When you look at the independent beer scene in Brisbane, Newstead Brewing Co is part of the furniture. It’s a brewery that’s been seen on billboards, attached to sporting teams, and welcomes visitors to this fine city with its own bar at Brisbane Airport’s domestic terminal.
But if you’re just discovering NBCo for the first time, you’ll probably have one obvious question…
Why is Newstead Brewing in Milton, not Newstead?
The answer’s simple: it WAS in Newstead. In December 2013, Newstead Brewing Co came into existence as a brewpub in an old bus depot on Doggett St in Newstead. It helped nurture the growing appreciation of craft beer in south east Queensland, and for a decade that location fuelled the brand’s celebration of Brisbane history and was home to not a few antics and shenanigans.
But as the demand for NBCo beer grew, the brewing capacity… kind of… didn’t. The Newstead site simply wasn’t big enough to hold Newstead Brewing. So in 2017, the company opened a serious production facility and impressive venue on Castlemaine St in Milton.
For the next six years, NBCo ran both breweries and venues, with each site having a distinct feel while being thoroughly ‘Newstead’. But when disaster struck in 2022 - those damn floods that ravaged the Milton brewery - the company had to triage how to best use its resources. And at the start of 2023, they made the tough decision to let go of the Doggett St brewpub (“If you love something, set it free,” etc) and consolidate everything in Milton. All their staff, all their energy, and all their beer, together under one roof to give the brand a laser-sharp focus and a renewed energy for forging ahead. Think of it like the liquid metal Terminator coming together, or those robots combining to make Voltron, or some other apt pop culture reference.
All of this means that Newstead Brewing Co in Milton is bigger and shinier than when it opened in the old coach warehouse in 2013, yet has managed to remain independent and a bit silly when it needs to be. Sandwiched between the XXXX behemoth and the hulking giant that is Suncorp Stadium, the Milton brewery 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.
The brewhouse is a 50hL 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?)
While a large part of the brewery’s focus is dedicated to pumping out Newstead’s regular beers, there’s plenty of room for irregular beers too. The brewers watch over a delightful barrel program with all the protective love of a mother hen, feeding beer to their tiny monsters lurking in the darkness. There’s also the yeast den of discovery (the lab), and 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. Want to taste beers made from yeast strains unique to Brisbane suburbs? Well, Newstead’s doing beer science to give you what you want.
On the venue side, there’s 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). The food menu is 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.
As a business that’s 100 percent owned by a local family (the Howes family), NBCo’s community spirit shines bright. From the beginning, this is a brewery that’s shown that - aw heck, let’s just say it - the craft beer industry can be a family, too. Newstead Brewing has always welcomed gypsy brewers brew on their equipment, has invited other brewers to collaborate with them on beers (which are, let’s be honest, often wonderfully ridiculous), and has showcased the beers of other breweries on guest taps in the venue. They do camaraderie with their neighbours well.
Perhaps cementing the ultra-Brisbane feel of NBCo is their taproom at Brisbane Airport. Fly into Brisbane from any other part of Australia and NBCo’s the first beer you see when you arrive, and the last beer you see before you leave. Knocking back a Tooter (that’s Two To The Valley IPA to you out-of-towners) before jumping on a plane isn’t on the Brisbane Tourism website as a ‘must do’… but it should be.
Newstead Brewing Co has been a staple of the Brisbane craft beer scene only since 2013, but it feels like a lifetime. It’s part of Brisbane's heritage. It’s Newstead… even though it’s not in Newstead.
Mick Wust & George Levi