Garage Project in Wellington, NZ, had small – you could say nano – beginnings. “We didn’t have a lot of money to get started,” explains co-founder Pete Gillespie. “We found this disused garage – an old service station in the Arlo Valley – and we started brewing on this tiny home brew kit. It was capable of making about 40 litres of beer at a time so we decided intentionally that we wanted to do things a little bit differently.”
As Pete explains, when he, his brother Ian and his mate Jos Ruffel started Garage Project in 2011, they had an audacious idea. “We started with what we called ‘the 24/24’, which was 24 beers in 24 weeks, so for 6 months we had a new beer every week,” he says. They released a beer every Tuesday at a local craft beer bar. “Quite quickly we developed this cult following and if you didn’t turn up at 5 o’clock on a Tuesday, you’d probably miss out,” Pete says. “It was a terrifying roller coaster experience but the way we started has really become the DNA of our brand Garage Project. Our tagline is ‘Try something new’.”
Garage Project has continued in the same vein ever since, producing more than 80 beers in 2022 alone. “We have like a solar system of beers,” Pete jokes. “Some of them circle round regularly. Others will disappear and then come back again at some point, and some will be like a comet flying past that you’ll never see again. You have to be very adaptable and willing to try new things to stay relevant and interesting.”
While the Garage Project team has experimented a lot over the last 12 years, they stay true to their core philosophy: “The beer has to be good,” Pete says. “For me drinking a beer is the full experience. You see the can and you’re drawn in by the art on the label. You pick it up and read about the beer and then finally you open it and pour it and that beer has to live up to all the expectations. When you get all that right and all the planets align, it’s an awesome experience.”
Pete believes there’s a beer for everyone at Garage Project, and he can help you find your perfect brew. “When someone says I don’t like beer, there’s nothing better than being able to pass them something and see the revelation,” he says.
One beer that has broad appeal according to Pete is Bliss Lager. “It’s a very simple lager made with 100% New Zealand ingredients,” he says. It’s fermented cold and stored at subzero temperatures to produce a delicately crisp, clean lager.
Another beer for your must-try list is Chipper. “This is a super drinkable hazy,” Pete says. “The emphasis is on aromatics and flavour rather than bitterness. It’s a session beer with delicious tropical fruit notes.”
One of the biggest surprises in the range for the team is their non alcoholic beer, Tiny. “We worked very hard on Tiny. We threw away about 9000 litres of beer experimenting to come up with something we enjoyed, and it’s gone gangbusters,” Pete explains. “It’s like a hazy IPA – heavy, juicy and tropical but with a hazy base.”
Party & Bulls#*t is densely hazy with an emphasis on the hop flavour and aroma; La La is made using lager yeast but in a traditional IPA style, which results in an intensely aromatic beer; and Phantasm Hazy is an East Coast style IPA made with sauvignon blanc grape by-products for what Pete says is a “a really intense aromatic experience.”
Products featured are available from 11/10/23 to 14/11/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.