Nine months after plans for its Newcastle site were submitted, Modus Operandi Brewing has officially been given the green light.
The Merewether venue, which was approved by Newcastle Council on Tuesday (18th August), will have a capacity of 300 and include a major production brewery to assist MO growth plans.
Grant Wearin, who co-founded Modus Operandi with wife Jaz in 2014, said that while COVID-19 didn’t help move the project along, the Modus team worked with the council to get the development approved.
“It’s been trying at times and maybe COVID stretched it out, but we’ve worked closely with the council throughout the whole process.
“First and foremost it’s our production brewery, with capacity many multiple times what we can do out of our brewpub facility in Mona Vale. It relieves a lot of production pressure, but we also want it to be a facility people can enjoy.
“We’ve outgrown Mona Vale and we would have had this site up and running years ago had some things gone our way, we had a bit of bad luck missing out on properties.
“It feels like now it’s all a bit fateful, we’ve got a primo site now that can really ramp up production and it’s in the heart of the the community in a place which is close to our hearts.”
Modus brewing operations
Matt Hogan, formerly the head brewer at Hope Estate, will be taking over as general manager at the facility.
“We want to be part of the community and look after everyone and provide a space first and foremost for the community and family,” Hogan said.
Grant said they have been working closely together on plans for the site.
“Having Matt’s experience from a business point of view is critical for us. He’s gone from brewing no beer having worked in wine to being in a major production facility [in his career prior], and his beers taste awesome.”
The installation of Modus’ new kit, a 40hL, three-vessel Bespoke Brewing Solutions brewery, is imminent. Automation processes are being delivered through Deacam and MO Newcastle will also have a Cody canning line as well as a keg washer and filler.
Hogan said he was keen to get brewing.
“We’ve talked about doing a beer with vibes of Newcastle – a local brew of sorts, just something for the locals,” he explained.
Grant said that they were working on a few surprise new limited releases, helped in no small part to the brewkit.
“The kit lends itself not only to producing volume but also flexibility,” Wearin said.
“What’s exciting is that we have always had one of the bigger limited release programmes and we’ve broken a lot of ground with beers we’ve released nationally and that will continue, but you’ve not even seen half of what we can do.
“After committing to a national range in a brewery the size of a broom closet, it will open up so much more for what we’re able to do.”
Another key element of the site will be sustainability.
“Jaz and Grant have always been big on sustainability,” explained Hogan.
“Mona Vale is 100 per cent green power, so continuing that vibe on with Merewether was something we were always going to do.
“Solar will play a part, as energy prices will continue to go up so we’ll make sure we’re as green as we can be.”
Another ‘green’ element will be applied in the construction phase, explained Grant.
Brough from bushfire-affected areas where the soil is no longer fertile.
“We’ll be taking that out of bushfire-affected farming areas and replace that carbon-heavy unusable soil and replace it with fertile soil for them, and using that earth as a bit of time stamp to recognise the bushfires and build a brewery out of it. It’s very environmentally friendly and helps out those guys as well.”
Grant, Jaz and Archer Wearin have all moved to Newcastle to oversee the plans, which they hope will be complete by the end of the year.
“[We want to have the project finished] as quickly as possible, but as with any new construction there is bound to be a hold up.
“We’re hoping to open before the end of the year, ideally, but that might be pushing it hard considering the climate around COVID,” Wearin said.
Matt Hogan also said that elements of the brewkit design may take longer than a standard brewkit model to implement.
“Having built one in the past, particularly one of this scale is [open to delays], given the level of electrical automation and technology going into it. It’s not your standard brewpub kit going in, so there is a higher level of technical expertise going into it which may take longer.”
Overall the team were excited and optimistic to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It will be bloody cool. We’re absolutely pumped to be able to announce it,” said Wearin.
“It’s been a long time in the making, it’s definitely not been an overnight project. It’s been a lot of time effort and planning that’s gone into the execution of the brewery.
“It’s important in terms of coming out of COVID – the first half of 2020 was awful and we created many jobs up here, showing the confidence we have in the community, who have always loved Modus and support us. To do a project of this scale in Newcastle is truly exciting,” he finished.