Tag Archives: Garage project


Text and photographs by The Lady Pie Maker

I must admit I did not go to Beervana prepared to write this blog. I had a number of ideas for a ‘take’ on the annual craft beer event, it being my first, but it didn’t occur to me that I might end up writing a Beervana Style File. While the Thirsties have successfully expanded my once narrow-minded view of beer over the last year, I haven’t really come to associate beer drinkers with ‘style’ much beyond t-shirts and beards, two subjects keenly documented by Thirstyboy Malice. As such, Beervana was something of a sartorial surprise, with the attendees and their choice of dress proving to be just as idiosyncratic and enjoyable as the beers.

Here is my unexpected Beervana Style File of 2013

Pamela, who  looked like she could have walked out of Ari Seth Cohen’s blog Advanced Style, was my first subject – such charming elegance is rarely seen in Wellington’s smartest haunts let alone expected at a beer festival at 11.30am in the morning!  A teetotaler, Pamela was visiting Wellington to spend sometime with her daughter, who was determined to attend Beervana.

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Ryan accessorised his no-nonsense Swanndri – a true New Zealand design classic which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year – with some nifty technology, a mantrol ear piece and mic in order to carry out his important Beervana task – controlling the beer.  Ryan developed his unique look to ensure that he could be quickly found in a crowd.

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Checks, a pattern long associated with real men’s work wear, proved popular among a wide range of Beervana gents despite the fact that most had the day off.

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The most recognisable checked shirt of the day, however, belonged to hardworking Pete from the Garage Project, who is photographed firing up a mighty glass of Cockswain’s Courage Porter.

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Looking more like a landed gent than a working man, Stephen look set for a Sherlock Holmes style adventure in his tweed and deerstalker hat.

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Indeed, Beervana seemed to operate like an informal Fashion in the Field for men when it came to hats, with everything from beanies to pork pies on display, although thankfully free of fascinators.

No doubt a challenge to the eye after too many beersies, Jeff stylishly mixed stripes and hounds-tooth with a checked Dough Boy cap.

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James and Ryan respectively opted for a military style beret and Leonard Cohen fedora, with some peace-loving beads thrown in for good measure.

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Meanwhile, West Coast supporter Duncan, made a turban from his own dreads


and Hannah from the Garage Project tidied her locks up into in a 1940s style do-rag.

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Other Beervana seekers used colour to make a statement. Vicki from Crafty Beers rocked purple from head to toe, while Misty from Three Boys stayed on brand in khaki.

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Misty and Vicki

Red was the colour of choice for fellow beer blogger Hop Head Pete, whose own blog reveals his penchant for snappy bow ties and waistcoats,

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and for this crafty lady, who sported a button encrusted capelet and crochet appliqued bag for a crafty beer day.

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And then there were the guys, like Nick, who opted for understated, classic cool

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and eschewing the beer branded tee so avidly captured by Malice, Jos chose Berlin period Bowie, a great icon of invention.

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By now you may have picked up a bit of favouritism, and you’d be right. The Garage Project booth was my personal favourite on both the individual flair and inventive beer fronts, although their back-to-front booth troubled some of the more pedantic Thirsties.

And then there were the shoes…

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But by then my battery began to run low, the girl with the stars and stripes sneakers kept evading my camera, and the call of the beer won the day. Next year I’ll be more prepared.


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Greater Wellington Brewday #1

Text and photos: Greasylightbulb

April 6th 2013 saw the inaugural GW Brewday event in Martinborough. Some might feel there isn’t exactly a shortage of beer events these days but this addition seemed to capture the enthusiasm of ale aficionados and lager lovers to create a bit of a buzz. Since many non-attendees have subjected us more committed types to interrogation afterwards, we thought it best to pool our hazy memories into a more permanent record of the day.


