Garage Project has gone from a tiny microbrewery to a giant of the craft beer world in no time at all. From pushing the boundaries of what is possible to their unending pursuit of quality, it has seem them mix it with the best breweries in the world.
In part 1, we chat to co-founder and head brewer Pete Gillespie about the story of Garage Project and the meteoric rise they have seen.
In part 2, we chat to Australian national sales manager Adam Holliday about the effect that Garage Project has had on the Australian craft beer market.
Video from our Facebook group " The Craft Beer Collective".
Full Text Transcript Below:
Lachlan: Hi, I'm Lachlan McLean from Beer Cartel, here with your regular fill of the latest insights, interviews and news from the craft beer world. Thanks for joining me again right here on The Inside Word.
Lachlan: Welcome everyone to episode three of The Inside Word. In this episode, we chat to Pete Gillespie, co-founder and head brewer of New Zealand craft brewing giants Garage Project, about their meteoric rise from a tiny microbrewery to working side by side with some of the world's best breweries.
Lachlan: Welcome, Pete. Thanks for joining us. What are you up to at the moment? What's the plans?
Pete: Just moving down from Aro. So we've got two sites now, in Wellington. We've got the Aro Garage, which was the birthplace for Garage Project and then literally a little five minute drive or 10 minute walk, sometimes you can walk it faster than drive it, is Marion Street, which is right in the heart of Wellington itself and that's where we do all of our weird fermentation for the Wild Workshop. The two are separated for good reasons, so that-
Lachlan: No infections.
Pete: [inaudible 00:01:14] cross-contamination, yeah. So if you've been working down here in the Wild Workshop getting beer on you or anything, then it is forbidden for you to go back to Aro that day.
Lachlan: Go home and then get cleaned [crosstalk 00:01:27]
Pete: You get decontaminated. We need to get one of those fucking cool things you see in the space movies where ...
Lachlan: The air locks.
Pete: Right. You go in naked and somebody sprays you with a massive hose or something.
Lachlan: That would be awesome [crosstalk 00:01:41]
Pete: Now I think of it, we might do one of those. That would be worth it.
Lachlan: You're obviously at the Wild Workshop at the moment, but you've been brewing a long time. So Garage Project's been open since what, 2011, now?
Pete: 2011, yeah. So we started ... released our first beers in 2011. So, obviously there was a fair bit of work went into it before we actually opened.
Lachlan: And you-
Pete: Anyone involved in opening a brewery will know that it's a pretty long process.
Pete: In 2011, we started, but before that, no, I'd brewed at other breweries previously to that.
Lachlan: Yes. You've been a brewer for a long time now. Where were you before that?
Pete: I brewed ... originally I started brewing in the UK. So I brewed ... my very first brewing job was at Breakspear's, which was this wonderful traditional real ale brewery on the banks of the Thames in Henley-on-Thames. Just kind of real chocolate box stuff. Was built in that time period when people made industrial architecture beautiful. Do you know what I mean?
Lachlan: Yeah, absolutely.
Pete: Stained glass windows, oak, copper, little winding twisty staircases. It was just the most beautiful building [crosstalk 00:02:53]
Lachlan: And those beers were definitely in a complete contrast to what you're brewing right now, I would imagine.
Pete: I know, it's kind of funny, isn't it? To be honest, I don't brew anything like that anymore. Not that I don't like that beer, but I think that ... I feel quite strongly that if you really ... I really love English real ale but I really love it when I'm in England and-
Lachlan: There's a time and place for everything.
Pete: ... I'm having ... exactly. It's like some of the best pints of beer I've ever had were probably in England. It's just the planets align, you're in the right place with a really fresh, beautiful beer, probably with the right people, and you're just like, holy shit, this is just the most wonderful [crosstalk 00:03:31]
Lachlan: It is, yeah. That's where it really works.
Pete: It is, isn't it?
Lachlan: Sorry, you went from England and then you came over our way and you spent some time in Australia?
Pete: Yeah. So I brewed at a couple of breweries in England and then back to Australia where I'd been living previously, and brewed at the Malt Shovel in Sydney.
Lachlan: At the Camperdown Brewery?
Pete: Yeah. Which, was a great experience. I mean, there are a fantastic bunch of brewers there. Chuck is a legend.
Lachlan: Yeah. I think the Australian industry owes him a lot-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:04:00]
Lachlan: ... and even Garage Project might owe him something with a lot of yourself going through there.
