Modus Operandi

When Modus Operandi opened in July 2014, it did so with little to no fanfare. Then, just three months later, in front of a packed house almost stunned into silence at the inaugural Craft Beer Industry Association Craft Beer Awards, its owners and brewer were invited to the stage to collect the trophy for Australia’s Best Amber/Dark Ale. Then the trophy for Best IPA. Then Champion Small Brewery. Then Champion Australian Craft Beer. Now, how does that happen?

The first significant part of the tale began when husband and wife Grant and Jaz Wearin travelled to America on an extended vacation, touring, working and drinking at every brewery their campervan would take them. It was a holiday mixed with R&D during which they studiously noted all the things that made breweries good and bad, then brought those ideas back to Sydney ready to open their own brewery.

Equally important was something (or someone) else they brought back in their luggage: a brewer named DJ McCready. Having cut his teeth at the iconic, can-pioneering Oskar Blues brewery, DJ was not only experienced but also up for the not insignificant challenge of moving halfway around the world to head a new brewery in Mona Vale – an area as renowned for good beer as his native North Carolina is for its balmy winters. Together, the three set about bringing the best of American craft beer to Australia.

One of the key things they highlighted was the old idea that first impressions go a long way. So, on day one, they launched with seven beers: cream ale, pale ale, porter, two IPAs and a couple of saisons – and all of them made to an excellent standard and ready to make a statement to whoever walked through their door. And that’s more or less how it has remained since, with that core range being supplemented by a diverse range of limited releases, anything from coffee lager to passionfruit saison and whiskey barrel-aged porter.

Yet, despite a beer list seemingly angled towards those experienced enough to sniff out the hop profile on an IPA at ten yards, that isn’t necessarily their target audience. They wanted their community – one hitherto hidden from the the joys of craft beer – to come and support what their little brewery was about; namely, keeping things honest, local and fresh. That means Modus Operandi isn’t necessarily all about the beer, but about creating a nice environment where you want to hang out with your friends or family. It’s about games of corn hole in the driveway, movie nights and live bands playing in front of the tanks. That and some damn good food.

Everything on the menu, you won’t be surprised to know, goes beautifully with beer. The hearty options go hand in hand with it: sticky ribs, pizza, buffalo wings and a burger dripping in so much decadence that you know you shouldn’t but couldn’t possibly refuse. Lighter options include the platter of cheese, bread, chutneys and lavosh where everything bar the cheese is made from scratch on site with their own beer as an ingredient. If you’re up for something a little more intense, you can order yourself a nice pint of bacon (yes, a pint glass full of bacon rind...), or take the Carolina reaper chilli buffalo wing challenge where, for the pleasure of consuming the world’s hottest chilli, you can earn yourself a couple of beers to douse the fire.

When you invariably decide on a favourite beer, you’re able to take it home fresh in one litre squealers, two litre growlers, or – in what was a first for Australia and second in the world – one litre cans. Called CANimals, these silver beauties are filled directly off the tap then sealed using a turn-of-the-century food sealer. In early 2016 they went one step further and installed a large scale canning line which spits out 500ml tinnies of their multi-award winning Modus Pale and Former Tenant IPA.

When the Wearins set out on their American adventure several years ago, their idea was to create a brewery that had the best of everything. With another former Oskar Blues alumni, Dennis de Boer, having taken charge of the brewery operations, their reputation has continued to soar, the brewpub is constantly packed and their trophy collection gets fatter after every major awards ceremony (their Champion Small Brewery win was followed by Champion Medium Brewery a year later) you'd have to say they've achieved it.

Nick O

Name
Modus Operandi
Address

14 Harkeith Street
Mona Vale
NSW 2103

Phone
(02) 8407 9864
Website
Regular events

Wed: Ping Pong + Pints
Thur: $10 burgers, $15 jugs & vinyl sets
Fri-Sun: Live music (see social media for lineup and times)

Hours

Wed-Sun: 12pm to 10pm

Tours

By appointment

Current Crafty Cabal offers

Free CANimal* with purchase of a tasting paddle

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Modus Operandi Regulars

Modus Operandi Sonic Prayer IPA

Tapped October 27th, 2015
Maybe it's the lingering effects of mid-90s forest parties or just the wantonly naive optimism upon which Crafty Towers is built (which are probably one and the same thing), but there's a growing sense that a Third Summer of Love could be nigh. It's several years overdue, after all, and the pieces are in place. On the one hand, the planet's in a terrible state, however you look at it, and most of those in a position to do anything significant about it are working actively to make things worse. On… Read more
Style
IPA
Strength
6.0%
Bitterness
Marshall Stack 11 IBU