Brewday: So awesome we all got tats

A beer celebration bang in the middle of wine country might seem a bit odd at first, but actually makes a fair amount of sense. Whenever I’ve been with winegrowers socially they’ve drank beer about 95% of the time (that’s 95% of their drinking time, not 95% of their waking day. Chefs, on the other hand….). Also one of the key angles of GW Brewday is its regional focus, and wine growing areas have understood the importance of that concept for pretty much ever. You can always match your Wairarapa pinot noir to your Wairarapa seasoned olives with Wairarapa feta, such pairings often working so well because the food and wine styles of an area have evolved together and tend to reflect other factors from predominant weather to social practises.  Although contemporary craft beer rarely has a true sense of terroir (though it can if it wants), it often reflects local trends and adding it into the regional mix adds another dimension of choice to the enthusiastic punter. Mildly ironically Marchfest, probably the best established regional beer festival in NZ, was on at the same weekend even though it was April. Thus denying Wellingtonians and others the chance to go to both. First World problems and all that….


Before “The Cloud” appeared.

The Venue

Brewday was set up corral-style with a horseshoe of tents around a wee paddock with some tables and hay bales facing a stage truck. As a map geek who is also fond of at least pretending to make strategic plans for festivals, I was warmed to see the conveniently pocket-sized program feature a well organised lay out of the breweries and food stations. Having committed it to memory it unfortunately turned out to be a work of fiction


Where the things were supposed to be, and where the things actually were

Not that that was much of an obstacle to walking round and seeing what was where, which ultimately was always going to happen anyway. Five hours in a paddock is a long time to resist the urge to explore. Most intriguing though was this area:


Smelt a bit like catnip

The map (yes I was still using it) suggested it was the “activity zone”, tantalisingly without expanding on what that actually meant. From our observations we figured activity might be a euphemism for smoking.

The Seminars

The biggest tent was used for seminars: chocolate and beer; cheese and beer; Craft Beer College; and Mike from the exciting Panhead almost-brewery. We plumped for the beer and cheese tasting. You had to book (and pay) for this beforehand but I was entertaining some visiting gourmands from Victoria and was keen for them to see that we can do that sort of thing too. Like all the tents the white canvas made for an oddly intense and slightly oppressive omnidirectional lighting effect.


Beer and cheese and sunglasses

Possibly due to the inaugural nature of the day the organisation seemed a bit slow as lots of tiny beers were poured then we all queued up to individually get our bits of Kingsmeade cheese and beer tasters. At first I was gutted to be at the back of the tent and therefore getting the last servings but on reflection the people at the beginning had to sit there patiently not eating or drinking the goodies in front of them, which would have been quite a tease. I on the other hand had done three beer runs to the outside world in that time. Anyway 40 mins later and off we rolled, Kieran Haslett-Moore is eminently qualified on the subject and gives a great presentation. I’m impressed by the way he looks for novel matches and doesn’t shy away when they don’t quite work, focusing instead on the characteristics behind the incompatibility.  Voting afterwards declared the winningest match to be the Sunset Blue cheese with the (noticeably non-regional!) Fuller’s 1845 beer. It was a great cheese with a nice tangy spice quality that complimented the rich sweet-toffee maltiness of a classic beer. The most interesting match for me though was the Castlepoint feta with Garage Project’s Baltic Porter as it was a great example of how flavours affecting each other on your palate. After a bite of the crumbly traditional-style salty cheese the beer tasted hugely different with a sudden deep chocolate character dominating affairs. Kieran explained how smokiness and saltiness go well together and suddenly everything made sense.


Beer n’cheese. Five bucks worth.

The Beer Stalls

Afterwards we hit the breweries in earnest and although all our local favorites were represented, it was more exciting to come across several we’d not heard of before from outside of Wellington including Long Beach, 50 Knots and Regent 58. These discoveries represented something of a highlight of the day and really provides a reason for having an event such as this in the beer calender. Long Beach from Waikanae already run a fantastic café and bakery near the beach but are building a brewhouse up the road from these. Their stall was staffed by exceptionally happy and friendly people selling pies and making cheesy puns whilst chatting with considerable enthusiasm about the project. 50 Knots are a new bunch who now own Crooked Cider but are dipping a toe into beer as well, so to speak, by brewing at Peak Brewery. They were notable for an admirable desire to get people’s thoughts and opinions on their beers. Regent 58 are some beardy homebrewers with a penchant for traditional style ales expanding into commercial production, so expect to see them in a supermarket or pub near you soon. Currently their beers are all bottle conditioned though which I reckon still catches the neophyte beer drinker/barstaff by surprise with unfortunate consequences.

