Día de los Muertos 2016
November 02 2016
It’s that time of year again, the veil between the worlds is drawn back and the spirits walk among us. At the Garage it also means the return of some old friends, brewed especially and exclusively for el Dia de los Muertos - Mexico’s Day of the Dead.
It’s been a long wait, but it’s good to see his pale face at the brewery again. Day of the Dead was originally brewed back in 2011 as part of the 24/24 and has made a return visit every year since for el Dia de los Muertos. Originally inspired by the Aztec beverage xocolatl, “a bitter, frothy, spicy drink” combining cocoa and chilli, Day of the Dead is a black lager brewed with smoked chipotle chilli, and conditioned over raw cocoa nibs, vanilla and agave, creating a rich, smooth and complex mix of smoke, chocolate and restrained chilli heat that builds as you drink.
As always Day of the Dead is accompanied by La Calavera 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 Calavera a far more assertive chilli heat than the smoky chipotle of her brother.
This year’s batch, though still spicy, has a more restrained heat than previous years. Chilli can be a fickle mistress and this years harvest of habaneros seems to have pulled their punch somewhat. Though not intentional (we are not normally given to restraint) this reduction in heat has allowed the additions of rose water and watermelon to come far more to the fore, a fun consequence of seasonal variation.
Day of the Dead and La Calavera Catrina will be available in good craft beer bars, restaurants and bottle shops around New Zealand and Australia.
You can also join us in celebrating el Día de los Muertos, and the return of our complex and fiery siblings at the annual Day of the Dead Street Fiesta in the Hannahs Laneway with Golding's Free Dive and the Hannah's Laneway Crew this Saturday from 2pm.
There are also plenty more celebrations further a field to be had!
You can try these special releases at any of the following venues while stocks last
Garage Project Tap Room
One Fat bird
Golding's Free Dive
Brothers Beer Auckland - this weekend!
Craft - Hamilton
Hop House - Mount Maunganui
Common Room - Hastings
Westshore Hotel - Napier
White Swann - Greytown
Cartel - Blenheim
Albar - Dunedin
Smiths - Queenstown
Australia - More on the way!!!
Dutch Trading Co
A true celebration of the dark side.
August 24 2016
When you’re matching a beer with an Anglo-Indian menu that is this authentic, it has to be Pukka alright.
Field & Green is just one year but already the recipient of a restaurant of the the year ‘hat’. And they have recreated Dak Bungalow, a hybrid Anglo-Indian cuisine first created for the British travellers in government guesthouses along the ‘dak’ (mail) route.
To accompany such adventurous cuisine our Pukka India Pale Ale couldn’t be more genuine. The original IPA’s were brewed to mature and improve on the long sea journey to the colonists in India.
So while not quite a six-month journey, we did place our Pukka beer on a boat. No, not on some ‘Boaty McBoatface’ type boat, but on ‘The Lizzie”, which happens to be the oldest surviving racing yacht built in Wellington. Then we sent it on a rollicking journey around Wellington Harbour.
It’s that time of year. It’s Burger Wellington time.
August 15 2016
We love Burger Wellington. For us it’s one of the best events in the Capital’s packed culinary calendar. That’s a bold claim but we think it’s justified.
Just on a purely visceral level burgers are flat out yummy. They generally involve caramelized meat of some kind, perhaps some melted cheese, soft bread, awesome sauce and they often like to hang out with fried potatoes. Maybe it’s just me but I think this reads like a checklist for comfort eating. So what could be better than the opportunity to waddle around Wellington in gluttonous celebration of this most iconic of fast food forms?
But the pleasure of Burger Wellington runs deeper than just sanctioned gastronomic excess. It’s also a collision of high and lowbrow. It’s the high end made humble and the humble made high end. It’s a bit cheeky and irreverent. By the very nature of the event it can never take itself too seriously. It levels the playing field and always, always produces surprises. It messes with convention and blurs boundaries, and above all it’s fun.
We like fun and so four years ago we started the Beer and Burger Match - because the only thing that could possibly elevate the burger experience to another level is to add a can of beer.
The idea is simple, we offer a range of beers to competing venues for them to match with their burgers, and the best match wins. This year’s venues can choose from a range of our standard Garage brews which includes Orange Sunshine, Hapi Daze, Beer, Hops on Pointe, Pils ’n’ Thrills, Garagista, Angry Peaches, Death from Above, Pernicious Weed and Aro Noir. But over the four years that we have been involved in Burger Wellington it’s also become a tradition for us to offer a range of new beers for venues to use in their burger matches.
This year we have three new offerings fresh in the can for anyone taking part in the Burger Challenge.
First up is Hakituri Pilsner, our first ever organic beer. The name refers to Hakituri, the spirit guardians of the forest in Maori mythology. The beer is brewed with 100% organic malts and organic Motueka, Wai-iti and Taiheke. If you haven’t heard of Taiheke before that is because until very recently it was known as New Zealand Cascade. The fact is that hops grown in New Zealand take on their own particular character making them different from those grown overseas, so there is good reason to rename a hop like this to acknowledge this different character. Taiheke means falling water or rapids, which is a nice nod to Cascade. Hakituri is a clean, crisp pilsner with subtle tropical fruit and fresh grassy, citrus hop notes. It’s a cleaner and more subtle hop character than some of our previous Burger Challenge beers, but that snappy bitterness and fresh hop notes should stack up well against even the richest burger.
