20 May, 2013
Death From Above
This has been one of the most challenging Garage brews to date. At its heart was the idea of combining aggressive, high citrus character of American hops with the heat and sweetness of Indochine flavours. Have you ever tried a Vietnamese mango and chili salad? If you haven’t you should. It could be life changing. It’s an idea that has been rattling around the Garage consciousness for a while and the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular seemed like a fitting opportunity to give it an outing.
It was always going to be a challenging brew to pull off – mango, chili, Vietnamese mint and lime juice aren’t exactly conventional ingredients. Don’t bother checking, they aren’t listed in the Reinheitsgebot. Add a lavish addition of Chinook, Centennial, Citra and Amarillo hops, a deadline launch for an international beer festival and take it straight to a 2000 litre batch without any chance for small scale testing and you get what could have been a recipe for spectacular, monumental disaster. The idea of trying to bring all these flavours together in a coherent way given the pressure of time and prospect of public humiliation was, frankly, shit scary.
Mango and Birdseye Chili straight out of the conditioning tank
It is therefore somewhat ironic that the actual brewing of this beer was perhaps one of the least problematic parts of its launch. Death from Above was not the name on the brewsheet. The beer was originally going to be called Hopocalypse Now, a hoppy pun pop reference to the cult movie by Francis Ford Coppola. The only problem was that there are 12 other Hopocalypse beers in the world. Perhaps one more wouldn’t have mattered - but not everyone agreed with us. So we made the decision to change the name to Death from Above, the motto of the US Airborne Division, a lateral reference to the famous Ride of the Valkyries scene from Apocalypse Now… and the name of a jolly good band into the bargain. The name also seemed particularly suitable as we dumped whole bag loads of dry hops through the top of our fermenter into the conditioning beer.
This was a beer concept fraught with danger. It could have all gone so wrong but we’re quietly happy with the finished product. It’s a complex beer which seems to reveal another aspect to its character every time I try it. It was never meant to be a controversial brew. It is just meant to be a good beer.
The beer will debut at the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular in Melbourne 24 – 26 May, and then a limited supply will be available in bottle and keg in New Zealand and Australia. Don’t try it because of controversy. Try it because it’s a unique, complex and interesting beer.
Note - a video on the making of the beer can be watched here.
20 April, 2013
Pan Pacific Amber Ale
Originally inspired by the humble ANZAC biscuit, Pan Pacific is brewed with golden syrup, suggestively named Golden Naked Oats and a combination of New Zealand Motueka and Australian Galaxy hops. It was originally released as a 20 litre cask at the first Pacific Beer festival with a name acknowledging the biscuit which inspired it. Interesting fact – it’s actually illegal to use the word ANZAC in the name of any product other than ANZAC biscuits (which can’t be called cookies). Who knew?
This latest big batch brew has an addition of toasted coconut and a new name acknowledging its pacific ingredients. Pan Pacific is a rich red amber, with generous malt and fruit hop character, and a subtle hint of toasted coconut at the end of the palate. It’s a brew to meet the arrival of Autumn, with nice body and character with just a hint of warmer climes.
Come fly with us.
1 March, 2013
Hops on Pointe
Beer and ballet – the perfect Pas de Deux. Brewed by Garage Project for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Hops en Pointe teases the traditional boundaries between high and low culture.
Brewed with premium German malts, Nelson Sauvin hops and finished with champagne yeast, the result is a pale gold lager with a crisp, clean palate, rich tropical fruit aromas and tight champagne bubbles forming a dense white head of foam. Available at all good barres soon…
Hops on Pointe is brewed to celebrate the world’s first ‘Beer Ballet’ called Bier Halle that Royal New Zealand Ballet are staging as part of the Made to Move season. Tickets and more information can be found here.
21 December, 2012
Pouring today only at Regional Wines and Spirits will be our Alfresco Baltic Porter, brewed ‘en plein air’ in the car park of Regional Wines and Spirits a month or so ago on one of Wellington’s shittier blustery days.
