Mark Howes, Co-owner, Newstead Brewing Co.

Success is being satisfied and happy, without expense to anyone else ...

There are few pleasures greater than kicking back on a sultry summer day with a plate of pub grub on the table, an ice-cold schooner of beer in the hand and a long afternoon with friends stretching before you. While in the past, Brisbane dwellers may have been hard pressed to find a bar pouring locally produced artisan beers, the current craft brew renaissance has seen specialty digs sprouting across the city. Just last weekend, another microbrewery, pub and restaurant rolled up the garage door in a lofty former gallery and bus depot in Newstead. Co-owners Mark Howes and Michael Conrad are living the dream – spending their working hours concocting new brews and watching grateful punters relish every last drop. The Weekend Edition dropped in to the Newstead venue on brewing day and took five with Mark to chat challenges, childhood dreams and the changing tastes of beer drinkers.

How would your younger self react if he knew you’d just opened up your own brewery and pub?
‘Free beer? I’m in heaven!’

How did you first get interested in brewing?
In the first year of my PhD, my wife decided I needed a hobby so that I wouldn’t spend all my time at work and she bought me a homebrew kit for my birthday. It was terrific fun. There was just as much science in homebrewing as there was in actual science – and the outcomes were far more beneficial for society.

What was the the lightbulb moment that sparked the idea for Newstead Brewing Co.?
It’s really been a slow evolution over the last few years. Like most avid homebrewers, I’ve had the ethereal aspiration to open my own venue since I started. More recently, it has, obviously, taken more and more shape. Michael was really the one who looked at the Brisbane craft beer scene and had the lightbulb moment when he figured a microbrewery, bar and restaurant would be more value-adding than a craft beer bar. Rather than compromising on each section, we believe great food, a comfortable venue and solid, locally produced beers is what Brisbanites are looking for in a modern brewpub.

What have been the biggest challenges of getting the venue up and running?
Dealing with all forms of the government. At least they are consistent.

What sets Newstead Brewing Co.’s beers apart?
Freshness more than anything else. Four of our 12 taps pull out of four Bright Beer tanks, so patrons are drinking beer out of the brewing vessels. It’s simply not possible to get any fresher than that.

Which is your personal favourite from the brewery’s collection?
It wouldn’t be fair to the other beers if I picked a favourite.

What are your hopes for the venue?
I really want to see demand force us to open a bigger production brewery, not so close to the CBD. This would allow us to turn the small system at Newstead Brewing Co. into a pilot brewery for single batches and specialty beers – the fun stuff for brewers!

What drew you and Michael to the Doggett Street space?
The character of the warehouse. It has stacks of natural light and is just a comfortable, exposed place to hang out. 

What’s a typical day like for you?
A typical brewday starts at 7:00 am and we brew for six to seven hours. Then we filter a beer or clean a tank, check the progress of the beers, order inventory, clean the brewery and set up for the next day.

How have you seen Queenslanders’ tastes for beer change in recent times?
I’m not the first to say people seem to be drinking less, but better. At least for myself, I’m far more likely to have one or two drinks a day, but they’re generally much bigger, full-on beers than the lagers we used to drink at university. Outside that, Queenslanders have a long way to go. We’re really passionate about supporting and promoting locally produced goods and I think only a small fraction of Queenslanders appreciate that fresh, locally produced beer is without peer.

How do you like to start your weekend?
Coffee then beer.

How do you like to unwind?
Coffee then beer.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday evening?
Read stories to my kids.

What was your childhood dream?
To find a cure for cancer. Looks like that dream took a 180.

What is success to you?
Being satisfied and happy, without expense to anyone else.

Perk up … Sourced Grocer, Teneriffe.
Relax … Green Beacon Brewing, Teneriffe.
Dine … Bitter Suite, New Farm.
Indulge … Tippler’s Tap, Newstead.
Shop … Online. I really hate shopping.
Catch-up … The Scratch, Milton.


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