Beer Highlights (in no particular order):

Long Beach Amber Ale – ABV 4.2%

A delightfully moreish American influenced malt forward beer in an underrated style. Crisp, clean and quaffable. Look forward to a lot more of this sort of thing when the brewery is up and running soon. Waikanae is quite suddenly becoming a destination!

Garage Project Baltic Porter – 8.1%

Virtually unanimously voted “best beer” at the cheese and beer session. Medium bodied and lightly smoked with some complexity of flavours and a deceptive strength.  Intriguingly, there may be more of this maturing in barrels somewhere in the Aro Valley.

Kereru Velvet Boot – 8%

Enjoyed on tap for our first time. With experiences of the bottles having varied hugely, this was a gloriously fresh and uplifting world-beater of a Belgian. Luckily for us this skilled man is also just a couple of months away from having his own brewhouse.

The Things to Help You Enjoy the Beer 

The food was great, I dare anyone to try and run a beer event vaguely near Wellington with substandard fare these days! Fork and Brewer’s spicy haloumi kebabs being a much appreciated veggie option and also perfect beer match, but Le Canard’s huge roast chicken meals showed the biggest queues.  The music consisted of Wellington’s slightly painful Oompah band, the technically slick rock of Mr Groove, and the always willing cover band The Noodles. The latter gave us the drunkenly hilarious but certainly high scoring game “what song don’t you want to hear them play”. To their credit they did get the crowd dancing with their happy interactive zeal.


Happy Schnappsman

There were some non eating and drinking stalls, with glassware and wooden beer-associated items. I’m not sure how well they did for business. We contained our disbelief at being told how much better beer is when drank from 98% silicon glass that appeared to be a few microns thick…. the term “high definition drinking” was bandied around as if it were somehow real.  Another genuine highlight though was the chance to try some schnapps and beer matching at the challengingly-named Zumwohl stand. Basically all the fruity ones match wheat beers (and sunshine) while the neutral one compliments virtually anything, but especially dark beers.

Overall Impressions

Perhaps preminising the need for a blog review, I asked around for opinions of the day.


Brewday: bring shoes

It certainly didn’t make for a cheap weekend with a non-early bird ticket price of $45 providing only admittance and a glass (and attracting separate booking fee and credit card fees), which compares a bit unfavourably with events such as Beervana, Pacific Beer Expo or the previously mentioned Marchfest. If you had to get the bus back to Wellington then you missed out on a fair bit of the day as well. Also there was some speculation as to how much fun it would be if the weather had crapped out as it was threatening to do, such are the risks as well as joys of an outdoor do I guess. Basically though the outcome was every single person seemed to have a really good time (those that knew to bring warm coats and portable chairs with glass holders being especially content), with large quantities of humour, friendliness and interesting beer being shared.

The Aftermath

One of the advantages of Brewday is it’s a great excuse to have to stay in Martinborough. Though there are distinctly refined high-end dining and drinking options for afterwards, none of them had a mechanical bull (and were somewhat surprised to be asked) so it was off to the Pukemanu Tavern….


Getting a ride at The Puke

 Greater Wellington Brewday will be held again in March 2014. Keep track of details on their Twitter and/or Facebook (which also has better photos of 2013’s event)

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Pie vs. Cake: the thirsty boys go trick or treating

It was the night before All Hallows, and the Thirsty Boys were gathered in their usual lair, the Hashigo Zake. Another hai-ku under their belt, talk eventually turned to the Garage Project’s latest attention grabbing experiment.  Not only were the crafty brewers pitting two of their own beers against each other – their new Pecan Pie Ale against their award-winning Ziggy’s Carrot Cake Ale – they were also inviting bakers into the ring.  Prizes were up for grabs for the Best Carrot Cake, Best Pecan Pie and Best ‘Wild Card’. The competition was set for the following eve.

The conversation piqued the interest of one of the members of the Thirsty Boys Ladies Auxiliary. With a recipe in mind, she swiftly departed for the nearest purveyor of fine goods, spurred on by the Jesuit’s pie-ku.