The brew is a Baltic Porter, made with six malts and given a long cold ferment with lager yeast for a nice clean palate. To give this brew a Regional Wines & Spirits angle, the beer was conditioned on French and American toasted oak chips which had first been soaked in red wine and whiskey respectively (get it, wines and spirits - see what we’re doing there).
I think the finished beer is quite fun, complex but not cloying with a nice oak aroma and the ghosts of wine and whiskey lingering in the palate.
The usual Garage Project warning about limited quantities is even more pressing here given that one 20L keg of the porter will be available on the fill your own taps with a minimum pour size of 1.25L (which, if you do the math, means a lucky 16 people get one). However, they will also be reserving another keg for in-store tastings available from today while stocks last. Check with Regional for details.
17 December, 2012
The Chosen Few
Last year Boundary Road, the “independently minded brewery nestled in the foothills of the Hunua Ranges” who also brew Tuborg, Carlsberg and Kingfisher beers under license, very generously sent twenty two thousand $5 notes to people who had expressed an interest in trying the brand’s new beer offerings.
At the time we were hard up against it trying to find enough cash to upgrade from our 50 litre pilot plant, and their marketing ploy seemed a tad extravagant to us. Jos cheekily suggested that anyone who didn’t want their $5 Boundary Road beer money could donate it to our fermenter fund as a way of helping us buy some more equipment.
A surprising number of people did pass on their stamped $5 bills and thank you very much to all of you who did. Fact is that it didn’t quite add up to a fermenter (they are expensive) and that left Jos and I with a neat little pile of fivers and the sense that we really ought to do something worthwhile with our ill-gotten gains.
Jos once more came up with a plan – why not use the money to make the most gratuitously extravagant beer we could imagine and then offer this to those who had supported us.
So this Tuesday night at Hashigo Zake we are proud to announce the launch of the beer we have christened The Chosen Few (aka. Mr. Truffleupagus). At its heart is a specially brewed strong blonde Belgian ale, to which we added 20g of freshly dug white bianchetto truffle that we first infused in honey, and then refermented with champagne yeast. The result is something you’ll just have to taste if you can make it down to Hashigo Zake this Tuesday night.
Those of you who gave us your details with your Boundary Road beer money will be contacted, but for those who anonymously donated (and be honest), it would be in your interest to make your way to Hashigo Zake this Tuesday and make yourself known to the bar staff. Hopefully we can make it the best $5 you ever did nothing to earn and then gave away.
All of you be warned, only one 20 litre keg of this beer exists and it starts pouring at 5pm on Tuesday 18th, so get in quick.
We would like to especially thank Jeff Weston from Borchii Park for sharing his knowledge of bianchetto truffles, Ace, Bonnie and Bellasconi, the truffle dogs responsible for finding this brew’s extravagant addition and without whom this beer would not have been possible… and of course, cheers to Boundary Road.
12 December, 2012
Summer Sommer - Double Summer Ale
This week we’re genuinely excited to announce the re-release of Summer Sommer, our Double Summer Ale. We first brewed this beer in November last year as part of a hugely enjoyable and successful collaborative brew with Kjetil from the Norwegian brewery Nøgne Ø. We were all happy with the result back then, so much so that we sent a couple of bottles off to the Australian International Beer Awards where it ended up winning a trophy for best in class for speciality beer, which was nice.
Despite the inevitable dramas of brewing with rye, (see our post on Bastard Rye) it is great to brew this recipe again. I love the tradition of brewing festive beers, but in the northern hemisphere these brews are often dark, rich and spiced, something like a liquid Christmas pudding, which somehow doesn’t seem quite right for an antipodean Christmas. Summer Sommer (sommer is Norwegian for summer) is our answer to Christmas in the sun.
Brewed with pale, rye and cararye malts, Pohutakawa honey and finished with Kohatu hops - the aim is a strong summer blonde ale, something a bit special for the festive season.
If all goes well Jos and I will be heading over to Norway next year to brew this beer again with Kjetil. Fingers crossed.
Summer Sommer is available first at Hashigo Zake (it’s going on as I write this) and then in all good beer bars around New Zealand, and maybe even Australia. There will also be a limited number of Summer Sommer bottles available soon, stay tuned for details.