Modus Operandi Pale Ale

Tapped August 21st, 2015
The adding of ‘y’ to the end of words is an endearing quirk of the Australian vernacular. Any name to which it’s applied immediately seems to become a little more informal, grounded and familiar; it must be nice walking into a room with a name like Barnesy, Warney or Hughesy – like you’re wearing a blanket of general acceptance. For foreigners though, it can take a while to catch onto the local dialect. So, as part of their steps towards further integration, the American brewers at the… Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
Strength
5.2%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Modus Operandi Kite Flyer Ale

This is a beer that almost never happened but, in a way, had to. When it opened, Modus Operandi was bringing craft beer to a population largely unfamiliar with fuller flavoured beer so they wanted - nay, needed - a beer to act as a gentle introduction and please the masses. But a gateway golden ale - the popular option for many brewers - just didn’t seem the right fit, so brewer DJ suggested a Cream Ale. This style of beer isn’t a common one in Australia and owner Grant reckoned it wouldn’t… Read more
Style
Cream Ale
Strength
4.8%

Modus Operandi Layback Aussie Ale

Summer ales have become quite de rigueur in recent years but Modus Operandi weren't just being dedicated followers of fashion when they launched their brewery with one on the menu. Originally released under the name Lola, it was a homage to The Kinks’ eponymous character and something that comes across all sweet and pretty but you find out it’s a little more, ahem, ‘robust’ than first expected – perhaps not even a summer ale at all. With a big blend of American hops, Lola was noticeably… Read more
Style
Summer Ale
Strength
4.5%

Modus Operandi MOFOS Saison

What’s up with this mofo? It’s the Modus Operandi Funky Orange Saison, of course. Along with the seasonal Pepper in the Rye, this was one of the brewery’s two original saisons and is the smaller of the two, thereby given the delicate title of ‘petite saison’. And that’s quite apt for a beer which is just 4.2 percent abv and designed to be a refreshing, yet flavourful, session ale. As something of a gentle introduction into the interesting world of the Belgian/French style beer, MOFOS… Read more
Style
Saison
Strength
4.2%

Modus Operandi Former Tenant Red IPA

What more do you need to say about the beer which was awarded Champion Australian Beer only three months after it was officially released? The Former Tenant is named for the former tenant of the site where the brewery now sits, a slightly unfortunate marijuana grower who was caught out when police were pursuing another criminal down the alley next to the brewery only for the police dog to pick up the weedy scent coming through the extractor. With hops and marijuana being famously close in botanical… Read more
Style
Red IPA
Strength
7.8%

Modus Operandi Silent Knight Porter

Edward Hallstrom, as we know from the story of the Zoo Feeder IPA, was a philanthropist of note. But giving requires a fortune first and Hallstrom got his by inventing a fridge called Silent Knight. Evidently the unit was cheap to buy so became very popular - thus the fortune - but was so astronomically expensive to run that Hallstrom actually came to an agreement with electricity suppliers to subsidise his customers’ running costs. Still, it’s an Aussie-made success story and having a beer named… Read more
Style
Porter
Strength
5.6%

Modus Operandi Specials

Modus Operandi Gadzooks & Tropical Contact High IPAs

Tapped September 18th, 2017
Pushing boundaries and experimentation are welcome features of the craft beer world. And, arguably, the one experiment to have been most widely tested by brewers in Australia in recent times is that of the New England IPA. In some quarters, the hazy, juice like style has been galvanising and, in others, polarising, but almost everywhere it has sparked curiosity. That’s certainly the case in Mona Vale where the Modus Operandi brewers have released several different versions of the style, each of… Read more
Style
New England IPAs
Strength
6.3% & 6.8%

Modus Operandi Triple Deity IPA

Tapped August 2nd, 2017
On the occasion of its third birthday, Modus Operandi officially joined the haze craze. Sure, they’d previously added some yeasty fuzz to a batch of XPA and partaken in some collaborative cloudiness down on the Yeast Coast, but this represented their first concerted solo push into the murky realms of the New England style IPA. It’s called the Triple Deity, it looks like the leftovers in the sink after you've cleaned a paintbrush and it tastes like a piece of citrus fruit bitten right off a tree.… Read more
Style
New England IPA
Strength
6.4%

Modus Operandi & Wheaty Brewing Corps & Fixation Yeast Coast IPA

Tapped August 1st, 2017
Like one of those supergroups that forms from time to time in the music world and bashes out a few great tunes before returning to their individual awesomeness, the crews from Modus Operandi, Fixation and the Wheaty Brewing Corps have brought the band back together for the Yeast Coast IPA. It’s a beer that’s been made before, starting out at a past Good Beer Wheaty in Adelaide and to which Chris White, from American yeast propagator White Labs, also added some crucial expertise. It was crucial… Read more
Style
New England IPA
Strength
6.6%
Bitterness
45 IBU

