Malthouse, now on Courtney Place, is celebrating 25 years in business with a monthly series of beer launches and tap takeovers from great brewers. It has been dubbed Project Silver because that is the metal you have to frantically find in a gift for your partner when you almost forget your 25th anniversary.

This month, on 13 October 2018 it is the turn of Garage Project, the mad geniuses from Aro Valley, to shine in Project Silver – Operation Garage Project. There will be ten GP beers on tap including the exclusive launch of a beer that was made with Colin the Handsome Yet Softly Spoken Scottish Proprietor of said Malthouse.

When Malthouse launched in 1993 it was the year that Czechoslovakia split up (acrimoniously), Boris Yeltsin was in charge of Russia, young Bill Clinton was elected POTUS, Belgium became a Federal Monarchy rather than a Unitary Kingdom [1], Canada got its first female Prime Minister Kim Campbell, the World Trade Centre was bombed, Benazir Bhutto – also a female – became Prime Minister of Pakistan for a second time, and NAFTA was eventually signed.

In the broader cultural field, Dreamlover by Mariah Carey was the top song, Elle MacPherson and Leonardo DiCaprio were amongst the hottest stars, Brandon Lee and River Phoenix both passed away, Power Rangers were the top selling Christmas toy, while at the same time Stephen Hawking’s book A Brief History of Time was a best seller. [2]

New Zealand was busy too. 1993 saw Helen Clark become leader of the Labour Party, Winston Peters become leader of New Zealand First, and Jim Anderton as leader of the New Labour party then leader of the Alliance party. Ironically, the Alliance party would implode but Mr Anderton, a member of at least four political parties during his career, would insist that he never left a political party, instead they left him.  We also voted for Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) as our electoral system.

In more important Kiwi 90s news, the Mutton Birds won band of the year and album of the year (although I would have voted for the Exponents but do own both records). The dire movie The Piano was released and I had to watch it because… girls. I was at university and, sadly, had not discovered Malthouse yet.

However, I had attended my first rock concert at Carpark, the venue which later became first Malty. The gig (I am so hip) was the Exponents (then the Dance Exponents) with the opening act being Push Push starring an implausibly young and quite terrible Mikey Havoc. A year or so later I experienced my craft beer epiphany at the still new Malthouse – a pint of Pink Elephant Mammoth. I have adored the bar (in both incarnations) since that fateful sip.

Garage Project is the brainchild of Pete Gillespie and Jos Ruffell with help from Pete’s brother Ian Gillespie and they have always done things a little differently.

For a start, one of their first acts in brewing was to make 24 new beers and release them one a week over 24 weeks. This was in defiance of the conventional wisdom about doing a couple of relatively simple styles and getting them right before slowly expanding the range.  Garage Project released more than 40 beers in their first year – even they seem a little hazy on the exact number. [3]

They now have two brewing sites and a pub across the road of the original petrol station location. Garage Project is routinely the busiest stall at Beervana with a mix of completely new brews, outlandish serving techniques (hot pokers and/or dry ice) and a rock star stage. GP is a long time friend of Malthouse who is proud to showcase the following beers from 13 October 2018:

In an Exclusive Release Malthouse presents Garage Project Mr Mallon’s Delicious Hop Sauce (7%), made with the assistance of the very own Glaswegian wunderkind who runs the bar. It is a hoppy and strong pale ale described by the brewers as an “aromatic IPA with notes of citrus and pine. It’s hoppy. It’s delicious. It’s saucy.”

Garage Project BEER (5%) – Just to mess with you, the brewery known for outrageous beers makes one with one malt, one hop, one classic European yeast, and local water. It is dry, herbal and quenching. I do like this BEER.

Garage Project Hapi Daze (4.6%) – A kiwi style IPA because after all Hapi is Maori for hops. Expect a balanced beer with a floral hop nose, firm malt backbone, then notes of citrus and grapefruit and a clean finish.

Garage Project DFA (7.5%) – DFA stands for Demus Favorem Amori – ‘we choose to stand for love’. DFA is a surprisingly great blend of flavours marrying mango, Vietnamese mint, lime and chilli with the high citrus hit of Centennial, Amarillo and Citra hops. It was previously known as Death From Above and as such rated as my favourite chilli beer in the world. This one should be just as good.

Garage Project Los Lobos (8%) – I was privileged to be one of the first to taste this beer as a judge at the 2015 Malthouse West Coast Challenge. It features three of my most revered hops – Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra – producing pungent notes of orange peel and pine needles before a dry finish.

Garage Project Garagista (5.8%) – This is a bold but drinkable IPA with hops from New Zealand, Australia and America. It is one of the Garage Project beers I drink most often because it is delicious and, importantly for me, does not contain pineapple, caraway seeds or donuts. It is resinous with notes of grapefruit and caramel.

Garage Project Red Eye Gravy (5.6%) – GP have made a beer to approximate “poor man’s gravy”, a traditional southern US pick me up breakfast dish. [4] As such, it contains corn, maple syrup and coffee, along with six different malts. This amber ale calls to mind caramel, nuts and coffee.

Garage Project White Mischief (2.8%) – Gose has gone from zero to hero as a beer style in New Zealand over the last two years. White Mischief is Garage Project’s take on a kettle soured wheat beer which results in notes of peaches and salt. Salted water is used in the brewing process for Gose.

Garage Project Desert Island Dreams (7%) – People sometimes talk about desert island beers to mean the beers they would have if they were stranded in the middle of the ocean. This is a beer designed to evoke the best of an island paradise with lashings of fruity hops along with mango, passionfruit and pineapple in the fermenter. This IPA is big, bold and understandably fruity. It is on my list!

Garage Project Hunnybee (5%) – Hunnybee is a farmhouse ale made with funky saison yeast, lavender honey and blend of hops that the brewers describe as “eclectic”. When GP uses that word, you know it has to be off the scale of most normal brewers. That is meant in the best possible sense.

The quote used for the title of this blog came from Garage Project. All the other garage quotes I found on-line were terrible. It wins by default which, as Homer Simpson reminds us, are the two sweetest words in the English language.

Next time we drink to haggis in a can. My mum gave me a can and so far I have made haggis pizza and haggis rissoles. Delicious and patriotic – who can ask for more?

[1] Not a lot of people care about that.

[2] Like many people, I have a copy. Like virtually all of them, I have never finished it.

[3] It is rumoured their super fans (and there are many) have spreadsheets which more accurately document the Garage Project output than the brewers own records. That is dedication. 

[4] Read: Hangover Food.


Neil Miller

Beer Writer

Cuisine Magazine

TheShout Magazine


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