Pete: It was pretty interesting. He is a real character. Last time I was in Sydney, I was down on Coodgee Beach and it was pretty stormy. The sea was pretty wild. I was like, "Whoa, look at this". And then suddenly, out of the surf, strides this character in his budgie smugglers, and it's fucking Chuck! It's like he's out there. I don't know ... How old is Chuck now? But he's out there just swimming-
Lachlan: [crosstalk 00:04:32]
Pete: backwards and forwards, across Coodgee Bay. That was amazing.
Lachlan: That's fantastic.
Pete: Yeah, good on him.
Lachlan: So you went from the Malt Shovel back over into New Zealand. I remember-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:04:44] to be honest, I was trying to set up a little brewery in the Blue Mountains for a while.
Lachlan: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
Pete: So I was living up in Katoomba and commuting down to the Malt Shovel and trying to set up the brewery up in the Blue Mountains. But, I hope ... I believe things have changed down in New South Wales, which is fantastic. But at the time, the bureaucracy was just so mind boggling. I don't think in my life I'd ever come across something before where there was no outside the box, it was just box, and there was no way out. It was the most frustrating experience.
Lachlan: Yes, it is getting better.
Pete: Yes, which is fantastic. So I'd been trying for three years, basically, to get this brewery up and running and I was just ... in the end I was like, you know what? This is just masochistic now. Banging my head against a brick wall. It was interesting, I'd been over to visit my brother, Ian, who lived in Wellington. Wellington is a fascinating city. I'd lived in Wellington when I was younger. And at the time, 57% of all the craft beer in New Zealand was consumed in Wellington.
Pete: Which, considering the size of the population, was remarkable. And especially considering the fact that there weren't really any breweries here. Max, which is a Lion Nathan owned brewery, Max had a brewery here in Wellington, and Lion Nathan took it out, pulled the brewery out and moved the brewing somewhere else.
Pete: I heard about this when I was over in the Malt Shovel, I'm like, Bloody hell, that's ... Wellingtons is amazing market and as far I knew with no breweries in the city itself. So I kind of came over to visit Ian, and we snooped around. I asked a lot of people, it's like, "Why are there no breweries here?" And no one could give me a good answer. And I went to the council, being obviously quite shy of bureaucracy by this point, and I said, "Would you stop me if I tried to set up a brewery?" And they were like, "No, we'd love you to. Go for it."
Pete: And I went and saw the customs and excise people, and they were like, "No, we'd love you to. Go for it." And so, I couldn't find any good reason not to give it a go. So I packed everything in, sold the house in Australia, came over and within six months we had managed to get something going.
Lachlan: Wow. I wish it was that easy in Australia.
Pete: Well, yes. I think Garage is definitely a very different enterprise to what I probably would have set up. I did it alongside Jos Ruffell, who, one of my brother's best friends, lifelong friend. They were born a couple of houses apart in Christchurch where we lived, so I used to babysit the pair of them when I was younger. So he's effectively family. So Jos was involved in the brewery. His background was computer gaming-
Lachlan: Yeah, right.
Pete: ... [crosstalk 00:07:38] manipulation, so nothing to do with brewing, other than the fact that he loved drinking craft beer. He'd been making trips over to the States, and obviously the States were going through that absolute renaissance, you know, 2010. The renaissance of craft brewing, where just everything was on the up. He was super excited by it, and then obviously ... so Jos, Ian and myself, with lots of encouragement from them, we got the Garage going, which was great.
Lachlan: So the Garage Project, I'm guessing the brewery name came from the venue, not the other way around and-
Pete: It's very interesting. We ... the other day we were talking about this. We had a list, a long list of names that we were thinking of for the brewery. In retrospect, thank Christ we didn't use any of them, because they were fucking awful. At the top of the list, just on the piece of paper, we'd scribbled Garage Project. Just because it was ... we started doing trials in my brothers garage under the house before we [inaudible 00:08:44] our site and then the site that we found was this completely derelict service station/garage in Aro Valley, which, if anyone knows Wellington, Aro Valley is kind of like ... basically like temperate rainforest valley full of old hippie houses and it was quite a hippie haven in the 60s and 70s. It's being gently gentrified now, but it's this little damp, kiwi valley with this derelict service station.
