20 April, 2014

Something to Celebrate

We haven’t ever been very good at celebrating any of life’s little victories at the Garage. One reason is that we are often busy. There are periods of all consuming activity at the brewery around the lead up to events and equipment upgrades.

Sometimes these intense patches bunch up together to create a perfect storm.

You can tell when we’ve been through one of these patches when I begin to look like a Chilean fisherman who’s been lost at sea for six months and maybe had to eat his shipmates – all hair with a thousand mile stare.

I looked in the mirror the other morning and realised we’ve been riding the storm.

In the last two months we’ve pulled out our old brew house and replaced it with a new one twice the size and added three new upsized fermenters. This kind of large-scale installation and commissioning of equipment is a cocktail of excitement and terror. In the mix of cranes, forklifts and huge stainless steel tanks there are moments that make the sweat bead up in places you didn’t know you could sweat. Will it fit? Did we measure twice? What have we forgotten? WTF are we doing?

Luckily everything did fit (or was encouraged to fit) in our little Garage. A brewery is always a funny place when it’s not being brewed in - like the heart has been pulled out of it leaving a room full of cold stainless steel.

But now there is cause to celebrate. The brewery’s transplant has been a resounding success. In the last month since the install we’ve brewed what would have taken us four months on the old kit. It’s been hard work but, touch-wood, the upgrade will mean no more beer shortages. There’ll be more scope for playing around, more barrel aging, more cans and more beer in more outlets in more places. That seems like something to celebrate.

Another reason to celebrate is the news last week that we picked up a coveted Silver Medal at the World Beer Cup for our Cockswain’s Courage Double Barreled Porter in the Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Beer Class – one of the top three most contested classes this year.

Now, beer competitions are a funny thing and there is always an element of luck on the day. I’m generally the first to moan about them when Garage beers are ruled ‘out of class’ – but fuck yeah, we got a silver! I’m told it has been fourteen years since a New Zealand brewery got a medal. This year New Zealand won two - so huge ups to Speights who also won silver for their Triple Hop Pilsner in the International Lager Class. Well done.

So there is much to celebrate. We’ll try to find time to raise a glass and once again, thanks to all of you who have supported the Garage, even when we had no beer to sell. We look forward to being able to fill your glasses in the years to come.

Cheers.

2 February, 2014

Dark Days Indeed

When we opened the cellar door early last year our goal was to always offer a full, interesting and varied line up of beers. Keeping the taps occupied and the beer flowing has been more than a full time job. On several occasions we’ve come perilously close to running out only to have been saved at the last minute. with a timely batch of beer. 

However, it seems likely that at some point early this week the worst will happen. The Garage will run out of beer.

                                 [Cellar Door taps in better days]

Pernicious was the first to fall, then Aro Noir and Hops on Pointe. VPA held out valiantly but was emptied last week – since then Pils ‘n’ Thrills, Trip Hop and Extraordinary Ordinary have been putting up a rear guard action, but as of yesterday only Pils and Ordinary were left standing, and chances are that in the next few days, they’ll be gone too. Dark days indeed.

Why? The answer is something of a perfect storm – a Christmas and New Year in the cellar door that far exceeded our projections, some interruption to production as we install new tanks, two special event beers and several pallets leaving us on an OS trip - but at the end of the day the simple answer is that demand has outstripped our capacity to make beer.

But there is hope. A new batch of Pils will be coming through this week and Wednesday will see the launch of Beyond the Pale, our shockingly pink homage to the Fringe Festival, brewed with sumac, lemon and hibiscus. There are bottles of Hops on Pointe on the way and Pernicious Weed will be making a welcome return the following week along with API, our Webstock ‘reverse IPA’. There is also still Garage Project available in the best bars and bottle stores around Wellington and further afield.

Best of all, our new tanks should be up and running by the end of next week (touch wood) hopefully marking an end to lean times. In the future there will be more beer and even more variety.

In the meantime we want to thank everyone who continues to come to the cellar door and accept the slim pickings on offer with good humour. Thank you all for your support. We’re working hard to fix things.

Your patience will be rewarded.

Pete & Jos

22 November, 2013

Beer

It couldn’t be simpler.

Pilsner malt, Saaz hops and Czech yeast. That’s it.

Sometimes simple is exactly what you want.

Why bother dressing it up?

It is what it is.

Beer.

Beer is now available throughout Wellington bars and at the Garage Project cellar door.

18 November, 2013

Burning Globe

Guest blog post by Maddie Gillespie

“… a quart of ale is a dish for a King”

A Winter’s Tale

My Dad is the brewer at the Garage Project brewery. When I said I had an idea for a beer he rolled his eyes. I explained that it would be a beer made with smoked malt, to mark 400 years since the Globe Theatre burned down and that we should call it Burning Globe. That got his attention.

The idea came to me while reading a book about Shakespeare. It talked about the Globe burning down and it occurred to me that it was exactly 400 years since the event. What made the idea for the beer relevant was that the book mentioned someone’s breeches catching alight and being put out with a bottle of ale.

“…only one man had his breeches set on fire, that would perhaps have broyled him, if he had not by the benefit of a provident wit, put it out with a bottle of ale.”

Sir Henry Wotton’s eyewitness account of the Globe burning down 1613

A smoky English ale was destined to be created. 

Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble – my Dad and I brewing Burning Globe at the Garage Project, Aro Valley

My Dad and I brewed the beer one weekend. We used oak smoked wheat malt, barley, and caramel malts for colour. It has finished fermenting now – I haven’t tried it but my Dad says it tastes great.

I hope there’s some left for the event!

Burning Globe will be available, served straight from an oak barrel at the Southern Cross garden bar on 1st December as part of a special Shakespeare event. As well as a range of barreled Garage beers there will be Elizabethan food, music and, fresh from their very successful run at BATS Theatre, a one-off live encore of the Playshop theatre company’s This Fair Verona”.

Theatre in Shakespeare’s day could be a boisterous and bawdy affair. Beer drinking was part of the audience experience (and useful in the event of trouser fires). Here’s your chance to get a sense of what Shakespeare for the people would have been like.   

Entry is free, as it always is at the Cross, and the event will help to raise funds for the Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ.

Barrels will be tapped at 4pm with the live performance beginning 4.30. Come dressed up if you like! Get a bit of Shakespeare up ya.

15 November, 2013

Garagista

Enzo Ferrari once scornfully labelled the start up, garage based Formula One teams of the 60’s as Garagista’s. They built their cars lighter, faster and beat teams with far greater resources all from small garages. Something we can identify with especially, being based in an old car workshop.

'Race Sunday, Test Monday' was their mantra, and in that spirit we're developing a new beer, Garagista.

Several ‘marks’ will get brewed. All will be run through the cellar door taps as tasters only, and we want your feedback. Only when we’re all happy will it move up to the larger kit and make it’s way out of the Garage for you all to try.

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So drop by and give it a spin. There’s only 30L so it won’t last long.

Cheers,

Pete & Jos

31 October, 2013

Day of the Dead 2013

On this Hallow’s Eve, we’re excited to announce our Day of the Dead line up for 2013. 

From tomorrow, Day of the Dead AND La Calavera Catrina will be available in keg, 650ml bottle and cans. 

We worked especially hard this year to ensure nobody misses out, and to that end, have arranged a simultaneous launch in New Zealand AND Australia! More details on where you can find the beers below…

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For those of you not familiar, Day of the Dead is our Chili Chocolate Black Lager, and La Calavera Catrina is a Maize Blonde Lager brewed with Habenero Chili, and condiitioned on Rosewater and Watermelon.

New Zealand

Day of the Dead and La Calavera Catrina will be on tap at the following bars from 1st of November.

It will also be available at the Garage Project Cellar Door from Friday, and the Garage Project Online Store from early next week.

Vultures Lane - Auckland (also pouring Triple DOTD)

Brothers Beer - Auckland

Freida Margolis - Auckland

Hashigo Zake - Wellington

The Malthouse - Wellington

Bin 44 - Wellington

Southern Cross - Wellington

Kelburn Village Pub - Wellington (DOTD only)

Goldings Free Dive (SATURDAY) - Wellington

Pomeroys Inn - Christchurch (also pouring Triple DOTD)

Day of the Dead and La Calavera Catrina cans and bottles will be available at the following retail stores. We expect more to be added in the coming week:

Farro Fresh - all three stores - Auckland - DOTD Cans.

Liquorland Albert Street - Palmerston North - DOTD Cans.

Regional Wines & Spirits - Wellington - DOTD & Catrina Cans

Moore Wilsons - Wellington - DOTD & Catrina Cans & Bottles

Hashigo Zake - DOTD Cans

Bebemos - DOTD Cans

Australia 

Melbourne will have stock tomorrow, with other cities receiving theirs over the next week. We tried very hard for day and date throughout the country, but this is the best we could manage! 

Due to the long lead times on our current in-house canning system, we were unable to get cans across to Australia, and there are kegs and 650ml bottles only.

Melbourne

On tap

The Alehouse Project - DOTD & Catrina

Terminus - DOTD & Catrina

Bar None - DOTD

Bottles:

Carwyn Cellars - DOTD & Catrina

Grape & Grain - DOTD & Catrina

Williamstown Fine Wine - DOTD & Catrina

Blackhearts & Sparrows - Fitzroy - DOTD & Catrina

Carlton Cellars - DOTD & Catrina

Purvis Cellars - DOTD & Catrina

The Gertrude Hotel - DOTD & Catrina

The Wine Store Essendon - DOTD & Catrina

Cellarbrations Elsternwick - DOTD & Catrina

Press Cellars - DOTD

For those in Wellington, we are holding an extra special launch event at Golding’s Free Dive on Saturday 2nd November.The Golding’s team are going all out to make the bar as festive as possible, and we will be pouring a sneak peak of Triple Day of the Dead - our Imperial version aged in Tequila Barrels!

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Thanks to all the hard work from everyone that went into making these unique beers possible in both can, and bottle, and also to arrange a simultaneous launch in Australia and New Zealand. 

3 July, 2013

YES WE CAN

We are excited to announce that as part of our involvement in the Visa Wellington on a Plate Burger Competition, we will be releasing Garage Project beers in cans! To begin with the cans will only be available at participating Burger Wellington venues, but after the festival ends we will be releasing cans ongoing.

More details on availability will be released shortly.

20 May, 2013

Death From Above

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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.

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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.

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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.

Peace.

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.

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21 December, 2012

Alfresco Baltic

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!