Modus Operandi Cascadian Howl

Tapped May 26th, 2017
Pretty well everyone knows by now that Modus Operandi makes a good hoppy beer. Their reputation has, for the main, been built upon that; look at the pile of trophies and awards their beers have gotten at competitions over the past three years and you’ll find it’s hoppy ones that are responsible for most of them. But the brewery is no one trick pony. Last year, for example, our NSW panel put forward their assortment of dark beers as some of the best new beers in the state. And, just last week,… Read more
Style
Black IPA
Strength
8.2%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

GABS Sydney

Good beer stores where you find MO beers

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Modus Operandi Lost Key XPA

Tapped February 10th, 2017
At the end of last year, our panel selecting their best new NSW beers of the year threw something of a curveball. Modus Operandi has, more than anything else, made its name on the back of a series of fine hop forward releases. Yet the panel chose to highlight the Mona Vale brewery's darker side. For the first limited run can release of 2017, however, it's back to their beloved little green flowers in the shape of Lost Key, an XPA first brewed with Black Bunny Kitchen from the Sunshine Coast late… Read more
Style
XPA
Strength
5.2%
Stockists

And many good beer outlets across NSW

Modus Operandi Haver IPA

Tapped September 29th, 2016
While they make tight beers across plenty of styles, Modus Operandi has undoubtedly built much of its fame from its hoppy beers. The recent announcement that they had retired their former trophy-winning IPA, Zoo Feeder, from the core range was met with disappointment by many, but the good news for lovers of Modus’ big hop bombs is that they’ve barely managed to go two weeks before releasing another one. This new beer has been brewed in collaboration with the team from The Dutch Trading Co.,… Read more
Style
IPA
Strength
7.4%

Modus Operandi Kiwi Kerfuffle In Brussels

Tapped August 26th, 2016
Despite the attention they get for their hoppy American beers, Modus Operandi has long had a thing for saisons – in fact, on day one of their brewery opening they poured two in the form of Pepper In The Rye and MOFOS, with more soon following. But the latest may well be their best yet. It’s called Kiwi Kerfuffles In Brussels and if you guessed that this means a Belgian saison yeast crossed with New Zealand hops, you’d be right. It throws out some bubblegum aromas at first but the big winner… Read more
Style
Hoppy Saison
Strength
7.2%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Modus Operandi Lager

Tapped August 6th, 2016
In something of a surprise move, Modus Operandi has brewed a lager. That’s not to say that they were ever lager-averse – in fact, considering the clientele around their Mona Vale home, you can imagine their locals would have been right into it from the beginning – but that they’ve had such a fast start to brewery life and their beers are in such healthy demand that you can’t image them having the capacity to let a lager sit around and take up valuable tank space. Yet they’ve decided to… Read more
Style
Lager
Strength
4.6%

Modus Operandi Caribbean Queen

Tapped July 27th, 2016
With such a successful start to life as a brewery, it’s hard to believe that Modus Operandi has only just turned two years old. But it is true, and has been marked with a birthday beer. A homage to Billy Ocean that sounds more like the name of a cruise ship, Modus’ birthday beer is a brown ale called Caribbean Queen. It’s something with roots in the equatorial islands, having had loads of coconut and milk chocolate added, and it’s the latter which has really come to the fore to create a… Read more
Style
Dark Ale
Strength
6.7%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Good beer venues in NSW

Modus Operandi Whippa Snipa

Tapped July 27th, 2016
If were to put the words "Modus Operandi" and "IPA" together in a sentence, logic would tend to send you towards either of their pair of multi award-winning American IPAs, Former Tenant and Zoo Feeder. But for something a little different and a little subtler, they’ve released a session IPA. For non-Aussies, Whippa Snipa is a local colloquialism for a weed whacker / weed eater and its inference here is of being a lawnmower beer, which is to say one you’ll be craving once you’re… Read more
Style
Session IPA
Strength
4.1%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Good beer venues around NSW

Modus Operandi MODJUICE

Tapped July 1st, 2016
Hot on the heels of plundering their hop stockpile for the multi-venue, simultaneously tapped, "fresh is best", CCC double IPA, the crew at Modus Operandi is balancing out the ledger with a spritely session IPA. And it’s something of a diametrically adjusted ale, seeing as it’s more of a summer style beer but one that’s been prepped for winter. You see, during flu season everyone is reaching for the vitamin C in the hope that it will help stave off the ill effects of the virus (although… Read more
Style
Health Beer
Strength
3.5%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Select NSW beer venues