Pete: So we moved in there and we were just sitting there, surrounded by rubbish in this derelict place, on the couch and we'd scribbled up Garage Project. I hated all the names that we came up with and then just went back the next day and looked at Garage Project and on the top of the piece of paper and went, fuck, might was well just use that.
Lachlan: Go with that one.
Pete: And it's been great. It's kind of [crosstalk 00:09:34]
Lachlan: That's how Garage Project came about.
Pete: That's how it came about.
Lachlan: So, you opened up and you set a pretty ambitious goal, I think you said, in your first 24 weeks, and that was to brew 24 different beers.
Pete: Yeah, we were very mindful and New Zealand is a very interesting place. So even at the time, in 2010, 2011, there were a lot of breweries in New Zealand per head of population. So, New Zealand has the population of Sydney kind of spread thinly over it and there're quite a lot of breweries per head of population making really good beer, but they tended to be very true to style. So, you know, everybody would have their ... here's the pale ale, here's the IPA, here's the porter, here's the pilsner.
Pete: And so, we were very mindful. We didn't want to just be another brewery, because why the fuck would we do that when there are already lots of really good breweries doing that very true to style stuff? So we wanted to do something that was maybe a little different. Hopefully, a little bit remarkable. We also had fuck all money. So we had the site, this derelict petrol station, but we didn't have a lot of money on top of that. So we basically bought this 50 litre pilot plant. It was the best home brew kit we could find with the money we had and we shipped that over from the States, and set it up in this garage.
Pete: And the idea was, yeah, six months where we brewed a brand new beer every week, we'd effectively end up with two 20 Litre kegs and we teamed up with this great craft beer bar downtown, called [Hashakazakie 00:11:24], every Tuesday night, we'd take these two kegs of beer down. Brand new recipe, brand new beer each week and they put it on the taps ... at five o'clock it would go on tap and over the period of that six months, we managed to build up quite a cool, kind of cult following. People would turn up at the bar. If you weren't there on the night, chances are the beer would run out and you'd never get to try it.
Pete: So it was pretty cool. We also had in the back of our mind that if it all went fucking to custard, we could all just sort of disappear back into the mist and maybe we'd reform and come out again and try something else. So it kind of ... almost like gorilla brewing.
Lachlan: Yeah, yeah.
Pete: But it worked really well and it was also, obviously a really cool chance to experiment and try lots of new recipes and new things. I mean, obviously I'd worked at craft breweries before that, but even at big craft breweries, you're often just reproducing the same beers over and over again. And there's a real skill to that and I think it's something that a lot of people jump from home brewing to craft brewery, but I will always be very happy that I had spent those years in other breweries learning. There's a real skill to that replicating the same thing over and over again, ensuring that what you're releasing is the highest quality.
Pete: But, by the same token, I love doing exciting new things and the 24 was absolutely that.
Lachlan: And that [crosstalk 00:12:51]
Pete: It was kind of terrifying, but half the time, we're making such a small quantity of beer, you couldn't even have a whole pint of it before you took it down. You'd be taking this beer down and almost-
Lachlan: It'd be gone.
Pete: ... trying it properly for the first time, especially with experimental stuff, that was a ... We had these little coasters where people would fill out ... it said, what did you drink? What did you think? And people could fill it out and say what they thought of the beers. So you obviously needed a pretty thick skin.
Lachlan: Yeah [crosstalk 00:13:21]
Pete: Because real craft beer nerds like to let you know exactly what they think of what they've just drunk.
Lachlan: Yeah, absolutely.
Pete: [crosstalk 00:13:28] absolutely. so, but it was a great process. We had this little black box and people would post their little coasters in there and we'd read the marked ones. I think the most notable night was, I did a green coffee bean saison, which I [inaudible 00:13:44] because we'd done a collaboration with People's Coffee doing a coffee bock, which is a beer we still make called Dark Arts.
Pete: So we'd done that, but while I was hanging out at the Roastery, they had all these fresh green coffee beans, and I was like, wow, these ... they've just got a really unique smell. It's very different to finished coffee. It's incredibly spicy and fruity. And I was like, wow, it'd be really interesting to see if you could capture that flavour in something like a saison. So I made a saison, put green coffee beans in it and I was stoked because I got that flavour in there. The only problem being, it turns out, everyone really fucking hates that flavour.