Summer’s long twilight –

God speed, lady piemaker

Thirsties in to win.

As the Thirsty Boys retreated to their homes and loving wives, the Lady Pie Maker baked into the night.  While the Garage Project described their pecan ale as ‘Rich, nutty and sweet with a slight hint of toffee’, she crafted a pie that was rich, nutty and sweet, underpinned by dark chocolate and black coffee (scroll to the end for the recipe).

The following evening, as skeletons, witches and fiends took to the streets to trick or treat, the Thirsty Boys and their familiars descended on the Southern Cross, host of Pie vs. Cake. At six o’clock the competing ales were released.  At seven, the judges began to make their way through 19 cakes and pies. The Thirsty Boys focused on the beer at hand.

Pecan Pie Ale vs. Ziggy’s Carrot Cake Ale

As the Lady Pie Maker was handed a glass of Pecan Pie Ale she was advised that she would not like it.  ‘Of course I will’ she replied, ‘I like pecans, I like pie’. And she did. At least to start with. The first mouth full seemed so promisingly delicious, yet it dissolved into watery disappointment. It needed chocolate, she thought.

Responses rolled off the Greasylightbulb’s tongue.

‘The pecan beer had a strange effect whereby several people swore they couldn’t taste the pecans! Maybe you need a special taste bud for it or something’.

Followed by:

‘The pecan pie beer was a bit sweet like molasses, er… nutty? and bready, distinct hints of caramel. The candied pecan qualities ebbed and flowed. Quite well-balanced but without the complexity of flavours in the Ziggy’s. If I was predicting the style of beer used for a pecan pie beer I’d have gone for a porter, but what do I know?’


The Ziggy’s Carrot Cake Ale came with a theatrical flourish. Armed with an atomiser, the barman sprayed each frothy head with orange mist.  The Lady Pie Maker thought that Ziggy’s would make a good wedding beer – with the orange mist its got the symbolism down pat, and it would be a match made in heaven with a dense fruity cake.

The Greasylightbulb thought that the Ziggy’s ‘smelled of lemon peel, tasted of a carrot cake spiced with ginger and cinnamon, with a nutty orange background’. The orange mist has also got him thinking about how to use this magic on other beers: ‘the pecan beer could have had a coffee (or bourbon…) spray, wheat beer could have a fruit spray, a stout could have an er, oyster spray?’ Suggestions perhaps for another Garage Project experiment?

The Voting

Most punters were asked to vote for their favourite beer. The Lady Pie Maker however was not given a token. Perhaps they had revoked the vote for women, or knew that she secretly yearned for a chardonnay. If given the chance, she would have voted for the Ziggy’s. It had a fuller, more well-rounded flavour. The Thirsty Boys’ and their familiars unanimously preferred the Carrot Cake Ale, as did everyone whom the socially mobile Greasylightbulb interviewed. How it only won 81.5 to 75.5 remains one of the evening’s mysteries.

Meanwhile, the judges continued to deliberate over pie and cake. Determinedly the wraith-like spectre of the Jesuit haunted their table. With no tricks up his sleeve, he was unceremoniously shooed away treatless. Yet somehow Durty Driscoll, oozing Brummie charm, stole away a sizable slice of the Ladies Auxiliary’s Pecan Pie. Consumption was swift.

As the Thirsties practiced their waiting skills, a second hai-ku unfolded

Beer on All Hallows’

Waiting for my just desserts

Queue forms on the left

Cake vs. Pie

At 9pm the judges – Jeremy Taylor of the Omnivore, Jacob Brown from The Larder and Beth Brash from Eat and Greet  – made their eagerly awaited pronnoucement. It turned out that a baker with alcohol in her name, one Brandie Stephens, had triumphantly bewitched them with both her apricot stuffed carrot cake and bourbon-laced pecan pie. ‘We wuz robbed!’ declared the Jesuit.

