Mean Doses founders Dean Moses and Kerry Consedine didn’t have a conventional path into craft beer. Moses, formerly in social services, decided to give brewing a go and made a full career switch, while Consedine (his partner in life and business) still works for the government by day around co-running the brewery.
Having opened their brewery and fillery on Tory Street in mid-2018, the pair launched a taproom in June this year – five years later “to the day”, Consedine tells Broadsheet. It’s less than 300 metres away, above popular Burmese restaurant Mabel’s.
“The initial concept was around a brewery and a little bar – something quite small. Never for a minute did we imagine we’d be opening something in the city,” says Consedine. “But we looked for a long time for a space in the burbs and just couldn’t find anything suitable.”
After an opportunity arose to take over the Te Aro Brewing Company space on Tory Street in 2018, they built slowly and organically, relying on word of mouth and supplying kegs to bars around Wellington.
In another bit of luck, the duo heard through friends when a former Lone Star right down the road from the brewery came up for lease – the ideal spot for a customer-facing bar space.
“We had to work hard to de-Lone Star it,” laughs Consedine. “It’s not quite retro enough to be cool”.
The taproom can hold about 150 people, but with a few separate spaces it doesn’t feel cavernous. Moses and Consedine have redone the fit-out to suit the Mean Doses aesthetic – “a bit retro, ’80s and neon, synth-wave” – and there’s now a games room, featuring a pool table and arcade games, which has proved popular.
They want people to treat it as a home away from home – comfortable, not too pretentious. “Come and play a game if you want but, equally, if you just want a beer and to listen to some music, that’s great too.”
It’s not easy to start a craft brewery in Wellington’s undeniably saturated market, but Moses’s passion stems from a love of experimentation. “When I decided that I wanted to pursue a brewing career, it was about this desire to play and create,” he tells Broadsheet. “I like cooking, I like flavours – but equally, I really like traditional and simple styles. They aren’t as marketable in the current craft beer scene, but there’s great satisfaction in honing some of those recipes.”
He created some special beers for the recent Beervana festival, including Big Trouble in Little Doses – a session India dark lager (“session” referring to its low ABV and easy-drinking aspect) which tastes of “roasty goodness and citrusy pine-i-ness”; the Tangerine Mean lemon and tangerine sour; and a double IPA called Meaner IPA – a souped-up, over 9 per cent ABV version of the core Mean IPA.
Moses recounts some other experiments that haven’t quite gone to plan – one being a stout with Vietnamese fish sauce and MSG. “It was the MSG that did it, actually – the fish sauce might have worked.” Other, more successful, flavours have included a peanut butter and jam beer, and a hemp beer.
The duo says their still-small size allows that creativity, and they balance unusual brews that spark peoples’ interest with IPAs, lager and hazy beers to appeal to those who aren’t necessarily craft beer aficionados.
The taproom’s other point of difference is its departure from the usual bar food, thanks to the neighbours. The concise menu of Mabel’s snacks includes chicken wings with garlic sriracha and pickled ginger, and tohu kyaw (Burmese chickpea fritters) with lahpet dressing and belachung (lahpet being pickled or fermented tea, and belachung a dried shrimp condiment). You can also get both vegan and pork loaded fries, and Burmese ginger salad.
“We’re a proud Wellington couple, and it’s so cool to be able to offer the space for our fellow Wellingtonians to come and enjoy – and people of all ages, too,” says Consedine. “To have a space that’s as nice and comfortable for your 40-, 50- and 60-year-olds, but also [people in their] twenties and thirties – we’re really proud of that.”
Mean Doses has a tiny team, and Consedine is thankful for the support they’ve received so far – “not only [from] the breweries, but also the bars around town buying our beer. And that’s so awesome and motivating to keep paying it forward.”
Mean Doses Taproom
Level 1, 66 Tory Street, Te Aro, Wellington