Lachlan: [inaudible 00:14:25]
Pete: So, you know, one of the coasters I got that night was ... what did it say? "This beer was disgusting. You should have chucked it down the drain. Be a brewer, not a chef". And I was like ... at the time, I was like, that's a bit mean. But then, I don't know, afterwards I was like, well, you know, no, fuck it, because you need to push boundaries I think. You need to-
Lachlan: Yeah absolutely.
Pete: ... try new things, because if you never try anything new, then you never make any progress and it's always interesting that for beers like that, especially ... it's not necessarily that difficult to make a beer that offends nobody. It's kind of, to me, sometimes more satisfying to make a beer that's quite polarising because you'll find there'll be people that hate it, but then for every hater, there'll be somebody who just loves it. It's right up their alley. Quite interesting. Fun.
Lachlan: So you talked a bit about-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:15:27]
Lachlan: Yeah, so you talked about [inaudible 00:15:29] about pushing the boundaries and try and make different beers. I think one of the first things that especially new people to Garage Project, especially back when the bottles started popping up, even in Australia, 2014 maybe? Maybe a bit earlier. It was your labels that were-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:15:44] we sent beer to Melbourne before we sent beer to Auckland.
Lachlan: Yeah, right. There we go.
Pete: I think we felt ... I mean obviously, I knew Australia quite well. I'm very fond of it and I think we felt that there was a real ... there is, there's a real affinity between Wellington and Melbourne.
Pete: The cultures are very similar, obviously the size if vastly different, but it's like Wellington is a bit like somebody hit Melbourne with a shrink ray.
Lachlan: [crosstalk 00:16:14] yeah.
Pete: We felt like there was that connection and we naturally just were sending beers there and they were received really well, which was great.
Lachlan: I know one of the first things that customers always notice with beers is the labelling and Garage Project, back then was, I think, one of the first breweries I'd seen using artwork as opposed to a core range that all looked the same, maybe with slight colour variances, but you guys ... Garage Project are always well known for their labelling. You mentioned that Jos is from computer gaming design. Is that from him? Or where does that unique labelling come from?
Pete: So Jos and I still are the creative team. We've got Matt Sloan who works with us and Tim, who's done the art on quite a few beers and he's there as an artistic director as well. So, it's just a little team of four of us and I think we just come up with ideas. Quite often we'll have quite a strong sense of what we want, in terms of the art and then it's a matter of trying to track down the right artist. I'm a strong believer that you start drinking a beer before you've opened the package. You see something on the shelf, it draws you in, hopefully you had some kind of response to it, you turn it round, you read what's on the back of it. So I write the stuff on the bottles and cans still. You read what it's about. Even the story, it should draw you in and then it's creating a holistic experience and then you open it up, pour it out and, fuck, it's so important that what's inside is awesome too, because-
Lachlan: Yeah, absolutely.
Pete: ... drinkers aren't stupid. They don't ... just because it looks good on the outside, you've got to, even more so I think, you've got to back up what's on the inside. It's got to stand up to everything you've said on the outside. It's interesting you say that we're so different to that kind of branded look. Somebody right at the beginning of Garage Project was this marketing guru guy that we were chatting to. And he's like, "fuck, whatever you do, don't do this. Don't do this art thing. It'll be death to your brand. You've got to be able to see your logo 15 feet away in a bar fridge. If you don't fucking do that, you're dead". And obviously that was pretty terrifying at the time and we [inaudible 00:18:33] like, well, no, no. We're not going to do that because we're really excited about this changeable art. It's just kind of fun.
Lachlan: I think that it's [crosstalk 00:18:43]
Pete: [crosstalk 00:18:43] it allows you to anything. I don't think we've ever felt like we're painted into a corner. You can do anything at Garage Project. It's kind of fun.
Lachlan: Absolutely. It's always the element of fun.
Pete: We ignored this person, and thank God we did, because [00:18:56]
Lachlan: So the ... obviously your labels and your beers were really well received for a number of years, but I think it was in 2015, you experienced rapid growth. I think you were in the Deloitte top fast 50 and [crosstalk 00:19:12]
Pete: [crosstalk 00:19:12] number one. We were the fastest growing business in New Zealand, which is pretty crazy, isn't it?
Lachlan: It's amazing and absolutely outstanding, but that would bring on its own new challenges. What challenge-
Pete: Actually, the thing was, we entered that year and we haven't entered any other year, but we probably had that kind of growth other years as well. It's been-
Lachlan: Does that rapid growth bring on new challenges? Especially coming from just the three of you?
