Craft-beer brewer Pete Gillespie has his dream job, although he says brewing boils down to being a "yeast farmer".
The goal is to keep the yeast happy and in the right conditions for fermentation to occur, a task requiring early mornings, heavy lifting and hours of cleaning.
"It's not glamorous or romantic, but there's something about brewing that gets under people's skin."
Mr Gillespie co-founded Aro Valley microbrewery Garage Project with Jos Ruffell last year and last month they took the next step into production with a new, larger brew kit.
The founders believed Wellington, seen as the country's craft beer capital, was a perfect fit for a microbrewery.
They began with a 50-litre kit, and brewed a new beer every week for 24 weeks, starting with Pernicious Weed – a "big, hoppy" beer and one of Mr Ruffell's favourites.
This process helped their development, as each week they experimented in the open, letting patrons give feedback on the brew, Mr Gillespie says. "The craft beer community is really supportive."
Garage Project has also drawn on the artisan passion of others in the Wellington region, collaborating with restaurants, boutique food producers, musicians and even Weta Workshop.
The brewers will collaborate with Miramar restaurant The Larder for August's Wellington on a Plate food festival.
Diners will enjoy the restaurant's food paired with craft beer, served among the tanks of the Garage Project site.
With overall beer sales dropping, it may seem like an odd time to start a brewery, but the opposite is true for craft beer, Mr Ruffell says. "I think people are prepared to spend a bit more for a beer experience."
The award-winning microbrewery hopes to add a cellar-door tasting room to its site, as the goal is to become a place for patrons to connect with the brewing process. "We want to be adored locally and respected internationally."
Meanwhile, Mr Gillespie's latest brew is Super Angry Peaches for the Malthouse's West Coast IPA challenge on July 13. It's a bitter, hoppy beer, based on the American Amarillo hop, and definitely not for everyone.
Because his ambition for the Garage Project was as a place where he could experiment, he's in his element. "I quite like a beer to have a story."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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