With the judging over, the Thirsties descended on the pie and cake remains. In regards to the winning pecan pie the pickings were slim. The judges, while finding it ‘almost too sweet’ also found it ‘incredibly more-ish’.  So it appeared. The Lady Pie Maker divided what was left amongst the Thirsties. They got what amounted to a nut each with some sticky stuff attached. It was pretty yum, but oh too sweet.  Supportively, the Greasylightbulb declared the Lady’s pie to be ‘awesome! Particularly the chocolate layer’.

One could easily imagine the Greasylightbulb belting out the Four Clefs classic ‘I like pie, I like cake, I like anything you bake’, such was his unadulterated enthusiasm for all the fare presented. Only minutes later he fell prey to his own desires, almost dying of fright as he bit into a pecan pie spiked with bacon. A nasty Halloween trick indeed to play on a vegetarian.

Losing and bacon aside, the Thirsties had a fun night out. As a venue the Southern Cross made an interesting change. As well as Pie vs. Cake, there was a giant jenga competition and a tag team of aspiring singer-songwriters crooning for their supper.  The vibe was that of a big, noisy neighbourhood lounge. As the Jesuit observed ‘It was hilarious to see most of the staff and half of the clientele of Hashigo Zake above ground’. It won’t become a Thirsty Boys regular, but the Ladies Auxiliary will be back next year, their wooden spoons sharpened. As for next week, the Thirsty Boys will be back underground. There will be no cake, no pie, just a bag of crisps.

Recipe: The Thirsty Boys Ladies Auxiliary Pecan Pie

The Crust

1/3 cup butter (a stupid measurement for butter but I haven’t had time to convert it)

1 cup white flour

3 tablespoons of ice-cold water

Cut the butter into the flour with a knife or your fingers and work until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add about 3 tablespoons of icy water and combine until the mixture clings together. Form a ball and roll out on a flour dusted board. Place the rolled out crust, which is quite a thin one, in a 9” pie dish (grease with butter first).

The Filling

¾ cup sugar

½ cup maple syrup (real or faux)

2 tablespoons of brewed strong dark coffee

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons white flour

3 large eggs

½ cup chocolate chips (I use half a bar of the Lindt Dark Noir chocolate)

1 cup toasted pecans (be sure to lightly toast not burn – they are mighty expensive)


Preheat oven to 210 degrees.

Place all of the filling ingredients except for the pecans in a blender and wizz until smooth. If you don’t have a blender, melt the butter and chocolate on a low heat, cool and then mix in with other ingredients. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the pie crust and then pour in the filling. Make sure the pecans are evenly spread, and then pop in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes on 210, and then drop the oven down to 180 degrees and cook for another 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the pie – it can volcano in the middle. If it does don’t fret. Gently prick the volcanoing bit with a skewer to let the air out and then gently press down.

Serve with plain or brandy cream and your choice of Renaissance Stonecutter, Yeastie Boys Hud-a-wa or Fuller’s E.S.B.


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BEER HAIKU #20 – An Old English Bitter Marmalade by Garage Project

The first of Garage Project’s 24 more was released on Tuesday night at Hashigo zake – cult beer bar. The brewers describe it as “.. .Old English Bitter Marmalade, a proper English session Bitter with a marmalade twist coming in at a modest 3.8% abv, dry hopped and conditioned in the Firkin and served straight from the cask…”And yes, the cask was there sitting on top of the bar Tuesday night! The marmalade had some of us imagining a beer breakfast in the afternoon, and we could have scoffed it down all night. Greasylightbulb was in session beer heaven.

I haven’t heard if the Garage Project’s new releases will come out every Tuesday for the rest of the year, but we are hoping to haiku all 24 of them here eventually…at poetry club.