This year we also have some more challenging offerings for the more adventurous chefs. It is after all a Burger Challenge, not a Burger Cakewalk.
The first of these adventurous brews is Persephone - which just for the record is pronounced “per-seh-fə-nee”, not “per-seh-fone”, so not like “you used to call me on your Persephone”. In Greek mythology, Persephone, was abducted by Hades, lord of the underworld. Eventually freed she was forced to return every year to Hades’ kingdom after eating a single pomegranate seed from the underworld. Her passage from earth to the underworld and her return the following year is said to bring about the changes in the seasons. It’s a cool story and a very classical inspiration for what is definitely not a ‘classical’ beer. Persephone is brewed with a saison yeast, pomegranate molasses and juice, pepper, bitter orange and grapefruit peel and reduced balsamic vinegar. It’s definitely among some of the more unusual flavour combinations we’ve tried but it works, with a whip crack tart character and complexity that definitely won’t be overshadowed by any of the big flavours on offer.
Inspiration for our last Burger Challenge offerings this year is a classic of a very different sort. You know the line “I met her in a club down in North Soho, Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry cola”. Allow me to introduce Lola, cherry cola black lager. With a name inspired by the Kinks’ gender bending classic, this beer is also a nod to the fact that Cola, rather than beer, might claim to be the classic burger companion. The result is a boundary blurring beer that boasts one of the longest list of ingredients we’ve ever used. In addition to the usual malt and hops, Lola also contains cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, bitter orange peel, lemon peel, lavender, lime, vanilla, sour cherries and last, but definitely not least, ethically sourced kola nut extract, kindly sourced by the good people at Karma Cola. The result is Lola, a kinky, whimsical, boundary bending little mind fuck of a beer which should leave you asking... what is it? The answer of course is does it really matter if it feels this good?
So there you are, thirteen different beers for the competing venues to choose from. This year there are a record 116 different burgers on offer. Think about it. Burger Wellington runs for 17 days, so that’s 6.8 burgers a day you’re going to have to eat if you don’t want to miss out. That’s a whole lot of burgers and a whole lot of beers. You’d better get started.
The Freak Show
June 24 2016
Step right up, step right up ladies and gentlemen, the carnival is rolling into town.
Fresh from sell out shows, the Garage Project Brothers present the Freak Show, a curious and wild assortment of beer freaks for your enjoyment and drinking pleasure - featuring the entire and unabridged cast, as imbibed at the GABS festivals in the great cities of Melbourne and Auckland.
Behold Marvellous Madame Mahvash. Do you dare gaze into her cup of divination, filled to the brim with the mysteries of the seven heavens? Madame Mahvash, a powerful, strong blonde ale, brewed with Persian Pashmak in place of the usual candy sugar, infused with rose water, dried omani limes and tinted candy floss pink with a touch of natural magic.
Experience first hand the thrill and terror of the Wolfman. A freak of nature, some say he was conceived in a hopfield, others that he was transformed by his own lust for Humulus lupulus. The result is the untamed creature you see before you, powerful, bitter and infused to his very core with the resinous essence of the hop bine. Be warned, this is not a beer for those who suffer from a delicate disposition.
Be amazed at the mind bending exploits of Fleur et Célia the contortionist twins! Belgian white chocolate blonde and a sour raspberry framboise style ale, in an audacious feat of daring, poured from two taps simultaneously into one glass - a bizarrely twisted and entwined combination of sweet and sour flavours that seemingly meld into one.
Gasp at the death defying feats of the exotic Firebreather, an incendiary concoction direct from the mysterious east. A pilsner yes, but one infused with ginger, turmeric, fenugreek, red pepper and chilli. Please ladies and gentlemen, this is not a spectacle to be sampled by the faint hearted.
Wonder at the bizarre form of the Amazing Hop boy (he’s got hops for brains), brewed with a stupendously dizzying array of over 62 different varieties of hop, many not even named yet.
But wait, something dark stirs down at the carnival grounds. The Old Grinderman sits and begins to crank out his bitter-sweet tune to the shrieks of his simian companion. There’s darkness within. Grinderman, strong milk stout, brewed with oats, chocolate wheat and roast barley, fortified with lactose and infused with a charge of dark roasted ACME coffee. These ingredients combine to create a bitter-sweet coffee hit that’s strong enough to satisfy the monkey on anyone’s back.
Hurry this is a spectacle not to be missed, pouring for a very limited season, only at the Garage Project Taproom - 91 Aro. Come, run away with the circus.
March 11 2016
Always look on the bright side.
Back in our first year at the Garage, as part of the 24/24, we brewed Aro Noir - a stout inspired by the brewery’s unenviable location on the dark side of Aro Valley. For those who have never had the pleasure of living through a Wellington winter in the Valley, on those days that the sun manages to shine, one side of Aro Street is bathed in light, while the other languishes in perpetual gloom.
No points for guessing which side the Garage is on. I used to fantasise about erecting huge mirrors on the sunny side of the street to reflect some of the warmth down to where we squatted in darkness.
Obviously this never happened, but now I think we’ve got something even better - a beachhead on the other side of the valley. This year, while the Garage waits out the winter in darkness, our new Taproom at 91 Aro Street will be basking on the bright side of the street.
