Pint-sized brewery opens in Wellington

21:07, Aug 23 2011
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HERE FOR BEER: Brewers Pete Gillespie, left, and Jos Ruffell.

The new guys on Wellington's craft beer scene have set themselves an epic opening challenge: to release 24 beers in 24 weeks.

Pete Gillespie, his brother Ian, and Jos Ruffell founded Garage Project, a micro-brewery based in a former Shell service station in Aro Valley, just over two months ago.

But before even brewing their first drop, the team decided their first 24 beers would all be one-off releases and would all hit the market within a 24-week window.

Mr Ruffell said they were keen to do something with a bit more personality than the usual limited range of beers released by a new brewery.

"A lot of brands . . . just hand over the range. What we wanted to do is make the process more organic," he says.

They have dubbed their approach "biere de garage", which Peter Gillespie said was influenced by a French winemaking movement.

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"You have these very established wineries that were very particular about the way wine was made, and there was a movement when people started making wines in their garages and winning awards for it."

The experimental approach is only possible because of the small size of their gear, he said.

"If you have 50 litres it doesn't matter as much if you have to chuck a brew. If you have 5000 litres, well that's a different story."

They have been on a roll so far, releasing eight different beers in barely a month, but are likely to slow down as they release stronger beers which take longer to brew. Two brews were created especially for the Wellington on a Plate event: Dr Grordbort and Funky Food, at Roxy Cinema, which the brewers served up from backpack flasks while wearing full steampunk get-up.

Upcoming brews include a collaboration with Peoples Coffee on a coffee-infused beer, and ageing a brew in rum barrels to make a "rum and raisin" drop.

Each beer so far has been released through local craft beer bar Hashigo Zake, accompanied by feedback cards. There have been lovers and haters of each beer so far, but this has not fazed Mr Gillespie.

"The aim is not making them perfect, it's making them interesting."

The Dominion Post