MERCURY SERIES - SUMMER DAZE
As one of the standout drinking establishments on the South Coast, the Illawarra Brewery is still a bit of a work in progress.
It's a haven for craft beer lovers as well as those who like the vibe and the view of the water.
And Illawarra Brewing Company (IBC) operations manager Dave McGrath says there has been a long transformation process since he and his father, Garry, took over there three years ago.
"We're still in a constant transition of out with the old and in with the new," Mr McGrath said.
"We're only now getting to the point where we've got the decor the way that we want it."
The main motivation for the revamp is to make the most of the Tasman Sea views, which bring a lot of customers down to the brewery over summer.
"The plan has always been to capitalise on the location and better utilisation of the terrace area," Mr McGrath said.
"I feel that we've done that now with the different seating configurations and the timbers."
Another aim is to make it "the home of craft beer in Wollongong". The bar already offers at least seven IBC beers on tap as well as three or four swinging taps for other breweries' beers.
But the plan is to double the number of taps - to 20 - so that beer lovers will be spoiled for choice.
Though the venue does still stock mainstream beer, both in the fridge and on tap, some IBC beers had started to outsell them, Mr McGrath said.
"We smash the bottled beers and now we're consistently beating the commercial beers on tap down there like your Carltons and Pure Blondes," Mr McGrath said.
"We've got at least two or three of our beers outselling them."
Demand for IBC beers is now so high that they've been forced to run in extra stock over the weekends to cope with demand.
That's because of one segment of the bar's target market: the craft beer fan.
"Certainly there is the craft beer connoisseur," Mr McGrath said of their target markets.
"We have craft beer drinkers coming back in flocks. It's also the 25-and-above market - a bit of a more mature crowd that comes down for the experience of being there and wants to drink fine wine and fine beers."
TOP 10 PUBS
Some of the best pubs and bars on the South Coast, as well as one or two from the Southern Highlands:
The Illawarra Brewery
Towradgi Beach Hotel
The Little Prince
The Grand at Kiama
The Bally at Balgownie
Burrawang Village Hotel
Imperial Hotel Bowral
Mount Kembla Village Hotel
What are your top summer activities, spots or experiences?