From all of us at the Garage Project, Gledelig Jul and have a great festive season.
PS - Dylan and the guys at Hashigo filmed the original brew, which you can watch here. Thanks guys!
21 November, 2012
North American Scum*
Pils ‘n’ Thrills & California Über Alles
Call it a rut, call it a phase, call it what you will but we seem to have been brewing a lot of American inspired beers of late. We haven’t done it on purpose but looking at the fermenters there’s a definite trend.
Last Friday we released Pils ‘n’ Thrills, Garage Project’s first Pilsener beer. To be honest it was something of a covert release with a few kegs appearing at The Southern Cross and Regional Wines and Spirits, but despite the quiet release this is anything but a quiet beer.
There comes a time in any brewery’s life when they need to make the serious decision about what sports team they’ll get behind. For Garage Project this decision was simple – roller derby. If you haven’t made it to a roller derby match yet, you really don’t know what you are missing out on. Inspired by Wellington’s own Richter City Roller Derby team Pils ‘n’ Thrills is an American hopped pilsener, with a bright golden colour and a crisp, clean, bitter citrus character.
Like all Garage beers it is also vegan and unfiltered. The fantastic vintage tattoo art work is by local tattoo artist Simon Morse, which seemed fitting since he’s inked half the Richter City team. Unfortunately events conspired to prevent a proper roller derby launch for this beer, but we are looking forward to celebrating the beginning of next year’s season with Pils ‘n’ Thrills. In the meantime, look for Pils ‘n’ Thrills at the Cross and at a few other select outlets.
Then, continuing our American affair, next week we will be launching California Über Alles. Brewed with US Northern Brewer hops, Pale, Vienna, Crystal and Caramel malts and California Lager yeast, California Über Alles is the Garage take on the California Common style made famous by Anchor Steam beer. I should point out that anyone looking for a replica of Anchor’s classic brew won’t find it here – like all Garage brews Über Alles takes the style as a starting point rather than trying to produce a clone of an existing brew. If you don’t get the name then you probably didn’t spend the eighties trying to push safety pins through soft parts of your anatomy. If this is the case don’t feel bad, but remember it’s never too late to start.
As if that wasn’t enough, look out for a batch of Angry Peaches and another American hopped Golden Brown in the lead up to Christmas. Honestly, what hop crisis?
* Settle down, it’s a lyric, not a racial slur
8 November, 2012
Caledonia Über Alles
When you mention old world India Pale Ale most people who have read the standard history of beer think of Burton-on-Trent, England. It’s less well known that Scottish breweries played a significant role in the production and export of IPA, accounting for a quarter of all British beer exports by the late 1800’s.
This is the inspiration for Caledonia Über Alles, an ‘old world’ IPA brewed with Edinburgh Ale yeast, a strain capable of producing beers with a crisp, clean character, and Golden Promise malt made from Scottish spring barley. That’s where any pretense at historical accuracy ends. Other than Goldings, the other hops in this beer - Target and Challenger - are modern British hybrids that weren’t even a twinkle in the hop breeder’s eye in the heyday of IPA. The result is a crisp, hoppy pale ale, weighing in at a respectable 7% abv with a clean amber gold malt base and a hop character which is assertive but distinctly ‘Un-American’.
The name is of course a reference to the song by US proto punk band the Dead Kennedys. Later this month we’ll be launching a new Garage Project beer that we’ve called California Über Alles, a beer based on a style known as California Common. Phil made the Caledonia Über Alles joke. We laughed. It stuck.
Caledonia Über Alles will be available at the Malthouse this Friday 9th October for their ‘old world IPA challenge’. Beers pouring from 5pm - sláinte!
31 October, 2012
El Dia de los Muertos
For el Dia de los Muertos - Mexico’s Day of the Dead, it gives us great pleasure to announce the return of an old friend, and introduce to you his little sister.
Last year’s Dia de los Muertos provided one of the most memorable nights of the 24/24 with the launch of the Day of the Dead - a strong black lager inspired by the Aztec beverage xocolatl, “a bitter, frothy, spicy drink” combining cocoa and chilli.