So inspired by our new digs we’ve brewed a brand new beer - Brightside.
Brightside is a strong blonde ale - a companion to Aro Noir that is as bright as the other is dark. The ingredients are deceptively simple - just Belgian Pilsner malt, candy sugar and the French hop Aramis. The bright golden result though is far from simple with restrained spice, floral notes and maybe even the slightest hint of bubblegum. Beware, it is deceptively drinkable for its not insubstantial strength of 7.8%.
Brightside will be launched this Sunday at 91 Aro Street, and for now will only be available at our Taproom. So cross over the street and enjoy a little time on the brightside.
Fireworks and Fun
December 02 2015
We haven’t done that many collaborations with other brewers. Prolific collaboration is a bit like speed dating and we’re looking for something a little more meaningful.
A good collaboration is a learning experience, a sharing of techniques and ideas that not only produce some great beers, but also expands the universe of all the brewers involved. The perfect example is the brew we did with Kjetil from Nøgne ø, and our three way collaboration earlier this year with Coedo and Stone in Japan, both of which resulted in unique brews and lasting friendships.
Another brewery we really like is Modern Times from San Diego. They make great beers and have a great approach to brewing. Earlier this year we dropped into their brewery in San Diego and annoyed the crap out of Head Brewer, Matt Walsh. We made him do things for us like show us around, pour us beers, dress up in a little sailor boy suit and dance for us (I made that bit up).
When Matt came to visit us in Wellington last month it provided the perfect opportunity for collaboration. His trip also just happened to fall on firework night - a serendipitous event which provided the inspiration for our collaborative brew - Whizz Bang Hop Rocket IPA. Matt didn’t come empty handed, he managed to mule in a load of experimental US hop #07270, hidden carefully in a body cavity (I made up that bit too). We brought Kiwi hop hero Riwaka to the party, and a load of Gunpowder tea - which seemed only fitting given the date.
The result is a crisp, sparky, bright golden IPA with a truly unique aroma. It’s a great result from a great day - one which naturally ended with a bang.
Leftovers for dinner
November 27 2015
Leftovers were never my favourite, you can ask my Mum.
The fact is though that as a society we create a lot of leftovers, a lot of which is still perfectly good, despite being ‘past its best’. We demand quality. That’s not a bad thing, but it means that these leftovers are destined for the bin. At the same time there are a lot of people who do without - who don’t and can’t share in the abundance that is easy to take for granted.
We could feel a bit shit about this, but while we’re doing that there are people who are doing something about it. Kaibosh, (who we support with The 12 Kegs of Christmas) rescue a whole range of foods for charities to redistribute. There are also others like The Free Store, who collect unused food from a load of cool Wellington businesses (check out the list here) and make it available directly to anyone who wants to come to their converted shipping container at 211Willis Street.
It’s a pretty simple concept but one which makes day to day life just a little bit better for a whole lot of people.
To help The Free Store we’ve made a beer, but it seemed only right to make one in keeping with the concept of using up leftovers.
Let me introduce Mishmash. When we brew a beer there is inevitably some waste. Due to a design fault in our mash tun there is always about 20 litres of strong wort left in the grain-out doorway which won’t drain to our kettle. It drives me nuts. Sure it’s only 20 litres out of 2000, but why waste it. If the brewer has time we try to rescue it by bucketing it into the kettle, but more often than not it’s just dumped to drain.
So for Mishmash we saved this waste wort from two different beers, combined them and created an entirely new beer on our little brew kit. The Free Store then reached out to People’s Coffee and the Wellington Chocolate Factory for bean and cocoa nibs – to create The Free Store Mishmash Mocha Porter. Sure it’s leftovers, but not as you know it.
Photo credit to Tim Kelly Photograph - timkellyphotograpy.com
The Free Store Mishmash Mocha Porter is available at The 1st Annual Free Store Fundraiser at the Southern Cross (another regular Free Store supporter) Sunday. One keg only, with proceeds going to The Free Store.
I also have a feeling that there will be more Mishmash beers, just to show that leftovers can be yummy – you were right Mum, sorry ‘bout that.
Jesse from People's Coffee also wrote a blog post about Free Store Mishmash - check it out here!
November 19 2015
Zoos aren’t what they used to be... which is a good thing really because they used to be a bit shit. Luckily things have changed for the better and we are particularly lucky in Wellington to have a zoo which is committed to doing things in a new way, not only creating a great space for people to interact with animals but also working to protect animals in the wild.
Trade Me are supporters of Wellington Zoo and asked us recently if we’d brew a beer to help raise funds for some of the Zoo’s conservation activities. The Wellington Zoo Trust supports a wide range of conservation initiatives in New Zealand and overseas designed to protect animals in the wild. As the focus for this fundraising effort the Zoo has chosen Cheetah Outreach, an organisation committed to protecting and promoting the wellbeing of wild cheetahs in South Africa. Animal fact - at the turn of the 20th century there were an estimated 100,000 cheetahs living in the wild. Today there are as few as 10,000 left and without urgent help there is a very real chance that the species may wink out of existence altogether. I find that a very disturbing thought.
So we present Zoo Brew, a brand new brew for a new kind of zoo. The beer itself is made with pale malt and sorghum, a grain widely used in traditional African beers, and infused with South African Rooibos tea.
