From their small brewery in Aro Valley, Wellington, Garage Project has been reinventing the wheel thanks to their invigorating brewing methods and concepts.
As a favourite both on our shores and in New Zealand, Perth craft beer lovers will be delighted to find that Garage Project will be heading to this year’s Perth Craft Beer Festival.
As such, we thought it’d be best to get acquainted with them ahead of the festival — read on to do the same!
Since starting your humble garage brewery in 2011, which milestones have been the most defining?
There have been a number of milestones over the years that we are very proud of, though the highlights are almost always the feedback and support we get at festivals. It’s where we can really connect with our drinkers and see the responses firsthand as to how are beers are being received. There is nothing like the buzz of a festival and the excitement around bringing something new for people to try.
Garage Project recently dominated the GABS Hottest 100 Kiwi Craft Beers for 2018. What do you think draws people most to your beers?
We do our best in the Garage to brew and release beers that excite us, and in the process, we hope that they will resonate with a wider audience. We’re trying to push boundaries and change the perception of what beer can be. When you give people an experience that is genuinely new and different, it’s very powerful and memorable.
Does each member of the team have a particular favourite brew that you have created?
I think we all go through phases of enjoying our different beers more for different reasons — for example, it may depend on the time of the year, or a new release that we’re particularly proud of. The ongoing FRESH series has become very popular within the brewery, and within the Wild Workshop there is now a steady stream of new barrels and blends to try, which is particularly exciting!
This year you’ve released a brand new IPA, Talk to the Hand, in honour of New Zealand Sign Language week. What was the inspiration behind this and what has the response been so far?
The inspiration for Talk to the Hand came from an idea Pete had to brew a beer as a collaboration with one of our team members, Ryan, who communicates through NZSL. We’ve run NZSL courses within the brewery for a number of years now, and it seemed like a great idea to spread the awareness further.
Ryan is also a talented illustrator, so it was an easy fit to work with him on the art for the cans and illustrate the signs required to order a beer. The response was fantastic and it was brilliant to see people getting on board with the idea in such an enthusiastic way.
Garage Project has been known to push boundaries when it comes to brewing, from using volcanic rocks to submarines to create iconic beers. Could you elaborate on these experimental ideas?
Our mission within the Garage is to change beer forever. We look to do that by brewing and serving beers in new and different ways through a variety of techniques and ideas. The thing we love about beer is that we can approach it in completely different ways — be it how we brew, how we serve, the ingredients used, and it helps give people an experience that haven’t had before.
We work hard to not produce stunt beers or one-off gimmicks, and often take inspiration from areas outside of traditional brewing and work to bring them back into the Garage. Above all else, we want to have fun — and who doesn’t want to use mini subs to brew a beer if possible?
Who are the designers that create the dynamic artwork for your brand?
We work with a wide range of artists and designers to create our labels. The vast majority are based within Wellington and New Zealand, and then a small number of them are international. We are very fortunate with the creative talent available in Wellington, and it’s a part of the brewery that Pete and myself love working on. Later this month we have a book releasing called The Art of Beer that celebrates 100 of our beer artworks, the artists and the stories behind them.
What does the future hold for Garage Project? (Aside from the Perth Craft Beer Festival, of course!)
We are very excited about a number of projects we’ve been developing lately. Our Hāpi Research project has us taking an active role in a new hop breeding program, so we’re helping to create new and exciting hops that we’ll get to brew with.
Our Wild Workshop site in Wellington is maturing to the point where we have very interesting wild and native fermented beers coming through. On top of that, we’re continuing to develop and build out GP cellar doors and taprooms — with hopefully one in Australia this year!
Finally, what can we look forward to you bringing to the Perth Craft Beer Festival?
We love pouring our beers in Perth and are excited for the upcoming festival. We haven’t announced the tap list just yet, but expect it to be a line covering the full range of GP — fresh hoppy beers, Wild Workshop sours, and a few extra surprises as well!