This year we’ve brewed Day of the Dead again, this time on our big kit. We made a special effort with this brew to source as many authentic Mexican ingredients as possible, with Mexican cocoa and smoked chipotle chilli going into the brew.
The finished beer was then rested on Mexican vanilla pods, more chipotle, agave syrup (the basis of Tequila) and raw cocoa nibs sourced from Whittaker’s Chocolate. The result is a smooth and complex mix of smoke, chocolate and restrained chili heat that builds as you drink. I’m happy with the result, which I think might be even more balanced and complex than last year’s offering.
We’re also excited to introduce a new beer especially brewed for this year’s Dia de los Muertos. La Calevera Catrina, the elegant skull, little sister to our original dead head.
La Catrina is as blonde as Day of the Dead is dark, but she’s no lightweight. The base beer is a blonde lager with a cheeky, even ironic addition of maize. Maize is an ingredient you’d normally associate with much blander lager offerings, but here it is fired up with a generous addition of organic Habanero chillis, giving Calevera a far more assertive chilli heat than the smoky chipotle of her brother. To this blonde chilli base went an addition of rose water and watermelon. The result is a complex and surprising beer we think can stand proudly beside the Day of the Dead. Cheeky, ironic, complex and firey – what more could you want in the Lady of Death? We hope you’ll give her a warm welcome.
This Día de los Muertos, November 1, Day of the Dead will be available in good craft beer bars around New Zealand. La Calevera Catrina will be available in limited supply at Hashigo Zake the following night, Friday November 2.
30 October, 2012
Pie vs Cake
Cakes and pies, cakes and pies!
Ziggy’s Carrot Cake came as a bit of a surprise for us at Beervana. Honestly, I just really like my Mum’s carrot cake (always referred to in the family as Ziggy’s carrot cake, though no-one knows why) and I thought it would be funny to brew with carrots. Then everything got a bit crazy, Ziggy won the trophy for best festival beer and we ended up having to ration people to half pours to make the beer last each session of Beervana (which it didn’t even).
After the dust of Beervana had settled people asked if we were going to rebrew Ziggy’s. I said definitely not – festival beers are for festivals and the Ziggy’s recipe was filed away.
Pie vs Cake has made me a liar. But how could I say no – a proper confectionery confrontation, a real dessert storm. Ziggy’s Carrot Cake the original recipe spiced carrot ale vs the contender, Pecan Pie, a rich dark ale brewed with caramel and biscuit malts, Moscova sugar and infused with candied pecans. And along side, a proper old fashioned bake off, with Wellington’s sweet elite bringing in their best Carrot Cake and Pecan Pie offerings for our panel of experts to judge.
As for the beers, you decide.
There can be only one.
Very limited stocks of Ziggy’s and Pecan Pie will be pouring from 6pm at the Southern Cross, Halloween Eve, until the kegs run dry.
28 October, 2012
BEER BAKE OFF
24 October, 2012
PIE vs CAKE
Announcing a Halloween Special to be held at Southern Cross on October 31st. More details will be posted on early next week, but we wanted to let you know about something very special that is also taking place on the night… (see below the image!).
Alongside the beers, we will also be holding a PIE vs CAKE BAKE OFF! We are laying down the challenge to find Wellington’s best baker as judged by an esteemed panel of culinary experts we have assembled.
Bake your best Carrot Cake, Pecan Pie or something for the open ‘wild card’ category (pie, cake, slice, you decide!) and go into the running to win prizes, fame, glory and the title of Garage Project Beer Baker Extraordinaire 2012!
The entries will be judged by:
Jacob Brown - Owner and Chef at The Larder
Beth Brash - Editor at Eat & Greet
Jeremy Taylor - Food Blogger at The Omnivore
The Pies and Cakes will be judged on appearance, flavour and most importantly, how well they pair with either the Pecan Pie or Carrot Cake Beer.