We’ve also enlisted the help of world renowned Wellington-based artist Seraphine Pick who has produced a unique piece of art for the label. This piece will be auctioned, along with several one-off painted beer bottles also by the artist, as part of the fund raising effort.
If you want to support the cause then come down to the Zoo Brew Launch at the Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant this Sunday 22nd November from 2pm. There will be live music all afternoon including Wellington favourites the Nudge, a sausage sizzle with a range of bespoke bangers designed by Island Bay Butchery using Garage Project beers (and including a vegetarian option), loads of family fun, and of course Zoo Brew beer on tap. See you there.
November 05 2015
We’ve just opened a little tasting room across the road from our brewery. By law we must have a low alcohol beer less than 2.5% available. Most bars resort to shelving a dusty six-pack of industrial light beer in the back end of the fridge in order to comply with their legal obligations. This just didn’t feel right so we’ve taken this as a challenge rather than an obstacle.
The result is Fugazi, not only a jolly good band, but also the slang term for fake or something that is not what it appears to be. This is a true sheep in wolf’s clothing - look behind the facade of surprisingly full flavour and the big hop aroma of Simcoe and Nelson Sauvin hops and you'll find our new 2% abv light beer. Sometimes things definitely aren't what they seem.
Día de los Muertos 2015
October 29 2015
Come join us Saturday 31st October for our Annual Day of the Dead Street Fiesta!
If you can't make it down on the 31st of October for the official Garage Project Day of the Dead Fiesta at Golding's Free Dive and Hannah's Laneway - then do not despair! The 2015 batches of Day of the Dead and La Calavera Catrina will be available at some great spots across NZ and Australia around that time. Check the list below and tune in on their channels for more details and release dates. More venues to be confirmed in the coming weeks!
One Fat Bird - www.onefatbird.co.nz
Malthouse - www.themalthouse.co.nz
Bebemos - www.bebemos.co.nz
Bin 44 - www.bin44.co.nz
Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant - www.thecross.co.nz
Kelburn Village Pub
Monica Loves - Napier www.monicaloves.co.nz
Smiths - www.smithscraftbeer.co.nz
AUSTRALIA - OFF-LICENCE
Dutch Trading Co.
The Pour House
Cellarbrations Superstore Hamilton Hill
Cellarbrations Victoria Park
The Freo Doctor
The Liquor Shed
Old Bridge Cellars
Copper and Oak
De Vine Cellars
International Beer Shop
Budburst Small Bar
Liquor Barons Ocean Reef
Willagee Liquor Store
Beer Deluxe Hawthorn
Purvis Surrey Hills
Grain and Grape Yarraville
Williamstown Fine Wine
Grape and Grain Moorabbin
Coach House Ale
Bottles and Barrels
Black Bunny Kitchen
XO Cellars Noosa
XO Cellars Sunshine
Bine Beer Bar
Vine at Cleveland
Craft Wine Store
Malt Traders Emporium
Brisbane Brewing Co.
New South Wales:
Camperdown Cellars Parramatta Rd
Both beers will also be available in 330ml can, 650ml bottle and FYO at select bottle stores throughout Australasia.
August 24 2015
Did you ever wonder what it sounds like when cultures collide?
People have asked where the inspiration for Garage beers comes from? Of course the answer is that it comes from many places, but if I had to pick one moment where that bright light flash of epiphany struck more often than any other I’d have to say it’s two beers in, cooking dinner and always, always with music playing.
Sometimes music is just the conduit through which inspiration flows, sometimes it is the song itself that inspires the beer. Trip Hop was conceived listening to Mezzanine, Pils ‘n’ Thrills, the Dandy Warhols, not to mention Tournesol.
For Wellington on a Plate this year the San Fran Bathhouse approached us with the idea of Music 2 Brew 2 – an evening of music matched to beer and food.
How could we refuse, the only question was how could we best showcase the tunes that have most inspired us?
Enter Hamish McKeich. In fact, Hamish enters our cellar door quite often, not too often you understand, just often enough. Hamish lives in Aro and is a very talented conductor and composer. He does a lot of work with the NZSO and a whole load of NZ’s most talented musos. Also enter Luke Buda. Luke also lives in Aro and plays with the Phoenix Foundation. He is also a cellar door regular (and quite likes to use our loo). With this kind of talent on your doorstep – or cellar door – it would be a shame not to try something a bit different.
So here’s the concept – a super group under the guidance of Hamish made up of the members of the NZSO who like beer (there’s quite a lot of them) with heavy hitting sonic support from Luke Buda, David Long, Joel Haines, throat singer Johnny Marks, and probably a few surprise guests, playing what will be a unique and thoroughly unconventional take on some low cultural classics in three sets, each set matched to a different musically inspired beer and food.
Set one is Garage regular California Über Alles, matched with Paua Wontons, chilli quince sauce and the music of the Dead Kennedys, played of course by a classical ensemble.
Set two is Golden Brown but not as you have come to know it. At our first birthday party everyone was so wankered on strong beer that we quickly came to the decision that we had a duty of care to brew some less boozy brews. Consequently, Golden Brown was brewed at a lower strength. But for Music 2 Brew 2 we’ve gone all rock ‘n’ roll and present to you Original Strength Golden Brown back to an old school 7%. This is matched with Smoked moki korroke, pickled chilli beetroot, and green sauce and of course the music of the inimitable Stranglers.