Lachlan: What other challenges did you face?
Pete: There's a lot more than three of us now. So Ian's now head of the brew team at Aro, but we've got five or six other brewers on the team there. We've got our own sales people. We've always done, pretty much, our own distribution, because, I don't know, we just get funny like that.
Pete: We like to own almost everything we can, all the way down the like until it gets to a bar or bottle shop.
Pete: But, yeah, does it bring its own challenges? Hell yeah. God, I don't think I ever imagined that it would be this big. I think talking about the benefits of it being big, is that I didn't ever really consider just how cool it would be to create something that drew other cool people in. Do you know what I mean?
Lachlan: Yeah, absolutely.
Pete: It kind of ... like a planet, it kind of develops its own gravity and it just seems like we've drawn other cool people into the business and its immensely satisfying. In New Zealand, we talk about family, we talk about [inaudible 00:20:51] and there is a real [inaudible 00:20:55] in Garage Project. It's a pretty close team even though we've spread over two sites now. Plus, we have this relationship with B Studio up in the Hawke's Bay, which is a contract facility that we basically partnered with them early on and helped them with the setup and so we brew a few of our beers up there as well. But, yeah, immense challenges come with growth.
Lachlan: I can totally imagine, and with one big part of that growth, I think it was 2017, you opened where you are now, the Wild Workshop.
Lachlan: So you mentioned that's part of your Wild Beers, all the Sour Beers, but you also launched natural wines.
Lachlan: What's the idea behind Natural Wines?
Pete: Now I have to lay down a quick disclaimer, that I personally have a very rare form of attention deficit disorder, that when anyone starts talking about wine, I get bored and wander off. But Jos is an enormous fan of natural wine and so, this is Jos's project. I'm very supportive of it, but Jos does the natural wine. Which is cool, I'm very interesting in it. Its very cool. So that's happening here in the Wild Workshop as well, as well as we've got some vines in the ground around Nelson, which is the same area that all the hops are grown as well. We keep ourselves busy.
Pete: [inaudible 00:22:32]
Lachlan: Speaking of keeping yourself busy, you had ... I think it was about a month ago now, maybe two months ago, your Hāpi festival, which drew international praise for the brewery list. The breweries that came out ... I know in Australia, people were just jumping and heading over there and-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:22:52]
Lachlan: Yeah, what is the Hāpi festival?
Pete: What was the question?
Lachlan: What is the Hāpi festival?
Pete: Oh, what is the Hāpi festival.
Lachlan: And how'd you get it together?
Pete: There are two layers to this. One is that, as I said, we keep ourselves very busy and we are involved in what we call, the Hāpi project, which ... or Hāpi research, which is ... we've partnered with one of the hop farms down in Nelson, called Freestyle Farms, to basically ... it's quite a broad kind of idea, but we're very interesting in looking at hop quality, in looking at trying to grow new hop varieties and really just play around and explore anything to do with hops. So, that's what Hāpi Research is. We're in this amazing position in New Zealand where we grow these fantastic hops and it also draws a list ... like an A-list of the most awesome brewers in the world are all drawn down here at harvest. They come to check out hops and Freestyle this year, we're offering the chance for people to actually come and do lot selection.
Pete: It's something they do in the states a lot, but has not really been available in New Zealand. So, it's a chance for you to come and basically try hop varieties picked on certain days from certain blocks and really choose exactly the kind of flavour that you want to have in your beer, because there is variation.
Pete: It's not like any of them are shit, but it's like ... they vary. They have different flavour profiles, and you know what you're trying to achieve with a certain hop. So all of these brewers are drawn down for the harvest, and it was Jos's idea, he was like, "we've got all these amazing brewers coming. We know they're in town. Why don't we do a beer festival using them?"
Pete: And at the same time, we ran a symposium where we ... a lot of people coming down really are experts in their field, especially around using hops. It's part of the Hāpi research, is basically building this knowledge base about hops and how to use them and sharing it, not just with Garage Project, but with the brewing industry in general. So, the symposium was basically open to all Kiwi brewers and Australian brewers were welcome to come as well. Anyone was welcome and we gave free tickets to Kiwi brewers.
