Modus Operandi Brewing Co. has opened its doors in Merewether for dine-in this week as the NSW lockdowns lifted.
Founders Jaz and Grant Wearin are feeling mixed emotions about finally opening up a brewery in the place where the concept for Modus was born.
“We have been looking for a site in Newcastle for a long time and we were really fortunate to find this site so quickly, as this is where Modus all started.
“It’s very very exciting and also a bit of a relief.
“You go through these things thinking ‘oh my god how will we get to the end?’ and to see those big doors finally opening is such a relief,” Jaz explained.
Like many brewers at the moment the Wearins faced some complex challenges throughout the process of opening.
“The DA process is always a little tricky especially in more built-up areas, we were very fortunate though to have worked well with the council,” she said.
“It has taken about a year from DA approval to now opening our doors, we were building for about 9 months.
“A few COVID-19 issues in terms of transit and getting in steel also gave us a few delays.”
The Merewether venue has a capacity of 300 people and is currently pouring from 36 taps. The site runs a 40hL, three-vessel Bespoke Brewing Solutions brewery.
Sustainability was also a major consideration in the planning and building of the brewpub.
“It’s something that has always been important to us.
“I grew up on a sheep farm and Grant grew up in the Blue Mountains, so nature has always been important to both of us.
“We have always been 100 per cent green energy and now having the flexibility to build from the ground up allowed us to implement solar power and recyclable materials.
“Interestingly our bathroom tiles are made from recycled shampoo bottles by Aspire Metro,” Jaz pointed out.
This approach to the building of the brewpub is part of how Modus wants to operate.
“We have always been about innovation, seven years ago we were considered the first to come out with 500ml cans, we’ve also innovated with the packaging and the gradients on our cans.
“When building the venue we took the same approach,” Jaz explained.
Modus Operandi has been brewing out of its Mona Vale brewery since 2014 yet increase in demand has meant it have outgrown this site.
The Merewether venue will allow Modus to increase its production and continue growth into the future.
“The site is a lot bigger, we have been capacity constrained for a long time now and having both the sites allows more flexibility in our brewing and to keep up with demand.
“We will be using both locations for brewing, but this site [Merewether] is 10 times the size,” Jaz explained.
The increase in production space will also allow the team to be more creative and try new things.
“This site allows us to get back into our limited program and start experimenting with some different beers,” Jaz detailed.
The Merewether brewery will also allow the team greater capacity to brew new releases.
“There will be a new product development coming out, released coming into the summer. A very new beer for us and it really aligns itself with some of the current trends we are seeing.
“Also being so close to the Hunter Valley region we have been in touch with some winery operators who are willing to offer us some barrels for some aged beers,” Jaz revealed.
Advice for other brewers
When asked about the key lessons that they have learnt and wisdom they can impart to other brewers, Jaz had one main piece of advice.
“Don’t do it during a pandemic!”
Like many brewers COVID-19 restrictions have taken their toll, thankfully these risks were mitigated and only caused minor delays.
“Delays with steel and transit delays with toll certainly affected us but no more than a few weeks delay,” she explained.
However, Jaz also touched on two key elements to consider when planning a brewpub: location and hospitality.
“It’s all well and good to open a brewery in an industrial area but Grant and I don’t seem to pick the easy street.
“We feel very strongly about the positioning of a brewery and are passionate about offering quality on the hospitality side of things.
“We want people to walk in and feel like they are a part of the Modus world, they can see the brewers working out back and the kitchen making their food. We put a lot of focus on quality.”
Modus Operandi Merewether is currently open at 20 Merewether St.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.