And finally, a brand new beer, brewed especially for the evening. If I’m ever in a shit mood at the brewery, I’ve noticed that my brewers and cellar door team often put on Sonic Youth to sooth me – bless them. So for the last set we present Dirty Boots, a big, juicy American Pale Ale, brewed in homage to music of Sonic Youth. This will be paired with roasted pork belly in an IPA reduction, stirfried puha and a whole load of classical distortion and feedback. Of course I’m hoping someone will smash their cello over the Marshall as a finale, but no promises.
Just in case you ever wondered this is the noise that high and low culture make when they smash head long into each other. If you want to hear for yourself Garage Project’s Music 2 Brew 2 is on August 27 at the San Fran Bathhouse… grab your tickets from the Wellington On A Plate website.
'Tis the Season
August 22 2015
You need a little something to cheer you up this time of year. It may not be mid winter but it feels like it. It’s no accident that Christmas in the Northern hemisphere is a time of feasting. In the bleakest heart of winter a little bit of raucous fun, some good food and a drink can go a good way to dispelling seasonal gloom.
This year, for Wellington on a Plate, The Bresolin have asked us to join them in a celebration of the more ancient and pagan aspects of mid Winter revelry in Tis the Season - a five course feast, each course matched with a special Garage Project brew.
Now, back in the days before science unravelled the mysteries of fermentation, the transformation of sweet liquid into alcohol was seen as a religious or magical experience. I know the science behind fermentation, but I still think there’s a little magic at work. A pagan mid-winter feast is the perfect opportunity to finally have a go at recreating and reinterpreting some of the brews that would have helped to dispel the cares of festive revelers hundreds, maybe even thousands of years ago.
We’ve gone all out for this event with a top shelf favourite, two unique event brews, a new release beer and a very special pimped up Garage classic.
The evening will begin with a glass of our Hellbender barley wine. It’s a pretty modern interpretation of a very old style, a beer which is intentionally brewed out of balance only to come into its own as it ages and its flavours mellow and fuse. It’s a powerful little number and should kindle a little merry glow to get things off to a festive start.
We then have a very interesting brew and not a beer at all. Brewed especially for this event Pernicious Mead is a first for the Garage Project, a true mead brewed entirely with Beechwood Honey, and seasoned with black tea, Jasmine flowers and lemon. Perhaps one of the most ancient and a surprisingly bright and effervescent drop.
This is followed by a beer that I’ve wanted to brew since I first read about it many years ago - Gruit, an ancient beer brewed with a concoction of bitter herbs, roots and flavourings. This is how beer was brewed before hops took their hegemonic hold on the brewing world. This is Gruit is bittered with Wormwood (one of dominant the flavouring herbs in Absinthe), Yarrow and Horehound, flavoured with Licorice, Dandelion and Burdock root and finished with Meadow Sweet and Manuka Tips. This is a truly unique brew, and will only be available at this event.
And then a new Garage release. Artful Dodger - a nice juicy English Pale Ale with a ‘twist’, brewed with new wave English hops Jester and Archer, and hand pumped straight from the firkin - the perfect pint to accompany spit roast pig.
And finally, to top off, a very special little something we’ve had tucked away for a while, some of the very last of our Cockswain’s Courage porter that has been barrel aged on figs and prunes. It’s a pretty decadent ale, almost like a liquid booze soaked Christmas pudding, guaranteed to put you in the mood for carol singing - or perhaps something a little more pagan.
'Tis the Season runs over 3 nights - Sunday 23rd, Monday 24th, Tuesday 25th August from 6pm at the Brezolin. Grab your tickets from the Wellington On A Plate website.
Wrap up warm with your favourite Christmas Jumper, grab a sprig of mistletoe & come prepared for some festive fun.
Merry Welly winter one and all.
This is my dog
July 29 2015
This is my dog. She’s an SPCA special.
She likes eating radishes (weird) and long walks on the beach. She also used to like eating cat turds, but I’ve suggested that that isn’t something we really like to do in polite company.
People often ask what breed she is? The answer is probably staffie crossed with something big and wrinkly.
By all accounts she didn’t have the best of starts. When the SPCA rescued her and and her two surviving brothers they were so malnourished that they were almost bald from mange. When we first saw her she looked like a scrotum - which is harsh, but true.
I’d taken my kids up to the SPCA for a look around. She was possibly the ugliest critter I’d ever seen, but she was definitely the most affectionate. When we left I couldn’t stop thinking about her. We went back to see her again, and a week later she was home with us.
I wanted to call her Scrotum Faced Killa, but my kids vetoed my choice - which is harsh, but fair. They wanted to call her Nim, and they have more votes than me.
When I chatted to the people up at the SPCA I found out that Nim’s Mum didn’t make it, which is sad.
People can be really shit to animals at times. I don’t know why, there are lots of reasons, none of which really count as an excuse. Luckily there are also people who really like animals and work very hard to look after them and give them the best life possible. A lot of these people work at the SPCA. It’s not easy and they appreciate any help they can get.
For two years running Golding’s Freedive Bar and Garage Project have run a special event for the SPCA. Judging by the support people have shown at these gigs there are actually a reassuring number of people who do care for animals - which is nice.
This year we managed to raise $6000. Thank you to Dylan, who made all the tap badges ( (he really is quite a clever and funny chap) and especially big thanks to all of you who came along, drank beer, ate food, played with dogs and helped to make this possible. Next year we’ll do even better.
Just so you know, Nim is now happy, healthy and much loved. We’re taking the whole cat turd thing one day at a time - but there are significant signs of improvement.
Dogs are a bit like beers - often the most interesting ones are ‘outside style guidelines’. If you’ve been thinking about getting a pet, you’ve got the space and the time, I’d recommend a trip to the SPCA . You never know what you might find.
Beer then wine, you'll be fine
July 09 2015
Remember the old adage ‘never mix grape and grain’?
For three years running we’ve taken a perverse pleasure in challenging this taboo with a series of wine inspired beers celebrating the grape harvest.
If you find the idea of wine beer challenging, then perhaps it’s best to think of these brews as fruit beers… just fruit beers made with grapes. Does that make it feel better?
With each beer we’ve taken the basic idea of infusing each batch of wort (the brewed liquid that will become beer) with freshly crushed grape juice and then fermenting the two together. The result is much more than just wine added to beer. The fermented comingling of the two liquids is truly an illicit tryst, all the more intense by its forbidden nature – almost like a romance between the offspring of feuding families.
For our first harvest we brewed Sauvin Nouveau, a pilsner wort, extravagantly hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops, and then ferment with freshly pressed Sauvignon Blanc juice from Martinborough’s wonderful Palliser Estate. Maybe it was wrong, but it felt so right - so right in fact that the following year we brewed it again, and added the Pinot Noir inspired Château Aro, a dark rubescent beer, brewed with not only the freshly crushed juice but also the skins of pinot noir grapes from the award winning Escarpment Winery.
For the 2015 vintage, Sauvin Nouveau is back. Château Aro is too, but this year’s vintage has been tucked away in freshly emptied Escarpment oak pinot barrels, to be seen again at a later date.
But this year I also wanted to try one more brew. Now I’ll premise this by saying that I am very fond of this beer, but it is imperfect. The idea was to create a Rosé inspired beer – a pale pilsner, brewed with the same hop variety we used for our Hop Trial No. 1, infused with Pinot juice and rested on the red Pinot skins for 48 hours, enough time to lend the brew a pink hue, but not the tannins associated with longer contact with the skins.
It was a beautiful plan. In practice, after running in the wort and Pinot juice there was bugger all room left in the tank for all the skins we’d planned to add, so with beer gushing out of the top of the tank we crammed in what we could and had to call it quits.
So the result is not quite what I had envisaged – the colour change from pale pilsner was wonderful, but only to the point that is described in rosé parlance as ‘onion skin’ orange with a light blush of pink in the foam. I’d hoped for a richer hue, perhaps a light rose petal pink. However, any disappointment is tempered by the delightful crisp citrus and strawberry notes of the beer itself.
Brewing is full of lessons. Next year more skins… and a bigger tank.
June 09 2015
A funny thing happened on the way to making Bossa Nova.
Sometimes things aren’t what they seem. For example, I always thought Pluto was a planet – now apparently it’s not. Go figure.
Almost exactly a year ago, on a trip to the States, I dropped into the White Labs tasting room on Candida Street, San Diego. White Labs is a yeast bank who commercially culture and distribute yeast to breweries, wine makers and anyone interested in fermentation (I don’t know if the street was named that before they were there, but I will ask).
A quick word about yeast. Yeast is the real star of brewing. When people talk about beer and brewing, yeast often gets upstaged by flashy talk of hops and malt. This is a travesty. For starters, without yeast there would be no beer, no wine, no cider or spirits, and then, as if that wasn’t depressing enough, your bread would be all flat and lifeless. Things would be altogether a bit shit really.
This aside, yeast also has a truly profound impact on the flavour of beer. Imagine if you were to divide up a batch of wort (the name for the liquid that with yeast’s help will become beer) into a dozen different vessels, pitch each vessel with a different strain of yeast and allow them to ferment – when you tasted the finished beers in many cases they would be so radically different that you’d be hard pressed to pick them as having come from the same base liquid.
At the White Labs tasting room you really don’t have to imagine this because it is exactly what they do. There are over 30 taps, offering base beers fermented with different yeasts from their catalog of over 100 strains. A bit geeky you might think, but this is catnip for brewers. The impact of the different yeast strains on the flavour of the beers was amazing – sometimes the effect created subtle nuances, sometime the result was astoundingly different. The whole experience was fascinating, but the undisputed highlight for me was undoubtedly a beer fermented with 100% Brettanomyces Buxellensis Trois.
You may have heard of Brettanomyces, perhaps in hushed tones. If you have not, Brettanomyces is the unruly cousin of brewers yeast. If brewers yeast is like domesticated livestock then Brettanomyces is more akin to a wild mountain goat. If you’ve ever watched a shepherd at work you’ll know it’s hard enough trying to herd domesticated sheep – imagine what it’s like trying to control a mob of their wild cousins.
It’s exactly the same for brewers. Conventional brewing wisdom suggests that Brettanomyces is not something you want to invite willingly into your brewery. Apocryphal stories abound of Brett escaping and running rampant in breweries and wineries. I’ve heard stories of it permeating inches deep in the concrete floors of wineries and of breweries having to virtually start again from scratch, scrapping all their equipment and even their brewery site, to eliminate Brett from their beers. Brettanomyces really is the boogeyman of brewing.
Still some brave brewers embrace Brett. If you have ever tasted a well aged bottle of the famous Belgian brew Orval, you’ll know what Brettanomyces can taste like. But what I tasted at White Labs was nothing like this and absolutely nothing like what I was expecting. This Brett ferment was full of sharp, zesty pineapple and mango flavours with just a touch of tartness.
This was an epiphinal moment, followed by a bout of intense inner conflict between the part of me that thought that a beer that tasted like pineapple and mango was pretty fucking awesome and the significant other bit of me that was just shit scared of bringing Brett into the brewery.
Finally, when we were coming up with this year’s GABS beer, the creative bit won out – but only after the shit scared part made the creative part promise to sterilise everything the beer came in contact with, bleach everything around the tank and basically be really anally retentive. What followed was a month of intense paranoia, manifesting in sleepless nights, endless hours of sterilising, and a battle between an imagined menace and literally hundreds of litres of bleach and thousands of litres of scalding water.
But finally – we have a beer. Bossa Nova, Brett fermented, tropical fruit salad IPA. The idea was to take the intense pineapple and mango character of the yeast I’d tasted in San Diego, add El Dorado, Equinox, Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy, all hops with a pronounced tropical fruit character, and salad of tropical fruit including passionfruit, guava, papaya, pineapple, mango and lychee. Some beers are harder to brew than others – this has been the toughest. But the result, an intense complex tropical sherbet hit of hops and fruit with just a touch of sharpness.
Then a funny thing happened. Someone in the States ran a DNA test on Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois and got in touch with White Labs questioning if it really was a strain of Brett. White Labs responded by assuring them that the strain was from a legitimate source, but said that they would look into it.
So they looked into it and guess what? Apparently, not only is Pluto not a planet, and but Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois isn’t a strain of Bretannomyces. The strain formally known as Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois is now known as Saccharomyces ‘Bruxellensis’ Trois. Not a conventional brewers yeast, rather it is a wild strain, but still technically not Brettanomyces. Go figure.
But, you know what? Who gives a shit. Taxonomy is dull. Pluto still rocks, even if it is a non-planet, and Saccharomyces ‘Bruxellensis’ Trois still tastes like mango and pineapple. That’s still pretty cool.
Sea Of Green
April 15 2015
“for any true hop enthusiast a trip to the hop fields really is something akin to a spiritual experience and not an opportunity to be passed up.”
I wrote that back in 2011 when I visited the New Zealand hop harvest for the first time, and it still holds true.
If you love beer you will love the hop fields.
Walking through a hop field is a sensual experience in the truest sense of the word. When you walk between the rows of bines you have a sense of being totally immersed in a sea of green. You are cut off from the rest of the world. All you can see is a 16 foot high corridor of green disappearing ahead and receding behind. It’s not a dull green, it’s almost luminous. It strikes me that there are a frustrating lack of words in English to describe the green of a hop field. If a colour can be exuberant then that is exactly what hops are. From the lush dark green of the leaves to the verdant lime of the cones that hang everywhere in dense clusters. The rows of hops stifle sound but the smell is intense, especially as the hops reach their harvest peak. It’s a resinous, earthy citrus, with a touch of raw onion and garlic (which sounds bad but isn’t) and far more than a hint of hops illegal cousin. It is heady. All I can say is that it is special. I find it moving. If I had to describe the feeling I get when I walk through the hop field I’d have to say that it reminds me of the feeling I’d have as a child waking up on Christmas morning.
Oldham's Farm March '12
This year we’ve been lucky enough to work alongside New Zealand Hops and the Plant and Food Research team based in Motueka trialing some of the new hop varieties they’ve produced. When they made the offer to visit them for harvest I jumped at the chance to share this experience with some of those who have joined the Garage Project. We’ve grown since I hauled our 50 litre brewery to the harvest back in 2012 to brew in the hop fields. We now have a great little team of passionate young brewers at the Garage, but none of them had ever been to the hop fields before. The spiritual dimension aside, visiting the hop harvest as a brewer is a sobering reminder of the immense amount of work that goes into producing the raw materials required to make beer. Brewers often hog the limelight but frankly we’d be buggered without the work of the hop growers, the maltsters and researchers who produce new varieties we all love to get our hands on.
We walked fields, saw the hops in all their verdant glory, we helped to hand harvest the bines at the research station in Motueka and then, back in Wellington at the brewery got to brew a beer with fresh green cones, chilled rather than dried and delivered straight from the fields. Sea of Green, is the result, a fresh, crisp Pilsner bursting with the unique aroma and flavour of freshly harvested New Zealand hops. As a brewer, I can say with all honesty that it doesn’t get much better than seeing the hops in the ground, helping to pick them and then brewing with the fresh cones, all within a matter of days.
After visiting the hop harvest again I remain convinced that it is a spiritual experience and after this trip I know I have a team of converts.
