In June 2014 I read about a Husband and Wife team that were starting a Micro-brewery in Mona Vale on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Craft beer had been scarce this far up the peninsular so I was both excited and scared for the longevity of their project. Were there really enough people who would visit a venue just because it had great local fresh craft beer?
Modus Operandi (MO) doesn’t boast the ideal location to get noticed or gain any passing trade. They are nestled in a back street industrial unit that has been lovingly and superbly renovated into an industrial chic brewpub and since they first opened their giant roller door to the public they’ve had a steady stream of locals and visitors, with word of mouth and great reviews helping that number increase daily to the point where now the venue is packed to the rafters on weekends, literally, as they have an upstairs section in the building.
Day one customers had the choice of 7 beers: Cream ale, pale ale, porter, two IPAs and two saisons, less than 12 months on that’s increased to 12. Plus a few seasonal brews that came and went. No mean feat for Head Brewer DJ McCready who not only left his senior brewing job at Oskar Blues and moved half way round the world from North Carolina, USA but had to juggle the “newness” and stress of relocating with running a brand new brewery. But he seemingly took it all in his stride as I’ve never seen DJ without a massive smile on his face and that smile got a whole lot bigger just 3 months in to the project when, On October 24th at the Giant Dwarf Theatre in Redfern, Modus Operandi were called up to collect a Trophy for Australia’s Best Amber/Dark Ale. Then they just kept coming…Best IPA, Champion Small Brewery followed by the major gong, Champion Australian Craft Beer for their Former Tenant Red IPA. Did I mention this was after only 3 months!
But at MO they believe in more than just a great beer. They believe in building a community that harks back to the good old days when the pub was a real social setting and people mingled and knew everyone at their “local” including the landlords and boy have they done a great job of achieving this. Jaz and Grant haven’t just opened a brewery to sit back and watch they are genuinely interested in what they have created and regularly serve at the bar and love talking to customers, just how landlords used to be and should be. It’s a place that has a real community vibe, a place to bring your family, friends, kiddies and even dogs…yes MO is a dog friendly establishment and they even have a brewery dog; a black Labrador called Stout.
It’s become somewhat of a music venue too, regularly showcasing some really great local bands and musical artists all put on free for customers to enjoy along with the beer and great food. Yes, MO boasts a great kitchen too with beer and American inspired food including Burgers with every conceivable (or not conceivable sometimes) toppings, wings of varying heat, pizzas, ribs or a more sophisticated cheese platter. All in keeping with the MO motto Honest Local Fresh the only thing not made in the kitchen is the cheese.
My worry that people may not come this far up the Peninsular has gone. They are coming in droves and returning regularly weather to sit and savour, fill up their growler or buy one of their state of the art CANimals, a one-use, recyclable 946mL can that is filled and seamed at the bar, the first of its kind in Australia. With Demand for MO beer at their brewpub and at venues throughout Australia is now so high that they have 4 new fermenters and Jaz, Grant and DJ are so busy the next challenge is keeping up with that demand. I can’t wait to see what year 2 brings.
by Alison Brooker