus