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 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.
December 21 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.
The Chosen Few
December 17 2012
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.
North American Scum*
November 21 2012
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
Caledonia Über Alles
November 08 2012
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!
Pie vs Cake
October 30 2012
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.
October 01 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.
September 25 2012
Don’t get me wrong, we love Aro, but let’s be honest, it’s an interminably long, damp, dark bastard of a winter in the Valley. It’s made worse by the fact that which ever deity is in charge of Wellington’s weather clearly does not bestow his/her love equally. As anyone who has ever lived in the Valley knows, in the middle of winter, one side of the street gets all the sun, while the other moulders in perpetual gloom.
No guesses which side of the street we’re on.
Perhaps it was one of the early symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, but there were days when I’d stand at the garage doors peering out from the shadows at the sun drenched houses on the other side of the street, and I swear I’d begin fantasizing about building some kind of giant fuck off mirror on the other side of the street so that we could share their warmth.
Inspired by what is now two winters on the ‘dark side of the street’ comes Aro Noir, one of the stars of the 24, and a personal favourite of mine. I have been asked a number of times what my favorite Garage Project beer is. I’ve always been reluctant to answer– but this would have to be one of them. It’s pitch black and full flavoured but with a nice balance of hops and roast malt character. At its heart is English Maris Otter pale malt, with a touch of Crystal and a generous addition of Roast and Black malts. The hops are American, Chinook and Summit, creating a nice citric bitterness and aroma which marries nicely with the roast malt character. At 7.1% abv it’s rich but not heavy or cloying.
Yes, it is inspired by the darkness of a Wellington winter in Aro Valley, but truly it is a stout for all seasons.
Join us on the dark side.
It’s been called Wellington’s worst kept secret. It’s no secret really, but we have been careful not to mouth off too much about what has been going on in the Garage this year. Why? The fact is starting a brewery isn’t easy. Things can go wrong, even when the goal seems so close you can almost taste the first brew. That’s why we’ve been keeping stum.
But to be honest, the other day, surrounded in our garage forecourt by tens of tonnes of shining stainless steel brewing equipment, as people streamed down Aro Street on their way to work, the idea of keeping things under wraps any longer seemed a little pointless.
Over a decade of dreaming, years of preparation and planning, months of gruelling hard work, negotiation and submissions to council, sleepless nights and moments of doubt, twelve hours of intense forklifting and we’re almost there.
And we’re stoked.
The kit’s a 10 US barrel system from American manufacturers Premier Stainless. It’s a brew kit with a story behind it, not originally destined for us, but it fits the Garage like it was made for it. They say pride comes before the fall, so I’m trying hard to restrain myself, but it’s enough to say that there’s been nothing to disappoint so far.
At the moment we’re making the last connections and putting the finishing touches to chilling, plumbing and electrics. It’s pure pleasure after months of preparation, planning and worry. You can almost taste the first brew. Fingers crossed.
24/24 Wrap Up
February 23 2012
Jos has been busy. Among other things he’s been compiling the coaster feedback from the 24/24. It makes for an interesting read. Jos, in inimitable style, has pulled many of the comments together into word clouds. It’s fascinating to look into the cloud and see people’s responses - to see in some cases how different people’s reactions can be to the same beer.
(Word Cloud of all the 24/24 coaster feedback comments)
And which beer came out on top? The number 1 spot belongs to Day of the Dead, our chilli chocolate black lager, launched on November 1 to coincide with El Día de los Muertos - Mexico’s Day of the Dead. For those who loved Day of the Dead, we’ve just been down to Three Boys to brew a special, high strength Double Day of the Dead. Most of the beer will be going to Australia for the Great Australian Beer Spectapular (not a typo) to be held in Melbourne in May, but a few kegs might find their way to some of Wellington’s better craft beer bars.
(Day of the Dead Feedback comments)
Coming in neck and neck in second place were Pernicious Weed and Trip Hop, two of the most hoppy offerings in the 24. We liked these brews too, and kegs of both Pernicious Weed and Trip Hop, the fruits of last months trip to Three Boys, will be appearing in good Wellington bars over the coming weeks.
Other big favourites from the 24 were the Dr Grordbort’s inspired Venusian Pale Ale (VPA) and Lord Cockswain’s Courage Porter, our hoppy stout Aro Noir (brewed on the dark side of the street), and the first of our coffee collaborations with People’s Coffee, the Peoples Project No. 1 Coffee Bock.
And then, there is the inevitable question, which beer came in last? Perhaps no surprise, it was the beer which polarized drinkers more than any other. It was of course the infamous Green Coffee Saison. Not to everyone’s taste certainly, but still a beer we’re proud to have tried. Experimentation was what Garage Project promised and we think we delivered.
(Peoples Project #2 Feedback Comments)
And you can expect more to come. We’ve already planned over 24 more limited release experimental brews, to be small batch brewed on our pilot plant over the year ahead. We also have plans for more brewing equipment, meaning that we’ll be able to craft bigger batches of the best beers from our experimental runs. This should mean that more of you should be able to try the best of Garage Project.
It should be a fun year ahead.
Little Kölsch Project
February 13 2012
There was loose talk about this Kölsch back in November of last year. The idea was to design a crisp little Kölsch with Little Beer Quarter in mind, something to sip while sitting in one of Wellington’s more notable laneways.
A flurry of tweets were traded and there was even a ‘think up a Kölsch name’ competition. However, this excitement may have been a little premature given that Kölsch is a beer that needs time. Lots of time.
In fact this beer has been lagering now for over three months. The result is an incredibly pale, straw coloured beer, with a crisp white head, a delicately perfumed aroma from the addition of Motueka and Galaxy hops, a smoothness that comes from sitting around at near freezing point for three months and finished with a hint of tartness from an addition of German acidulated malt. The bad news, there is only one 19ltr keg of our experimental Little Kölsch Project so chances are it will be a fleeting visit to LBQ (I believe Stu from Yeastie Boys put forward the name - cheers!).
The good news, Little Kölsch Project will not be the only Garage Project beer available. There will also be a return visit from two of our 24 series, our ANZAC Amber ale, brewed with toasted oats and golden syrup, and Pernicious Weed, our hop driven IPA, a big favourite in the 24 but definitely not a beer for the faint hearted. So, three Garage Project beers, in one bar, on one night. A first outside the hallowed walls of Hashigo Zake.
More bad news… there’s only one keg of each. Available only at LBQ this Wednesday 15th from 5.30pm till the kegs run dry. Might see you there.