There will be a winner, and they will receive a prize pack including $50 voucher to the Southern Cross, and exclusive bottles of Ziggy’s Carrot Cake, Pecan Pie, Double Day of the Dead Bourbon Barrel Edition and one other secret beer yet to be announced…
To enter - please email email@example.com to receive further instructions.
Good luck, and may the best Beer Baker win!
19 October, 2012
Sa vakarau na yaqona ni turaga - the kava of chiefs has been prepared
There is an important lesson to be taken from the research we undertook before brewing this beer. On no account should you ever engage Sean from the Thirsty Boys in any form of competitive Kava drinking. Really.
Some facts. The drink Kava is a popular recreational drug widely consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia. It is made from the powdered roots of the Kava plant Piper methysticum, a plant that coincidentally is closely related to the New Zealand Kawa Kawa, the leaves of which (6000 to be exact) went into our Wellington in a Pint beer earlier this year. Powdered Kava root has mild sedative and anesthetic properties and when consumed produces a state of relaxation. Another interesting fact, you can buy it at Pak’n’Save– who knew?
Sean and his wife Tere had very kindly agreed to come around to the brewery to help us do a little research on Kava. We chatted about the cultural practices of Kava drinking while Tere prepared a large bowl by mixing the powdered root with water and squeezing it through a fine mesh bag. She then poured me a shallow coconut cup worth of the hazy liquid.
I’ve heard people describe Kava as tasting like muddy water, but I’m not sure that this quite does it justice. The normal descriptors I’d use for beer are useless here. It is oddly numbing, at once somehow both bland and intense, with a muted spiciness and well, a little bit of mud.
I tried to down my cup in what I imagined was a confident worldly way. I obviously failed at this because Sean gave me one of those special sympathetic smiles before he and Tere both effortlessly downed a coconut cup each. Phil, the most recent member of the Garage Project, was given a cup that he took away and thoughtfully nursed.
At this stage a significant portion of my face went numb. “Sean”, I said, “I can’t feel my face.” This was quite hard to say because my lips weren’t really working very well. “What, already?” said Sean lifting one eyebrow. Now, as a brewer I’m normally pretty good at holding my drinks, but this was a different story. Clearly I was out of my comfort zone here and judging by the look on Sean’s face I was obviously a bit of a kava woose.
Not to be totally put to shame I accepted another cup, downed it in what I hoped was a more confident way and smiled. Job done, I thought.
It was at this stage that Tere explained that once a bowl was made it was customary for drinking to continue until it was empty. WTF. I looked at the bowl. It seemed like a pretty big bowl. Why would anyone manufacture a bowl that big? What were they thinking? It also still seemed quite full. I looked at Phil who was avoiding eye contact with me and was still nursing his first cup. I looked at Sean who just grinned and passed me another cup.
Around cup number four I had the interesting sensation that my brain was a boat, that the rope holding it to the pier had slipped off and that the boat was just floating gently away. I won’t lie, it felt quite nice.
Somehow the bowl was finally emptied. Neither Sean nor Tere seemed to have been effected in the slightest. I on the other hand felt that I had severed ties with time and space. I thanked both of them, doing my best impression of having my shit together. They both grinned at me. I grinned back in a slightly lopsided way and hoped that I wasn’t drooling.
And from this exhaustive research comes our offering for the Great Pacific Beer Expo – Kava Coconut, a truly Pacific inspired brown ale, brewed with coconut sugar, Maris Otter, Biscuit, Crystal, Caramel and Special B malts, lightly hopped with Centennial and infused with toasted coconut and yes, Kava. Available on Saturday and Sunday this weekend at the Great Pacific Beer Expo. We are told some tickets remain…
Finally, huge thanks to Sean and Tere for all their help, and for being so tolerant of my amateur attempts at Kava drinking. Make sure you check out Sean’s side of the story at the Thirsty Boys blog site.
15 October, 2012
Lola - Sour Cherry Cola Rye Ale
This is definitely one of our more playful beers. The base is our Bastard Rye, which had its debut at Hashi a couple of weeks ago and will appear in a number of forms over the months ahead. This particular batch was soured up and has been resting on cherries. We were having a taste of it to see how it was getting on when Jos just happened to play Lola by the Kinks, with that classic opening line.