Pete: They came along and we just had this whole symposium, which was a mixture of hop growers, brewers, and scientists, and I think it's really cool to get all those people together in one room because there hasn't necessarily been a lot of communication between these different people and I think it's immensely useful for hop growers to know what brewers want. For brewers to know what's going on on hop farm and for everyone to sit there and soak up some of the really interesting scientific stuff that's happening, because they will have following effects in how we use our hops in beers and how we grow hops in the first place.
Pete: So, I think it went super well. I think everyone enjoyed it and I can only imagine that it's only going to get more and more exciting next year and the following year as we grow it.
Lachlan: And then you did-
Pete: And then, of course, there was a giant piss up afterwards.
Lachlan: With all the [ponters 00:26:28] come too and I guess, for people that didn't get their ... or actually might not have heard of it, some of the breweries that actually .. I'm looking at a list now and the breweries are a who's who of the top craft breweries. Hill Farmstead, Cloudwater, Firestone Walker, Modern Times, Other Half [crosstalk 00:26:43]
Pete: [crosstalk 00:26:43] a lot of cool kids [crosstalk 00:26:46]
Pete: And in most cases, you had the actual brewer there manning the tap, pulling the beer, which is ... I think it's a pretty cool opportunity. That was pretty awesome. And we did it in Te Papa. So I don't know if anyone ... if you've been to Wellington, you've probably been to Ta Papa. It's the national museum-
Lachlan: Yeah, that's great.
Pete: And it's just the most incredible space, kind of like a cathedral. It was amazing. So Matty handles all of our events at the Garage Project and we do a lot of them between [inaudible 00:27:19] Beervana and then the Hāpi festival. It was incredible. So the last ... the museum was open to the public all day and we held the symposium during the day there and then the doors shut, we had one and a half hours and we managed to get this beer festival set up in that time. It was just remarkable. Matty's just incredible. Just this ... everything was just so organised.
Lachlan: That's amazing.
Pete: Definitely amazing. That was [inaudible 00:27:48]
Lachlan: And then the last thing that came from the festival is ... I know we're super excited of this, we haven't got them yet, they're on the shipping container, probably halfway across, your collaboration Hāpi Sessions.
Pete: Yeah, so the whole idea of the sessions were like kind of jam sessions. Like playing jazz. You'll have a jazz standard and then people get together and they riff and play and you end up with these incredible kind of permutations of a thing. So, with each of the breweries and the breweries were Firestone Walker, Other Half from New York, Trillium, and Three Weavers from LA. So I feel like each of those breweries, I picked them ... we picked them because I feel like they are basically top of their game with different styles.
Pete: So, for each brewery we picked one of their beers that is that quintessential style and then we riffed on it and we used Kiwi hops instead of American or a blend of them, fresh from harvest, all of them were from the lot selection that we did at Freestyle and just came up with these beers. And they were all totally different [crosstalk 00:29:04]
Lachlan: I can't wait and the hype in Australia is going off for them. We [crosstalk 00:29:08]
Pete: [crosstalk 00:29:09] honest, the Aro street, the trillium one, has sold out here.
Lachlan: Oh yeah.
Pete: I went to get one the other day and I was like, oh fuck it!
Lachlan: [crosstalk 00:29:17] gone already.
Pete: [crosstalk 00:29:19]
Lachlan: I guess last, but not least, for Garage Project, what can we see? Are you working on any new projects? Or what can we see in the future?
Pete: We're always ... the 24/24 obviously sounds hectic. I think 24 beers in 24 weeks ... I think we've broken that record-
Pete: ... every year that we've done it. We produce far more than that now. Especially now that we've got wine up top. So it is a nonstop frenetic pace producing all these new things. Obviously we've got Aro street producing clean beer, but hopefully, you know, experimental, interesting. We've got Marion street, which is now after ... it's a couple of years old now, but it's finally started to produce beer. We've got over 90 thousand litres of [inaudible 00:30:11] beer sitting in barrel here.
Pete: Really starting to be able to produce some fascinating things coming out of here, which is really exciting. You can imagine waiting for this. Waiting for a couple of years to actually be able to release something. It just makes you sweat bullets.
Pete: And then we've obviously, got natural wine as well on top of it, which I've got to say, it's being super well received in Australia. It's really cool.
Pete: So I'm trying to [crosstalk 00:30:39] any particular projects? We're working on an entirely native saison at Marion street using Totara barrels. So, Totara is like a native timber that they used to use to make wine barrels.