Modus Operandi Escobar Stout

Tapped March 18th, 2016
After a couple of years dazzling people with their straight up hoppy IPAs, Modus Operandi has been quietly following a more esoteric path of late. First there was the Earthless-inspired Sonic Prayer IPA, then the Powcohicora-influenced Drupey One, now comes a stout made with yerba mate and named after everyone’s favourite pre-nineties moustachioed purveyor of illicit narcotics, Pablo Escobar. The beer is built on a traditional British oatmeal milk stout base of crystal and chocolate malts, but… Read more
Style
Oatmeal Stout
Strength
6.0%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Others TBC

Modus Operandi The Drupey One

Tapped March 3rd, 2016
The first new beer for Modus Operandi in 2016 is a bonafide autumn seasonal release, although not one directly inspired by the Australian version of autumn. Rather, its roots lie in the fall of the northern hemisphere which marks the onset of the pecan nut harvest. MO brewer Dennis, an American whom we can trust for such tidbits, says pecans are synonymous with autumn in the states and that the pecan is the only nut native to the USA; it was purportedly a major autumnal food source for Native Americans,… Read more
Style
Nut Brown Ale
Strength
4.5%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Modus Operandi Cream of the Hop #4

Tapped December 21st, 2015
The fourth and final Cream of the Hop release from Modus Operandi in 2015 seems to underline a change of direction for the series. Having begun mid-year as a way to showcase a single experimental hop, subsequent releases have gradually moved away from that idea and morphed into a wider in-house experimentation program. The one important constant still holding it all together is that all the Cream of the Hop beers use the same wheat-heavy grist as a base, though they’ve no longer restricted themselves… Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
Strength
5.6%
Stockists

Modus Operandi brewery

Modus Operandi Summer Saison

Tapped November 28th, 2015
From day one, it’s been clear that Modus Operandi don’t mind experimenting with a saison or three. Launching with the spicy Pepper in the Rye and ‘Funky Orange’ MOFOS, they’ve followed up with one made with passionfruit, one with honey and a sub four percent ABV, poetically licensed bastard pilsner blend named for Elton John’s exquisite Tiny Dancer. The sixth and latest is the Summer Saison. The idea here was to keep things pretty traditional and pretty French. To that end, they’ve… Read more
Style
Saison
Strength
4.0%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Others TBC

Modus Operandi Cream of the Hop #3

Tapped October 13th, 2015
Timed rather nicely for the onset of a spell of warm weather, Modus Operandi have released the third in their Cream of the Hop series. As with previous efforts, it’s built on a wheat pale ale base and has had experimental hops added. The first used the still-in-development Australian hop HPA35, the second used American Azacca and this third builds on that theme, but in a slightly more celestial sense, by using Equinox hops from the USA. Considering it’s a new hop to the people who brewed the… Read more
Style
Single Hop Pale Ale
Strength
5.6%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Modus Operandi 3.30 Coffee Lager

Tapped September 24th, 2015
Before Modus Operandi properly burst onto the beer scene towards the end of 2014, they’d been tinkering away for a few months in their Mona Vale brewery and honing their core range of beers. But filling the final, vacant tap space was a one-off release called 3:30, so named for the time (in the post meridian sense) that you might be dwelling on whether it was too late for a coffee or too early for a beer. It’s a “pivotal” point in the day, say the brewers, so the answer, clearly, was both:… Read more
Style
Coffee Lager
Strength
5.0%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Modus Operandi Cream of the Hop #2

Tapped August 21st, 2015
When Modus Operandi released their Cream of the Hop #1 in July, we were under the impression that it was going to be an annual brew and we wouldn’t see the follow-up until 2016. Considering that it’s only August and they’re releasing Cream of the Hop #2, we were apparently rather mistaken. The idea of this series is to use the same base beer each time but showcase a different, experimental hop. Far from being a way to trial only the latest Australian grown hops – as was the case in COTH… Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
Strength
5.6%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Modus Operandi Total Eclipse

Tapped July 25th, 2015
To help them reflect on the best of the year just gone (and it has been a rather good one), for their first birthday the team at Modus Operandi are tapping a special treat in the form of a Russian Imperial Stout. Or, rather, two of them. The original beer was brewed six months previous before being divided in two, with some going into Bimbadgen Estate port barrels and some going into Lark distillery whiskey barrels. Having been torn apart, left sitting around for six months, wondering what to do… Read more
Style
Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout
Strength
9.5%
Stockists

