Modus Operandi Brewing has submitted plans for a new production and hospitality venue in Newcastle which will see the Sydney-based brewery triple production capacity.
Modus lodged a development application with the city council for a site in the Newcastle suburb of Merewether in December.
Grant Wearin, who founded Modus along with wife Jaz in 2014, said that the move to Newcastle was a long time coming.
“We looked at Newcastle six or seven years ago, that was where the original Modus was going to be. We looked at the Northern Beaches and Newcastle. We fell into the old weed growers property at Mona Vale, so that’s where Modus began.
“But [Newcastle is] an area we know well, and it’s an area that has always been on Modus’ mind.”
The Merewether suburb is also one that’s close to Wearin’s heart, and his family have previously put down roots there.
“My granddad had a shop up there for over a decade where he raised much of his family, in Merewether itself on the corner of Patrick Street.
“That’s two generations ago he was the general store manager up there. Needless to say my mum is pretty excited about having another ‘shop’ up there, as she calls it.”
The team have been looking for the perfect site for the past five years, but with business booming in Mona Vale, the immediate pressure was off and they could spend some time looking for the idea spot.
The Merewether Street site the team chose is close to central Newcastle, just metres away from the Townson Oval, opposite a major private hospital and not far from the beach, and was formerly home to a vehicle smash repairs and spray painting business.
“It’s very site specific what we’re trying to do, so we needed, similar to Mona Vale, a backdrop that goes with what we do,” explained Wearin.
“Being near the beach is important to us, being able to manufacture increasingly larger quantities of beer is important to us.
“This is what Newcastle will bring, and relieve a lot of the production pressure we have at Mona Vale, and also being able to offer what we hope will be a best-in-class hospitality operation as well.
“It’s a multifaceted business that we’re in and we need to go beyond just producing award-winning beers, we need to get the hospitality portion right and fill the production void that we currently face as well.”
Increasing production capacity was a major factor in choosing the site, to alleviate the pressure on its Sydney brewery.
“Our current production capacity is not enough, the Newcastle site will more than triple our total production capacity,” Wearin said.
“It’ll be a larger manufacturing footprint than Mona Vale, significantly larger. As we’ve grown, production demands grow and we’ll be looking to fill that out in Newcastle.
“So there will be a little bit of production come out of Mona Vale so we can return the hospitality side to where we need it to be there.”
Meanwhile hospitality will also be a focus, but how this looks will depend on local demands, he explained.
“We’re still to go through a lot of the regulatory hoops, we’ve got the innovative, big bold ideas but we need to get some stakeholder groups on par with us in order to achieve that.
“The hospitality side will be there no question, but to what extent, it largely depends on what the community needs and what we’re able to do.”
Modus is applying for an artisan food and drink premises use, which allows for a retail area for the sale of artisan craft food and drink, a cafe or restaurant, or facilities for holdings tastings, tours or workshops.
“It’s early stages but this is not our first rodeo, so largely we know what the trigger points are and we’re pretty comfortable with what we’re trying to do, but there are stakeholders and we’re trying to get the balance right for the community as well.
“When you look at the size of the site and our manufacturing footprint, that’s the right licence for us.”
He also said they would be continuing on with the values they have developed at their homebase.
“We want to be best-in-class in sustainability, we’re a 100 per cent green energy brewery and that will continue up in Newcastle, rain, hail or shine.
“The focus on the community aspect of brewing is even more important than ever in the face of what’s happened in the past two or three years, and we don’t take our position as an independent brewery lightly, it’s one that we value.
“All that applies down here in Mona Vale will continue to apply in Newcastle.”
Wearin explained that the ethos of the Newcastle brewing scene fit with Modus’ own very well.
“The Newcastle brewing community is an awesomely strong one and they really value top quality and independent beer up there and that certainly plays to Modus’ strengths as well.
“They’ve all paved the way for good beer in Australia. We’ve done our bit own here in Mona Vale as well and we see us positively being a part that already strong community up there in terms of good independent beer.
“I’m excited to be moving up there and helping with that.”