Lachlan: Yeah, cool.
Pete: We managed to secure a wine barrel, a massive ... like a couple of thousand litre wine barrel, a very old one and we'll be doing that. Gosh, a whole range of really cool stuff.
Lachlan: Never stops.
Pete: And then, of course, we've got Beervana coming. So, that's always an opportunity for us to really just go to town. I think it's been our philosophy from the very beginning, that people come to festivals, they pay quite a lot of money to get in. They really deserve something kind of special.
Pete: There's no point in just turning up to a festival and there being the same beers you can bet any other day of the week at a pub on tap. You know? You want something fun, outlandish. It's a beer festival too, so you want big flavours because your pallettes just get overwhelmed with so many different things happening.
Pete: So, we always try, and bring our A-game to festivals like that. I think GABS ... we've had GABS Melbourne. That was a super successful. That was really fun. We had layered beers and fresh IPAs and we'll be trying to do something even more exciting for Beervana this year. It's fun too.
Lachlan: Yeah [crosstalk 00:32:10]
Pete: This should all be fun. I think that's our number one philosophy at Garage Project. As long as we're still having fun ... I mean, obviously, it's stressful and frantic, but it's got to be fun, because if it's fun for us, then hopefully it's fun for everybody else.
Lachlan: I think that's the underlying message from all the Garage Project beers you have. There's always that sense of fun.
Lachlan: Thank you so much today for taking the time out. So, I'm sure you're always busy-
Pete: [crosstalk 00:32:37]
Lachlan: ... but sitting down and having a chat, giving people those little inside stories that they might not know. Everyone, keep drinking the Garage Project beers. They're always fantastic and thank you so much for joining me.
Pete: My pleasure Lachlan. Thank you very much. Cheers guys.
Lachlan: Garage Project first appeared in the Australian market back in 2014 and enjoyed much success to date. I managed to catch up with the Australian national sales manager, Adam Holiday at GABS Sydney to discuss the rise of Garage Project in Australia.
Lachlan: Hey everyone. I am currently in the mid-session break of GABS Sydney 2019. I'm sitting down with Adam Holiday, the national sales manager of Garage Project. Thanks for joining me.
Adam: How are you? Thanks for having us.
Lachlan: So Garage Project previously in Australia was imported by Phoenix Beverages.
Lachlan: However, as Pete alluded to earlier in an interview, Garage Project are really passionate about having control of the entire business. So they hired yourself in 2017?
Adam: Yeah, correct. I came onboard in July 2017. So I've been with the guys for just over ... or just under two years and then since then, the team's really grown. So, we've got a Victorian sales rep, as well as Cain, who looks after New South Wales for us. And all that's with that idea of not just having control over where the beer goes, but also the relationships that we have. We're a very relationship focused brewery and the idea is to have feet on the ground to help build those relationships.
Lachlan: Yeah, absolutely. I think having a rep on the ground really helps with that relationship between breweries, bar, bottle shops as well. One thing that Garage Project is very heavy on is limited releases and all that. Australian beer market is very heavy on those.
Lachlan: How do you find that with ... is that easy to sell into the Australian market? Or how do you find that?
Adam: Yeah, I think the response to the limited releases has been really strong and we're really appreciative of, I guess, people like you guys, Beer Cartel, selling everything through and the response on CVC and Beer thread and other forums. We've got to remember that New Zealand is a population of about 4 million, which is the population of Sydney or Melbourne. So when we do get in those limited releases, the response is fantastic and we really do love and appreciate that. The challenge for us for growth is around getting those core range or ongoing beers moving through. So, yeah.
Lachlan: Yeah, absolutely with the core range, one of the challenges, I guess, with the Australian beer market is that there's been a really big push for local beers [inaudible 00:35:09] in Sydney, or Melbourne [inaudible 00:35:10] in Melbourne. How do you find that, being a ... I guess, technically an international, but obviously our close neighbour, how do you find that being a New Zealand brewery coming into Australia?
Adam: Yeah, cool. Yeah there are some challenges and I think the other big thing that's happened over the last two years and even before that, the quality of beer coming from local Australia breweries just keeps growing at an expediential rate and it's got to that point where it's not even just about buying a local Australian beer, it can be like literally buying a local New South Wales beer or a beer from the inner west, depending on where you live in Sydney. So, for us it's about finding the beers that might fit that aren't going to be as saturated. So we are pretty excited that things like White Mischief and Cereal Milk Stout, they're beers that are going to become ongoing parts of the range for Australia.
