In the windiest city in the world, in the shadow of Wellington’s iconic Brooklyn turbine, it was a natural choice for Garage Project to partner with Meridian, who only produce electricity from 100% renewable resources, including from the Brooklyn Turbine itself.
Turbine Pale Ale is a fresh spin on a traditional style and marks a new partnership - giving Garage Project the power to brew in a more sustainable way. Brewed with a bright golden, juicy malt base, balanced with thirst-quenching bitterness and bursting with citrus and tropical hop character, it’s a beer engineered to be enjoyed. Naturally, I had to find out the story behind this beer, as well as try a few myself. So I caught up with Garage Project owner Pete Gillespie to better understand what makes this beer a bit different and what got his blades whirring about the Turbine project:
Turbine is the first 330ml beer in a glass bottle from Garage Project and one Pete has grown to particularly love (they usually produce cans). “This beer is one I really am fond of. It doesn’t get heavy, it doesn’t make you get too pissed. It’s lightly tropical - citra, galaxy and strata hops. It has a crisp aroma but isn’t too heavy either. It rides a nice line between interest and drinkability.”
Marketing Turbine has been a collaborative process between Garage Project and Meridian which has thrown up some new experiences for the Wellington brewer. “It’s the first time we’ve ever done a poster campaign. At Garage Project, we pride ourselves on our art in the business and conducting more alternative marketing methods. But seeing our art plastered on the walls of the city was really awesome. We also made a short film with Meridian. While filming, we used a giant wind machine - who knew such things existed in Wellington!”
The collaboration between Garage Project brewery and Meridian, New Zealand’s largest renewable electricity generator, marks the first time that a certified renewable energy product has been made available in New Zealand – providing Garage Project with a clear means to recognise and celebrate their preference for renewable electricity generation. The renewable energy certificate is provided by the NZECS and exists to allow consumers of electricity to purchase certification for the particular type and volume of electricity generation that they value.
“Turbine came through a natural progression of an idea we already had. We wanted to make a beer about the wind turbine in Brooklyn because it’s iconic to Wellington, kind of like the giant statue of Jesus is for Rio - but our version” says Pete. “My co-owner Jos cheekily approached Meridian to find out if we could directly plug into the turbine to power the beer. Meridian told us that that wouldn’t work but told us about the NZECS mark. We agreed to do it. I wouldn’t have thought of doing a collaboration with Meridian but we are excited to be the first small business to use this energy certificate.”
Whilst Garage Project’s brewery isn’t directly plugged into the turbine, the electricity they use is matched on an annual basis with 100% renewable energy generated from Meridian's Brooklyn Turbine. That’s pretty neat. But what’s even cooler is that Garage Project is on its way to becoming a truly green brewer (and we’re not just talking about the greenness of the hops).
Pete explains that Garage Project is in the process of breaking down every activity in their business to measure their carbon footprint. It’s a time-consuming enterprise, but a worthwhile one. Wherever possible, they’re looking to improve business practices but, likely, Garage Project will need to buy carbon credits. As such, they’re working with Ekos, a New Zealand based sustainability adviser, which Pete likes because it means any trees planted through their purchase of carbon credits will be in New Zealand.
The Right Ingredients
Even though Garage Project has grown, and are now collaborating with a huge Kiwi listed issuer like Meridian, Pete says they’re just the same as they were when they started out; experimenting, playing with ideas and producing lots of beers. “We’re really lucky that our team here are really creative and we come up with amazing creative suggestions. We look for new artists for every beer, which is really fun. Most of what we do is still like a nursery bed or an incubator: We experiment and then nurture and launch our beers into the world. We also do much bigger releases, like this one. Big launches require more planning. You can’t come up with an idea on a whim. You need to think it through” says Pete.
Pete believes that every beer should have its own personality, from when you look at the bottle up until you drink it dry. “For me, it’s a whole package. I find it really cool. One thing I never anticipated when I started Garage Project was how much I would love working alongside other creative people. You see them develop and grow - it’s really cool”
So, what would Pete pack in a picnic basket to go and enjoy a picnic at the turbine?
“A classic ploughman’s". Strong cheddar cheese, some pickled onions and ham with crisp baguette. Nice heavy things which won’t blow away in the wind!” he says, laughing.