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Newstead Brewing’s tasting room, where beer gets the cellar-door treatment

This time last year, the team behind Newstead Brewing Co. was in the midst of a titanic undertaking – getting its Milton production brewery and taproom back in working order after flood waters inundated the premises. These days you wouldn’t even be able to tell that the brew hub, affectionately dubbed Miltonia, was partially submerged. In fact, it looks better than ever thanks to the addition of a brand-new tasting room, which is not only dispensing pints of its heralded craft beers, but also new-wave wines and quirky cocktails. Come and take a peek inside …

Apr 20, 2023, updated Apr 21, 2023

There’s nothing like a once-in-a-100-year weather event to instigate a restructure. When flood waters receded and the brains trust at the helm of Newstead Brewing Co. surveyed the rain bomb’s impact on its Milton location, the team quickly realised that tough choices would need to be made. The damage – a business-closing hurdle for most smaller operations – was a sizeable setback for the pioneering brewery, which was forced to consolidate operations over the ensuing 12 months. While this meant the closure of its long-running Doggett Street brewery (now home to Working Title Brew Co.), it also heralded a renewed desire to maximise Miltonia’s potential.

“An event like that, when you were an independent family-owned business, is pretty devastating,” says Michelle Thompson who, along with her partner Mark Howes (also of Working Title Brew Co.), took charge of Miltonia’s upgrade. “This is a weapon of a venue,” Michelle continues. “There is nowhere like it in Brisbane, with its size and sheer ability to offer very different experiences.” The first phase of Miltonia’s new transformation was revealed this week – a previously under-utilised street-facing function space has been converted into a tasting room dedicated to showing off Newstead beers as well as a host of other libations.

Michelle, a trained sommelier and former wine rep, has spearheaded the tasting room’s direction and offering, drawing upon her expertise to devise a concept loosely inspired by the cellar doors of independent wineries. “We’re offered such a unique opportunity in Brisbane to become the McLaren Vale or the Barossa of beer,” says Michelle. “It would be ludicrous in my mind to not offer the community an actual cellar-door experience.” To do this, the team has given the space an aesthetic makeover that strikes mid-point between Doggett Street’s inner-city grunge and the shine of its Domestic Airport bar (itself a cellar door, of sorts, to the world). At the bar, guests will find caffeine from Coffee Supreme, a range of Newstead Brewing’s beers on tap and in cans, and a selection of small-batch wines from independent, young-gun makers producing wines that tell a story. You’ll spy drops from Evans Evans WinesFrankly This Wine Was Made by Bob and Cockfighter’s Ghost, available alongside Australian-made spirits and cocktails that riff on classic recipes with Newstead Brewing-inspired tweaks.

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Peckish punters will be chuffed to hear that Newstead Brewing Co.’s food menu was also on the receiving end of a refurbishment. Peter Swatton – Miltonia’s original head chef – has returned to helm the site’s kitchen, crafting a new selection of what Michelle dubs ‘share food to drink beer to’. We’re talking fried zucchini pickles with herbed creme fraiche, beer-battered pumpkin scallops with coconut labneh, flat-bread pizzas, Reuben sandwiches and braised-lamb pithiviers with goats cheese. Moving forward, the Newstead Brewing team will look to activate its upstairs function area as an art and music space, while the main brew house will also receive a cosmetic sprucing.

Pretty soon Miltonia will become the craft-beer mecca the team has always envisioned it being. “We’re very proud of the resilience and the sheer grit that we’ve shown to be still standing,” says Michelle, reflecting on the past 12 months. “That’s what this room is about – we’re saying ‘Hey, we’re making some of the best beer we’ve ever made.’ We really wanna celebrate it, because we nearly weren’t here.”

Newstead Brewing Co.’s tasting room is now open to the public. Operating hours and other important details can be found in the Stumble Guide.

This article was written by James Frostick from The Weekend Edition

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