Let’s be painstakingly honest here: in this day and age, most news is not good. This planet has had a rough run since humans worked out how to light shit on fire and there’s only so much flora and fauna you can personally apologise to before you get tuckered out. Which makes good news so much more valuable, and the good news here is a reminder that beer exists, and there are some very good humans making some very good beer. Folks, this is a Good News story, and it is about Newstead Brewing Co.
Sandwiched between the XXXX behemoth and the hulking giant that is Suncorp Stadium, Milton now hosts Newstead Brewing Co’s second venue: the younger, bigger, bolder sibling of their OG Doggett Street brewhouse. It stands as a beacon for craft beer; a physical representation of their gargantuan promise that the creation of quality beer in Brisbane is not slowing down anytime soon. Keeping up with demand whilst working towards their own production facility has been a dream a long time in the making, with Newstead having previously worked with BrewPack (Sydney) and the monsters at KAIJU! (Melbourne) to facilitate the distribution of bottle stock and kegs down south.
As a 100 percent family owned business, Newstead Brewing Co has had a sense of community at the forefront of its ethos since its inception in 2013. Owners Peter, Heather and Mark Howes, alongside family friend and industry professional Michael Conrad, have employed more than 70 beer-loving larrikins, with plans to expand the Newstead clan as the business continues to grow. With 50 or more (probably more) collaborations under their brewing belt at time of writing, the opening of the brewery has resulted in the original brewhouse transitioning into a hive for even more special batch and seasonal releases, with facilities becoming more available for gypsy brewers in South East QLD.
For those curious about the build itself, the process was made publicly available via a series of short videos documenting the construction of the brewery. Construction was an arduous experience, as the development of any business is, and its conclusion was a welcome reality for all involved. With 32 taps, a full kitchen and a classic (some would deem necessary) indoor/outdoor Queensland design aesthetic, you can scowl at Suncorp Stadium from almost any section of the venue – the dream. There’s ample on-street parking and, with Caxton Street to the left and Milton Train Station to the right, the location couldn’t be more accessible (mobility equipment included).
As far as the system is concerned, they’ve stepped up from a 12 hectolitre system to a 50 hec, four vessel set up and, mates, it’s bloody huge. With the floor space inside the warehouse dedicated to the brewery and canning line, six 100 hec and two 50 hec fermenters crouch in the carpark within full view of the mammoth fermenters of XXXX (no doubt ready to be joined by more towers of steel over time). It’s quite a sight. On game nights, with the energetic roars of the stadium next door, you can watch a storey height projection of the game on the carpark wall while you sip an IPA for which you didn’t need to sign away any vital organs. (We’re assuming that’s how stadium bars work?)
Regardless of the definite privileges for sport fans, at full steam the brewery has the capacity to produce 1.4 million litres of beer per year. ONE AND A HALF MILLION LITRES. OF BEER. The thought alone is hangover inducing. That’s like, a thousand beer baths. But not quite an Olympic size pool – apparently that’s two and a half million litres. Who knew?
The installation of a barrel room next to the kitchen is one of the many exciting developments of the brewery. It’s currently hosting 24 Old Forester ex-bourbon barrels, shipped over from Kentucky as part of an ongoing collaboration with the Louisville distillery. Within sight of the barrel room and parallel to the brewhouse sits the yeast den of discovery (the lab), protected by an obstacle of a canning line. Outside, next to a truly enormous hop freezer, sits a cold room with two “baby” thousand litre fermenters, there purely for yeast cultivation and growth. Lab work is already underway, with a University of Queensland PhD student working alongside the brewers to cultivate yeast strains unique to Brisbane suburbs. Pretty dang cool. Despite sitting in the shadow (literal shadow, nothing else) of XXXX, Newstead Brewing Co is a beast in its own right.
The food menu intermingles slightly with that of the original brewhouse: a blend of easy peasy pub feeds and culinary wizardry. The beer-in-food focus hints at a future of malty degustations and a rooftop beehive looks over Castlemaine Street, the native bees protecting the brewery like that dope golden robot bee from Richie Rich. Some would say that the owners of Newstead Brewing Co knew from the beginning what Richie only truly realised at the end of the 1994 release: that money means zilch without friendship and family*.
Newstead Brewing Co has been a staple of the Brisbane craft beer scene only since 2013, but it feels like a lifetime. One, because of their phenomenal, unbridled generosity towards the craft beer industry and wider Brisbane community and, two, because a friendship with Mark Howes makes you feel like the oldest person alive and every time that asshole gives you shit, you can’t help but love him more. He has almost definitely done murders for Satan to gain such infuriating abilities and I will despise him for it until the day I die.
Go to their beautiful Milton brewery, have a pint of their delicious beer and, if you have the misfortune to run into Mark, you’ll see what I mean.
*Arguably, Richie subconsciously knew this early on but only outwardly, consciously expressed his appreciation of it from the Bully Beatdown-esque rescue montage onwards. Why Jonathan Hyde’s character refuses to change out of the “badass” clothes (that he forcibly took from a man in prison) during that entire ordeal we don’t know, but every second of screen time with that leather bandana was hell on Earth.