“I met her in a club down in old Soho Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry-cola”
The next thing you know our sour cherry rye is getting a dose of Six Barrel Cola syrup. The result is a bright cherry red beer with sour cherry palate and a whimsical cola finish. We’ve called it Lola. As well as being the musical inspiration for this beer, Lola is also the name of the Aro Park cat – the tabby who frequents the park beside our brewery - one of the few cats I know with its own Facebook page and definitely among the most charming and photogenic local Aro characters.
Lola the Aro Park Cat
If you’re keen to give Lola a try be advised that there is an extremely limited quantity of this beer in existence, so get down to Hashigo Zake from 5pm on Tuesday the 16th. First in first served.
1 October, 2012
Rye, it’s a bastard.
Its lack of husk, high water retention capacity and high beta-glucan content mean rye is notoriously difficult to brew with. In simple terms it can convert a brewer’s mash (the porridge like mixture of hot water and crushed grain designed to convert starch into sugar) into a giant vat of gluggy jello, making it almost impossible to run off the sweet wort needed to make beer. There are cautionary tales among brewing circles of rye brews lasting days while their brewers sit rocking back and forth in a fetal position, sobbing.
But despite, or perhaps even because of the difficulties it causes, rye holds a special place in brewing lore. It delivers a unique and distinctive spice character to the beers it’s used in, but I suspect that, like eating puffer fish, its popularity has something to do with courting danger.
With a few rye beers under our belt on the pilot plant I was feeling pretty confident, even cocky, about brewing a batch on our big kit. Summer Sommer, our first rye beer, brewed with Kjetil from the Norwegian brewery Nøgne Ø, was a bit of a bastard to run off - but I was pretty sure I’d improved my technique, pretty sure I’d dodge the rye bullet.
Normally the run off from the mash takes a couple of hours. By hour seven of my rye run off I was feeling decidedly less cocky. Bastard rye. This was shaping up to be a nightmare brew.
It was particularly interesting to chart my mood with the slow realization that this was going to be a terminally slow run off. I was reminded of a ghastly human resource workshop I was forced to attend when I worked for Lion Nathan in Australia. In this workshop we were introduced to SARAH - a description of people’s reaction to traumatic events (S-hock; A-nger; R-ejection; A-cceptance; H- ealing). What I thought was interesting was that after reaching a state of calm at around hour 9 (which I assumed was H-ealing) I seemed to go back to S and start all over again. It’s personality flaws like this that meant I would never be a good Lion Nathan employee.
At hour 13 of trickling slow run off I decided I had enough, in more ways than one, and started the boil. I have to say that after a 13 hour run off a one hour boil just seems like an anti climax.
Now the funny thing is that we brew two days in a row to fill our fermenters, so with the brew finally done and dusted by the small hours of the morning, I crawled home with the knowledge that in a couple of hours I’d have to be back at the brewery to do it all over again.
I arrived back at the brewery feeling significantly less cocky. Now, I’m not normally big on the whole modernist ideal of man’s dominance over nature, but after a 19 hour brew day the day before I was keen to bring the full power of science to bear on this beer. This time I made a separate mash for the rye with not one but two protein rests designed to break down those troublesome beta glucans which had ruined my run-off the day before. I then added this to the main mash and this time success – a respectable four hour run off, and a warm slightly smug feeling. In your face rye.
This Tuesday night you can taste the first installment of Bastard Rye as part of our 24 More series at Hashigo Zake. The lion’s share of this beer has been tucked away to mature in Maker’s Mark bourbon barrels, but we pulled out a small portion that we have been quietly resting on raspberries. At 11% abv this is one of the strongest Garage beers so far, so strong it seems to cling to the glass. The result is a boozie hit of rye spice and berry character, blonde but with a definite raspberry tint. With an alcohol content this high, although it was brewed almost four months ago now, it still seems ‘young’ to me. It’s great fun to try now, and it will be fascinating to see what happens to the beer as it ages in our bourbon barrels.
A proper bastard to brew certainly - but well worth the effort.