Who and Why?
Let us introduce ourselves
The Garage Project is Pete Gillespie, Jos Ruffell, and Ian Gillespie.
When we started out we were tiny. Garage Project wasn't even micro brewing… it was a truly nano brewery.
After nine years of working in breweries with equipment 100 times bigger it was quite a change to downsize to a fifty litre brew kit. But what we lacked in size we more than made up for in agility and the ability to experiment.
When you’re brewing on such a small scale you can
afford to take risks. That suited us. We wanted to try something new.
Five years have passed and we’ve grown, but that same ethos still shapes how we do things at the Garage. Whether we’re brewing 50 litres or 2000, we’re still here to take some risks, to have a bit of fun and to try something new.
Way back in the day, when we were just starting out, we wrote a little blurb about each other to shed some light on who we are, and what lead us down the path of starting a brewery in Wellington, (if you’ve ever written your own bio, you’ll know how hard it can be!).
Behind every great brewery is a brewer, and our man at the Garage Project is Pete Gillespie. It’s a classic story in New Zealand of the big OE taking many years longer than initially expected, and for Pete it was no different.
An aborted academic career lead to Pete chasing his passion and throwing himself into the world of brewing.
After a decades experience working in breweries across the UK and Australia, Pete decided it was time to move on from his then position at the Maltshovel, and fulfill the dream of every brewer, and establish his very own brewery.
When I caught wind of Pete’s plans, I knew there could be no better place to establish the brewery than in Wellington.Fortunately for me (and for us!), after repeat visits to his original hometown (bred, not born), Pete quickly agreed.
Pete’s passion and dedication to the Garage Project has been absolute. I am incredibly lucky to be on this journey with him, and I know he can’t wait to get cracking and start the kettle. We’re in for a treat. [Jos]
I’ve known Jos since he was born… he had less hair then.
He and my brother were born three months and four houses apart on the same street. They’ve been friends ever since.
Jos has always been determined. He was never really one to listen to people who told him how to do things. He was always willing to follow his own path and try things his own way. I like that. Nothing’s changed.
If you drink anywhere in Wellington that serves great beer, you’ve probably seen Jos around. Any new beer on tap that’s worth trying and he’ll be there, you can count on it.
When I was thinking about coming back to Wellington to set up a brewery it was Jos who clinched it. His enthusiasm is infectious. He even recently left his job to devote time to the Garage Project. His commitment is inspiring.
He’s not a brewer, but his unshakable passion for beer, for thinking outside the box and asking is there a better, more creative way of doing things make him every bit as important to the Project as the guy who mashes in in the morning (me). [Pete]
As Pete mentions, I’ve been fortunate enough to have Ian as my best friend my entire life. We’ve always stuck together, in work and play.
To start the Garage Project without Ian’s involvement was never considered by Pete or myself. After all, it was Pete who got Ian into craft beer, to then pass the bug down to me! [Jos]
Ian’s awesome, but then I’m biased… he’s my brother.
Ian is many things to the Project. It was Ian who brought me back to NZ after being away for almost two decades. It was Ian who got Jos and I talking about the idea of a brewery in Wellington and it’s Ian who is the glue which holds things together. We were also squatting in his garage in the beginning.
To know Ian is to love him, there’s no sitting on the fence. Ian’s the people guy. He’s run and set up cafés. He brought an energy to these places which drew people like a magnet.
Ian might say he’s a jack of all trades, master of none, I’d say he just has the knack of being great at anything he sets his hand to. He’d do anything for you.
He’s the kind of guy you want at your back.
Did I mention he’s my brother? [Pete]
Aro Valley, Wellington
It was way back in 2011 when we moved into the Garage.
It was a derelict petrol station and car workshop with a colourful history. It had been a Jaguar workshop, run by a female race car driver and mechanic Sybil Lupp, but by the time we came to Aro looking for a space to start our brewery, the building had seen better days. I remember sitting on a dusty old couch, surrounded by rusting cars, cobwebs and cardboard boxes, watching the rats running along the rafters, and wondering what we’d got ourselves into.
It took a while but we cleaned it up enough to pass the local council health regs and moved in with our little pilot brewery. Back then this is what we wrote…
Welcome to the Garage Project.
To start with we’ll be tiny. This won’t even be micro brewing… it’ll be a truly nano brewery. What we lack in size we will more than make up for in agility and the ability to experiment.
We’re here to try something new. We’re starting small. Want to see where we end up?
Some things have changed since then, but not everything. Things are a little bigger now. After 24/24 we were able to get a bigger brewery. We brewed on that for a year before we outgrew it and opted for another twice it’s size. We got a bottling machine and canning machine and we’ve added a cellar door where you can taste and takeaway the changing line up of Garage beers. We’ve still got the 50 litre kit, you can still see it at work from the cellar door.
We’re bigger but we still like to keep things interesting. It’s still a work in progress- it will always be the Garage Project. Pete Gillespie - Head Brewer