Ahead of Modus Brewing’s 10th anniversary celebration this weekend, we took the opportunity to chat with Co-Founder Grant Wearin about the origins of the brewery and his highlights from the past decade.

B&B: What initially inspired you to open a brewery?

Grant: It was purely a homebrewing habit gone wrong. Ha. Certainly, it was initially a passion project that morphed through years of growth into what it is today where we are absolutely proud of our community focus and our history of purposeful innovation.

Take our recent Ukrainian collab with Ten Men brewery, where we brewed a cracking Hazy Pale called ‘Can It’ to not only tip the hat to the futility of this war and stand behind Ukraine, but to also raise funds to help them rebuild their pack line. This inspired them to reach out to breweries across the world with that purpose which we began with them.

Another would be our partnership with our Modus Cerveza bottles campaign nationally supporting Rural-Aid and their support of farming communities across our country – these are the projects and initiatives, among plenty of community sponsorships that inspire us beyond beer and have a positive impact from our business.

B&B: What have been the highlights of the past 10 years?

Grant: There have been many but probably the most important two would be the growth we have seen in our people and what they have been able to help this business achieve throughout the years. Our team at 10 years is one of the sharpest groups in Australian brewing and across the board and we have a diverse business across brewing Modus and our Modus Mexican range with Cerveza and Tepache, no alcohol beer in NORT, and some really exciting stuff coming through in the new alc space, which keeps us young. I’d say this is where the team really stands up on the innovation front here. All the while we run two very different venues in Mona Vale and Newcastle seven days a week.

I’d say the second highlight was taking out Champion Australian Brewery for the third or fourth time and Jaz accepting the award while 35 weeks pregnant with our little boy – that was a very proud moment.

B&B: What have been the biggest challenges?

Grant: The last four years, beginning with the 2019 bushfires. We donated about $20k to that bushfire appeal in a single day’s trade in Feb 2020 only to roll into what was the next three years of craziness with the Covid pandemic. This was all while also building our larger brewery up in Newcastle through Covid. We didn’t lay off a single staff member through the pandemic, while also soldiering on with our Newcastle build. I do think only a business owner would understand how difficult that was, both emotionally and financially, on us but we hold our heads very high these days as a result.

B&B: How has Modus evolved over the past 10 years?

Grant: We’ve stayed true to our motto: Beer First. No Shortcuts. And that is what I believe has reflected in the recognition that we get, day in and day out for the quality of our products. The evolution would be reflected in a tour of what we can do in our latest brewery where we have the flexibility and capacity to brew and package almost anything in any package format, and that was born out of the view we took a long time ago that the market was overcrowded and saturated with beer in the first instance. We are seeing that rationalisation shake out now.

B&B: What is your best piece of advice for other independent brewers in today’s environment?

Grant: Stick to your knitting, celebrate your wins, and keep it simple. Perfect what you’re good at and ignore what you’re not.

B&B: And what advice do you have for anyone looking at a career in brewing?

Grant: Seek experience in all aspects of the industry. If you’re in production it would be learn how to serve customers, brew beer, package beer, perform Q&A on your beer, know how to use every piece of equipment in the brewery and go out on the road with your sales team – they’re harder days than you think. Similarly, if you’re in sales or venues it would be learn what goes on in brewing, packaging, planning and logistics so you can empathise with what a production team faces in the day to day. Get your hands dirty on the pack line and volunteer to help out production – double shift packaging days are hard yakka – try and do them. I think this is where our team is strongest now, it only took 10 years!

B&B: Do you have any favourite Modus beers from over the past 10 years?

Grant: It changes because we are spoilt. My favourite right now is our Modus Cerveza – it’ s a quality highly drinkable lager that I love out of a bottle. Brewing clear bottled lager takes extreme skill and commitment to quality, despite what your typical consumer may say about it. Jaz’s favourite remains our Silent Knight Porter and has done so for 10 years, although she snares plenty of Tepache’s our low cal four per cent brewed pineapple tipple. In saying that, we both love Hazy 3.5 and there is always this beer in the fridge – it’s mid-strength with juicy flavour, which who would’ve thought it given our launch with a range of six to eight per cent beers 10 years ago! Maybe we have learnt something over the years.

B&B: Have you noticed any new or emerging trends in what beers consumers are drinking?

Grant: I certainly have. The pointy end is getting pointier, and the base of the pyramid is broader.

B&B: What are your hopes for the next 12 months and beyond?

Grant: I hope for the industry’s sake that we can come out of these tough few years stronger and more collaborative, like the industry was 10 years ago.

I think all indie brewers are requesting more market access to tap and shelf opportunities and this can only be pressed upon by government bodies. It’s time for them to step-up. I think they do recognise the employment contribution our industry has but have yet to digest the next step of market access.

For Modus, we have spent the last 10 years learning, learning and learning, and to be honest, we feel like we are just hitting our straps. We are committed to our green initiatives, having used green energy from the start and multiple re-use, re-purpose initiatives. We are also really focused on our team’s welfare and are proud to now offer a 4.5 day working week after trialing this earlier in 2023.

We have absolutely matured as a company in recent years, and are looking forward to a future where breweries aren’t a flash in a pan and are instead seen as backbone of a community that are purposeful with their offerings. 

B&B: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Grant: Yes! We can’t sign this off without raising a glass and thanking our loyal customers from the bottom of our hearts. These customers are what make us turn up every day, even on the really tough days (or weeks, months, years even!). More than ever, aware drinkers can help by supporting family-owned brewers and those indie breweries that support others.

Shameless plug: Our partnership with Rural-Aid and our Cerveza bottles where we donate $1 for each case sold to help support regional farming communities is an example of many in our industry who exist for purpose. Next time you’re grabbing a slab, grab one that is purposeful in its actions and is greener in its carbon footprint. Thank you.

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