The constant brewer

Garage Project (GP) is a brewer. It’s also a place where people are constantly thinking up new beers (and natural wines too), and challenging the very notion of what beer is and can be.

“Variety’s the spice of life,” says GP Sales Lead Josh Lynex. ”We love having a perpetual turnover in products, with a handfull or so coming or going each week depending on what events we’re looking to celebrate or stories we want to tell.”

The ideas pour out of GP’s three founders, Pete and Ian Gillespie and Jos Ruffell, and their small creative team based at the company’s two central Wellington brew sites.

All the thinking and talk is about refinement of hop, malt and grain combinations in GP ales, lagers and stouts, about “terroir” flavours that can be added from local ingredients, and about brewing and fermenting techniques. Every month, the lads update their Fresh branded IPA, sold only through GP tasting rooms and selected bars. And for something different again, they’re now also making batches of wild fermented wine in partnership with Nelson viticulturalist Alex Graighead.

Talk about perpetual turnover! Few beverage businesses in the world would rival GP on frequency of change to product offering or the need for rapid turnaround in GS1 barcode verification. Since its launch in 2011 (in a converted Aro Valley garage and petrol station), GP has produced more than 300 different products including some staples which the creators and their fans are not ready to let go. Names like “Aro Noir”, “Pernicious Weed” and “Hāpi Daze”.

Each new product has a distinctive narrative and usually an event or quirky story to match original Kiwi artwork and a new GTIN with barcode (except for the Fresh IPA which does not go into standard supply chains). In spite of or because of all the fun and creativity, GP is very serious business. Sales growth has been phenomenal and extends to Australia, California and parts of Europe: The company, now employing 65 people, has won various awards and had 19 placings in the top 100 New Zealand craft beer poll for 2018.

For Josh and Creative Producer, Matt Sloan, GTIN allocation and barcodes are integral to every new product launch. “We have a lean team so it’s great to have the support we do from GS1’s verification team who turn around our barcodes very quickly,” says Josh.

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