Moore Wilson’s*, Old English Bitter Marmalade

 by Garage Project (New Zealand) 3.8% abv

C!trus peel sliver

Burnt barley sessionable

Twenty four resumes

*LINK: It was brewed in a supermarket carpark 

click image to go to marmalade recipe

hai·ku (hk)

n. pl. haiku also hai·kus

1. A Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons.

2. A poem written in this form.

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Reflections on New Release Tuesdays at Hashigo Zake and GARAGE PROJECT 24 more

The second season of the Wellington based Garage Project 24/24 initiative is about to commence. If you have forgotten or not heard, the Garage Project’s 24/24 sees the tireless team of brewers release 24 beers in 24 weeks. The good news is they are doing 24 More…We posted on this highlight of the beer drinking calendar last year, here is the link: HERE

Of course, like last year, the venue is Hashigo Zake – cult beer bar in Wellington. Since August 2011, The Thirstyboys began to drop into this establishment every Tuesday night following the Garage Project releases. The 24/24 project sort of kicked started the New Release Tuesday (NRT), which morphed into an in-house curated weekly showcase of domestic and international novelties. Hashigo’s have made Tuesday night an early in the week craft beer event. It’s actually better than a Wednesday.

New Release Tuesday and Garage Project keg- I’ll have one!

With a year gone by and Garage Project’s 24 more starting tomorrow (Tuesday), the Jesuit and I (Malice) thought it timely to reflect on Hashigo Zake’s now well-established Tuesday night tradition. It feels like the end of a beer drinking cycle, a new season…

For those not in Wellington, there is a surprisingly supportive local audience for NRT. In fact, it’s almost cultish in the sense that NRT is a fixed point in people’s routines. Some of us make an effort to come every week and regret it when we can’t. Other congregants are more sporadic in their attendance. In acclaimed beer writer Phil Cook’s phrase “Hashigo Zake is beer church” and NRT is one of the sacraments – as the Jesuit would say “who among us is without sin?”

In Greasylightbulb’s phrase, NRT is actually “poetry club”. If you haven’t seen them, we hack out and post these beer haiku to save us the effort of writing up full tasting notes. NRT means we get to quibble over the form and punctuation of haiku and struggle with formulating a suitable seasonal reference. In Greasylightbulb’s world, when the love interest txts “where the hell are you?” He can honestly say “poetry club”.

Unidentified man at The Thirstyboys favourite beer haiku writing table

Hashigo Zake’s year of new releases has been eclectic: this means that what is on offer is not always appropriate for what is in season. However, you know it may be your only chance to sample a new release, or the product of an international brewer not well represented on New Zealand taps. NRT encourages punters to try a wide range of styles… I mean, unless you are an unrepentant hophead, how often would you would you go out and buy a triple IPA?

With NRT, you can rely on the fact that week to week the new releases are picked and the list is curated by people who are passionate about beer. NRT is always a surprise, even when you have looked it up beforehand on the Hashigo Zake news page.

A few words about Garage Project’s 24/24 and 24 More

As we said, we started attending Garage Projects 24/24  around August 2011… regrettably we missed the Venusian Pale Ale VPA and Lord Cockswain’s Courage Porter but we were there in time for the release of Red Rocks, and Aro Noir – The Dark Side of the Street. It’s fair to say we didn’t always relish some of their experiments; notably the notorious People’s Project No.2. Green Coffee Saison. Although the Garage Project did say “No. 2 might be our finest hour, or our greatest failure.”[1] Nevertheless, we always appreciated the spirit of experimentation (pun intended).

It’s a good thing to have Garage Project back in the NRT slot. Garage Project is distinguishable by a high order of professionalism allied with a predisposition to brew new beers. In a very short time they have shown they are good at what they do. They have a couple of decades of professional experience in their team and a restless inventiveness. Beer geeks nearly mobbed them at Beervana this year. Can they sustain it?

One would hope so, and part of their success will be linked to the seasonal services at “the beer church”. Hashigo Zake and Garage Project are a good fit. One is a promoter of a broad spectrum of craft beer, the other creates it. There is a synergy between them that makes them a perfect match for the benefit of beer amateurs and aficionados alike.

Now we aren’t shameless fanboys of the NRT or the Garage Project. You have to hand over hard earned cash to drink at the NRT and be part of exploring new frontiers in craft brewing. We have gagged on the spicy crisps, and left brews abandoned, half finished on the table…but that’s what makes the Wellington craft beer scene so interesting. That’s part of the adventure, and it’s always worth haiku-ing about.

See our blog posts on Garage Project Here and Here.

See our blog post on Hashigo Zake -Cult beer bar: Here.

Visit Garage project: Here 

Visit Hashigo Zake: Here

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