October 6, 2017
Words: Garage Project/
Photos: Lou Hatton and Garage Project
Ian, Jos and Pete are innovators, beer innovators that is.
Their story is one of humble beginnings and of pushing the boundaries within an established industry to create and inspire (and have fun doing so).
Pete had been brewing professionally for 10 years, and I was looking to try something new. Wellington was known as the ‘Craft Capital’, but didn’t have any breweries in the city at the time. We also wanted to brew beers that were different and unlike anything available. We were looking to push boundaries and bring new experiences to beer.Who came up with the name Garage Project and how did it come about?
We started in a very small garage at Ian’s house while we scouted for another space, and we then cleaned up the old petrol station in Aro Valley. We were compiling a list of possible brewery names and, in the meantime, started casually referring to what we were doing as ‘The Garage Project’. We did the classic thing of going all the way through the process and then returning to the very first thing we wrote down!What is the most outrageous experience you have had as a trio?
We’ve been fortunate to have a few over the years since starting: pouring beer at Coachella, doing live TV crosses, and serving beers from kegs strapped to our backs like oxygen tanks rank up there. The best though would be the time we were mistaken for a touring band at a hotel in the States, complete with autograph requests. Must be the combination of beards, long hair and Ian’s good looks. Beer clearly is the new rock’n’roll!
“Beer has been around for hundreds of years, but in many ways, we’re still very young as an industry looking to change and challenge the notions of what beer can be.”
We’ve been very prolific since forming and haven’t ever let up the pace. Along the way it’s been a constant stream of setbacks, and I think we’ve just become used to them and expect them. ‘Two steps forward, one step back’ holds quite true, and having a partnership has been a strength of the brewery. If one is down, the others are generally up, and it helps to share the load. Watching our supporters’ reaction to new beers and events is always a great energy boost and helps remind us why we do what we do.Was there a specific moment when you really thought you’d ‘cracked it’, or were most proud of what you’ve accomplished?
We’ve certainly had a few over the years. Some of the moments at Beervana where we introduced new concepts for serving and presenting beer, like the ‘Two Tap Flat White’, or ‘Ziggy’s Carrot Cake’ complete with lemon and orange foam spray. We get a huge amount of satisfaction from seeing someone who might not otherwise be a beer drinker change their mind after experiencing one of ours. We also feel enormous pride from seeing the team at GP develop and grow into new careers and opportunities within this great industry.
Be completely committed to your business. If you believe in it, dive right in and be 100% committed. You can’t dabble on the weekends, and it will consume your life (hopefully in a good way) for the first several years at least. Seek advice early and share your ideas with people you respect to validate them. You can only launch once, so get your founding story right from the outset. Finally, enjoy the ride and take time to celebrate the successes along the way.Where do you see the business going from here?
In some ways, we feel like we’re just getting started. We’re now surrounded by an amazing team that’s enabling us to explore ideas and concepts we’re very excited about. Beer has been around for hundreds of years, but in many ways we’re still very young as an industry looking to change and challenge the notions of what beer can be. We’re excited by that and relish the prospect of helping change beer forever.
“Watching our supporters’ reaction to new beers and events is always a great energy boost and helps remind us why we do what we do.”