Modus Operandi

Archive Beer Boutique

Modus Operandi Cream of the Hop #1

Tapped July 23rd, 2015
Modus Operandi have garnered themselves quite the reputation when it comes to hoppy beers. Thus far that’s largely been thanks to brewer DJ McCready who, having brought his experience working in the comparatively advanced US beer scene, has been creating recipes that manage to balance in-your-face American flavour and flair like a stilt walking, stars and stripes adorned Abe Lincoln mascot. But the brewery’s latest one-off is something of a departure from the norm, not because they’ve shied… Read more
Style
Australian Pale Ale
Strength
5.6%
Stockists

Modus Operandi

Collaroy Beach Club

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Modus Operandi Black Lab Milk Stout

Tapped June 26th, 2015
If you’ve ever popped up to the Modus Operandi brewery in Mona Vale, it’s likely that you’ll have been greeted enthusiastically by the brewery’s unofficial mascot, a silky, jet black labrador named Stout. Being a puppy, he’s eager to get into everything, including bags of fermenting fruit – destined for beer – that dogs really shouldn’t eat because it gets them drunk and worries their owners that they’re about to cark it. However, having survived the perils of brewery life to date,… Read more
Style
Milk Stout
Strength
5.0%

Modus Operandi L90 Imperial IPA

Tapped June 1st, 2015
For the uninitiated, the L90 is the longest commuter bus route in Sydney, winding its way more than 40 kilometres from the CBD up through the northern beaches. With no train lines in the area, the service is something of a lifeline for the carless of the northern suburbs and, for anyone wanting to travel to Modus Operandi, it’s also the most viable option for getting to and from the Mona Vale brewery. So when the brewing team put their heads together for ideas for their first entry to the GABS… Read more
Style
Imperial IPA
Strength
9.0%
Stockists

Modus Operandi Brewery

Modus Operandi Barrel Aged IPAs

Tapped April 21st, 2015
When we first visited Modus Operandi in mid 2014, a short while after they’d opened, owner Grant Wearin pointed out a couple of Lark Distillery barrels they’d procured. One was filled with their Dark Knight porter and the other was sitting empty and they were throwing around the idea of filling it with their red IPA, the Former Tenant, back before it had been crowned Champion Australian Craft Beer by the Craft Beer Industry Association. The barrel-aged porter came, was delicious, then went,… Read more
Style
Barrel-Aged IPA
Strength
Various
Stockists

Modus Operandi

Local Taphouse St Kilda (during Good Beer Week)

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Modus Operandi / Royal Albert The Dopey One

Tapped March 19th, 2015
The Royal Albert Hotel and Modus Operandi seem to be getting on rather well. The former has been pouring one or another of the latter’s beers almost every day since MO started exporting beyond Mona Vale and into Sydney proper. The Albert is also the only place outside the brewery to have one of Modus’ infamous CANimal machines behind the bar. If it wasn’t clear that these guys are already BFFs, they’ve now gone and made a beer together which, in brewing terms, pretty much means they’re… Read more
Style
American Brown Ale
Strength
5.0%

Modus Operandi M.O.na Pale Ale

The story of this beer is that there is no real story - it’s just M.O.na Pale for Mona Vale. But unfortunately that’s selling the beer a bit short. This US-inspired pale ale started out in the brewery's permanent range before being bumped to a seasonal when they rebranded at the end of 2015. When they first opened it was Modus Operandi’s least-hoppy hoppy beer, but in saying that it sure ain’t short of hops. That’s thanks to six different additions of US Centennial which helps produce a… Read more
Style
Pale Ale
Strength
5.8%

Modus Operandi Pepper In The Rye Saison

It would hardly be a Modus Operandi beer if it weren’t made in reference to a colourful cultural figure, whether that be Edward Hallstrom of Dee Why, Lola of old Soho or in this case Holden Caulfield, the adolescent protagonist from Catcher in the Rye. It’s supposed to be a fun and unashamedly different beer and it certainly is one that fits comfortably in the style category labelled ‘other’. Working off a Belgian farmhouse base, there are all manner of interesting things going on within;… Read more
Style
Table Saison
Strength
6.2%

Modus Operandi Zoo Feeder IPA

In the early to mid 1900's the land where the Modus Operandi brewery now stands was owned by a gentleman named Edward Hallstrom. He was a noted philanthropist, which earned him a knighthood, and devoted much of his attention towards Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, using his land to grow feed and raise animals – amongst them a pair of white rhinos. As homage to this history, the team at Modus decided to name one of their flagship beers after him, the Zoo Feeder. The beer somewhat named in his honour is… Read more
Style
US IPA
Strength
7.2%
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