If you want a taste of the freshest hop harvest beers that New Zealand has to offer then make sure you take part in this year’s Hopstock. Sea of Green will be available at The Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant from today while stocks last.
Day of the Dead 2014
November 01 2014
The first of November is finally here bringing with it Day of the Dead and La Calavera Catrina! These sought after brews are out now and available in the following locations. More stores may be added but this list will steer you in the right direction over the weekend.
This year we have once again bottled, and canned both beers. Bottled stock is on the way to Australia, and we expect to see it start to hit shelves this coming week!
Auckland - on tap
Auckland - cans
Farro Fresh - Grey Lynn
Farro Fresh - Constellation Ave
Super Liquor Howick
Glengarry - Victoria Park, Jervois Rd, Ponsonby, Dominion Rd, Devenport, Kingsland, Grey Lynn
Tauranga - cans
Mt Maunganui - cans
Liquorland Mt Maunganui
Waikato - cans
Rose on Roberts (Taupo)
Hamilton Beer & Wine Co.
Super Liquor Hillcrest
Taranaki - Manawatu
Liquorland Albert Street
Liquorland Devon Street
Wellington - on tap & cans
Golding’s Free Dive
Rogue & Vagabond
Wellington - on tap
Wellington - cans
Regional Wines & Spirits
New World Metro
Karori Cellar Room
Crafters & Co
Glengarry Thorndon Quay
Nelson - cans
Fresh Choice Richmond
Christchurch - on tap
Christchurch - cans
Fresh Choice Parklands
Fresh Choice Merivale
Dunedin - cans
And of course, the Garage Project Cellar Door!
October 25 2014
Necessity is the mother of invention, but if she filed a paternity suit, my money would be on cock-up being the father.
Last year we had a little disaster. A 2000 litre tank of Trip Hop failed to ferment properly. I suspect a dud batch of yeast but despite every effort it simply ground to a halt. It’s not that it had an infection or any off flavours, it just seemed to lose interest. It didn’t taste bad, it just didn’t taste like Trip Hop should.
It’s not easy passing the death sentence on a brew. At other breweries I’ve seen a number of tanks go down the drain, or more inventively, be shipped off to begin a new life as malt vinegar – but we’d never had to make this call at the Garage, touch wood we won’t again. How would you feel saying goodbye to 4000 pints of beer?
There had to be another way.
At the time we just happened to have acquired a reasonable number of used white wine barrels. With nothing to lose, we packed as much death row Trip Hop we could into these barrels and dosed each one with a cocktail of Brettanomyces strains, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. Although they are among the most feared of ‘beer spoilage’ organisms, these little critters are the basis of the European Lambic style and also have a penchant for unfermented sugars – just the ticket for a ‘stuck ferment’. So the lion’s share of the tank got a last minute reprieve, the rest was read its last rites. We tucked the barrels away safely and forgot about them.
A year and a half later we’ve tentatively tapped a barrel and packed a lone keg off to the Pacific Beer Expo. Thoroughly changed by its year of quiet reflection this beer now definitely doesn’t taste like Trip Hop. This batch of Trip Hop may be dead – but long live Trip Hazard. It’s not your normal brew, but it’s all the more interesting for it.
If you want to taste Trip Hazard you’ll have to get yourself down to The Pacific Beer Expo, this Saturday and Sunday 25-26 October.
Remember, cock-up is the father of invention.
Five Hop Down to Hashi
October 19 2014
“I say – this has boiled up into quite an adventure, hasn’t it?” – The Famous Five
This Monday 20th of October, Hashigo Zake is celebrating its fifth birthday.
Golly, five years!
Hashigo Zake will forever hold a special place in the collective Garage Project heart. Back in 2011, when Garage Project consisted of a 50 litre brew kit and a couch in a derelict service station, Hashigo Zake were absolute bricks. Our first ever beers were poured through the Hashigo taps and they were willing to take a punt on us, giving us a tap every Tuesday night for the 24/24. Without their support and encouragement, who knows how things would have turned out?
And of course it’s not just the Garage that Hashigo have given a much needed helping hand. It’s hard to overstate the importance of Hashigo’s contribution to Wellington’s craft beer scene. They’ve supported all new comers with equal and even handed enthusiasm and been the outspoken champions of good beer, all the time offering punters the newest, freshest and best beer in Wellington.
To celebrate we’ve taken up Hashigo’s challenge to brew a ‘five’ themed beer. We’ve called it Five Hop Down to Hashi. It’s a rather hoppy little IPA using five smashing new ‘unnamed’ NZ trial hops, added every five minutes throughout the boil. It certainly is jolly resinous! Be warned, there are only two 20L kegs of this beer… just like the old days.
So make sure you get down to Hashigo Zake this Monday. You know the drill, things kick off at 5pm with loads of smashing birthday fun.
Needless to say, there’ll be lashings of awfully good beer.
[The original GP / Hashigo Zake launch poster]
[Coming out of retirement for a very special brief, the mysterious King Rat contributed the art for ‘Five Hop Down to Hashi’.]
Something to Celebrate
April 20 2014
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.
Dark Days Indeed
February 02 2014
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
November 22 2013
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 is now available throughout Wellington bars and at the Garage Project cellar door.
November 18 2013
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.
November 15 2013
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.
So drop by and give it a spin. There’s only 30L so it won’t last long.
Pete & Jos