Adam: So, as opposed to trying to attack the, I guess, the pale ale or the IPA market, which is pretty saturated and competitive. Whilst we stand behind those beers, I think there's some other exciting opportunities for us with beers that maybe are a little less prevalent, in terms of style, to have an ongoing ... So, White Mischief and Cereal Milk are going to be launched in six-packs soon in Australia.
Lachlan: Yeah [inaudible 00:36:21]
Adam: So they're beers that we're going to put a lot of energy behind. We're also pretty excited to have things like Pernicious Weed and DFA available year round, that we know can be here in 10 days at a cold ship. So we stand behind the quality of the product as well.
Lachlan: As the music gets louder in around the GABS in the mid-session, the last question I wanted to ask you is, I know originally, the beers were only shipped into Melbourne itself and then they got bought up from Melbourne into Sydney.
Lachlan: Now, the beers get shipped into Melbourne and Sydney, like you said 10 days between canning and on the shelves at a bottle shop, which is insane.
Lachlan: Can we expect more of that into other states? Into other suburbs? Into the expansion into Australia itself and even into ... further into the wild? What do you think for Garage Project?
Adam: Yeah, for Australia, just to clarify, it's 10 days shipping as opposed to ... whilst we try and get it as tight. So they're coming off the canning line and then, bang here. So some stuff that will hit Australia will be two and a half weeks and it's on the shelf. Some of it might be four to six, but yeah.
Lachlan: Still very fresh.
Adam: Still very fresh and that's ... and transported correctly as well and stored, refrigerated. So yeah, there's a shipment comes in every month to Melbourne, shipment comes in every month to Sydney. We've just stared doing drop shipments into Brisbane as well. We do drop shipments into Perth and Adelaide. We're probably a little way off having direct shipments into Perth and Brisbane. We're all about organic growth as opposed to just chucking some stock in there and hoping it moves through. We prefer to almost at that three and a half week part of the month run out of stock that then have a shipment coming through. So, yeah, Brisbane and, I guess, Perth are the next two areas that we'd probably look to for direct shipping, but that could be anywhere from six to 12 months away, to be honest. But we're very appreciative of the response that we're getting around area.
Lachlan: Last question, as I let you go back to the GABS and have a break between sessions.
Lachlan: You're pouring some pretty unique beers, including one that was specifically air freighted over within a couple days of being kegged. What's been the reaction over those beers?
Adam: Yeah, whenever ... and it's our ... I guess it's our rule, if you're going to pay for your ticket and you're going to come to a festival, GP's going to put on a show. So yeah, as an example of that, it's June first today for GAB Sydney, so in Melbourne we poured fresh May, which is part of our monthly hazy IPA series, but it's June first so we couldn't really pour fresh May for that, so we decided we'd air freight over some kegs of June fresh. So they are officially being launched in Australia here and exclusively for Sydney GABS at the same time as they're being launched over in New Zealand and the response has been absolutely amazing. So, lots of full glasses and excited [ponters 00:39:05]
Lachlan: Yeah the GABS like was incredibly long and I think you sold out most of your kegs.
Adam: Yeah, it was relentless and that's ... like we said, this is why we come to these kinds of things. The response from the general public is what keeps us coming back for these. There's four of us working the stand for about 12 hours straight and it's just the energy that you get off of everyone coming up, being excited, asking about all the different beers. It's fantastic.
Lachlan: If you're ever out there, I highly recommend that you get any of their beers. But I'll let you get back to the GABS festival. Thank you so much for joining me. For anyone out there, once again, get the Garage Project beers. If you can find any of the GABS beers, definitely recommend trying them, but thank you so much for joining me and have a good GABS.
Adam: Absolute pleasure and thanks to you and the team from Beer Cartel and everyone in Australian craft beer for supporting us. We really appreciate it. Cheers guys.
Adam: I hope you enjoy this insight into one of the worlds premiere craft breweries. Let us know what you think if Garage Project at our Facebook group, Beer Cartel Craft Beer Collective. If you'd like to continue to stay up to date with the latest from the craft beer industry, please hit subscribe at either iTunes Podcast, Stitcher or wherever you listen to your podcasts. That's it for today, I'll see you next time.