Garage Project Photo-Chop-Shop

Every year at Golding’s we’ve run an event with Garage Project as an SPCA fundraiser. A sort of tap takeover/bring your dog to the pub day. This year was a raging success and collectively we raised over $6000 for the Wellington SPCA. Absolutely Stirling.

One of the things we decided to do was rename every beer on tap with dog/animal puns. Sounds easy enough. We’ll just change the name on the menu board, and that’s sorted. Oh, and I got asked very nicely, if I could please change the tap badges to make them more ‘doggy’.

Well now, messing around in Photoshop is one of my favourite ways to waste time when I should be doing more important things at work. We had eight beers to re-brand, plus one new beer that required all new art. Whilst some came out better than others, overall I’m pretty pleased with the end results (if I do say so myself). I thought I’d share them here.

Credit to Mattie, Ian and the Garage Team for the dog puns.

Death From Above

At Golding’s we use a rectangular tap badge, quite unlike what most other bars use. So my usual technique is to take bottle labels or posters, then crop and shrink them down to size. With Garage project I’m usually pretty blessed. They frequently commision artists to create unique label art. In this case, it’s Tim Gibson of Flying Whities who made the original:


And our version…



Baltic Porter

The original is designed by ALC, and features a boxing Russian Bear.

GP Baltic Porter

For out version, I nicked a wolf head from another piece of ALC art and popped it on the bear’s body (because wolves are dogs, right?).



Mon P’tit Chou

Mon P’tit Chou means “my little cabbage”.


The original art reminds me very much of the work of a wonderful artist Stasia Burrington. So I cycled through her portfolio to find something doggy that still had the right feeling basically stole it wholesale (sorry, it was for charity).


Mon P’tit Chien means ‘my little dog’. This badge presented an interesting challenge – typefaces. Swapping the image was easy, but altering a unique lettering, that’s difficult. For expediency, I started from scratch, and went with a typeface that evoked the right feeling for me.

China White Beyond the Pale

Beyond the Pale - A2 Poster

Silhouette of a bottle? No problem. How about Silhouette of a cat? I had cats growing up, so I couldn’t resist a kitty reference somewhere in here.

BEYOND THE TAILRecreating the background was the hardest part of this one. In fact, I feel like this is perhaps the most slap-dash of all the badges I made. Then again, I was on a deadline and I feel I got the jist of it.

Hapi Daze


This is another Tim Gibson work. It’s pretty great. All I had to do was change the words and drop in a doggie with a frisby.

YAPPY DAZEWhilst doing this one, I noticed for the first time that the chap in the lawn-chair is blazing a splif…

For him, life is sweet.

For him, life is sweet.

Hops on Pointe

This one I’ll admit to copping out on. The art simply does not crop well.


So basically I simplified the whole design, added an ‘R’ and popped in a few paw-prints.


L’il Red Rye

This was my easiest job of the lot, being the most canine-related of all the GP bottle art I was working with.

LilRedRye_TBforShopify_500x500_150dpi_1024x1024 (1)Again, text presented the biggest challenge. I don’t love the text I went with, but it was the best I could wrangle. As for the doggies, a little palette swap to make them more Retriever-y and…


Angry Peaches

This is both one of my favourite Garage Project beers, and the badge I’m proudest of/spent the most time on.


It’s also, coincidently, the badge that had the most Photoshop-trickery/bullshit go into it. Can you spot any?


My only wish is that I’d made the top dog blue. Otherwise, FUCKING NAILED IT!

Tummy Tickles Brown Ale

So we had one more beer to make a completely new piece of art for. Tummy Tickles was a one-off small-kit brew batch of a hoppy Brown Ale. So basically, one of my favourite styles of beer, ever.

I had a concept, which was fake/subversive Victoria encyclopedia illustrations. I think that there’s potential for an entire brewery brand to be based around this idea (Remedy Brewing has played with something similar).

Here was what I came up with:


I think I can safely say I nailed the look I was going for.


My Secret Alter-Ego

Eagle eyed readers may have noticed a slight change in the blolg’s appearance a while back. Instead of luscious, yet slightly generic shots of beer bottles and taps, my site now has a quicky graphic of a megaphone, constructed from the silhouette of a bottleneck. It’s been christened ‘The Megafoam’ (by Phil) and damn, now I wish I’d thought of that for the blog’s name…

Anywho, I’m sure you’re all wondering how I could afford to hire a professional designer for what is essentially a hobby-blog. The answer is: I didn’t; I designed it myself. Ok, so it doesn’t look that professional. Humour me. I got bored whilst having a staffie, and started playing with some graphic design software on my work laptop. It came out ok, but I have plans to tinker with it in the future.

But to get back on topic, I do have a second secret career that few know about: graphic designing tap badges for the beers on tap at Golding’s.

Alright I’m being slightly obtuse here. What I mean is, I print out all the tap badges that go in the light boxes in Golding’s tap-banks. I could legitimately call this a second career though, because I probably do more actual design work that is actually used and seen by customers than most graphic design Interns in major companies could ever dream of.

You see we have rectangular tap badges at Golding’s and frequently small New Zealand breweries don’t have artwork that fits these. Garage Project are the notable exception to this. Which is why their tap badges frequently look rather sexy:


Click to enlarge.

In other cases, some they have circular tap badges which look a little small and silly in the light box. High res versions of these can be scaled up sometimes to a good result. Frequently you can also get away with using a digitised bottle label. Sometime the brewery has no artwork In rare cases, the brewery’s branding is so hideous that Sean won’t allow it in the bar.

Whatever the reason, I frequently have to knock up tap badges for a range of beers and breweries. So I thought I’d share a few of my favourites.

The ParrotDog Pixel Series

This badge series began with searching ‘Dead Canary’ and amongst the more morbid images was a pixel-art canary, which I fell in love with. And boom, a series was born!

PDog Taps

Since I started these, ParrotDog has begun creating more poster art for their beers, which is great. It means I will probably phase this series out eventually. They remain however, some of my favourites, because these particular badges take a basic idea and adapt it to suit the beers across the entire brewery. Sometimes though, you have a concept that suits a specific beer, which leads to great one-off badges. It just so happens that two of my favourite creations are from the same brewery…

Funk Estate Oh Kamiyo & So’Fisticuffs

Funk Badges

Click make big.

The concept behind the Oh Kamiyo badge was to capture the feel of a bootlegged VHS box, complete with mistranslation in the Japanese characters (that was *totally* intentional…). Going to say I nailed that one. The So’Fisticuffs on the other hand, I was aiming for a vintage boxing poster. Whilst I captured the feel adequately, I would have liked to included more bombastic flavour text, but the limit of the medium frequently means simpler is better.

None of these though are my favourite tap badge I’ve ever created. Oh no. That honour goes to this little fellow. My masterpiece…

Yeastie Boys/Panhead/Firestone Walker Engelbert Pumpernickel


Click size huge.

Here we see (the wrong) Engelbert Humperdinck with a loaf of pumpernickel for a head. I love this tap badge. From a design point of view, it’s not perfect by any means, but god-damn, it captures something about the beer and the people who made it. It was also immensely fun to Shop bread over the face of a historical figure…

I all seriousness, making tap badges is one of my favourite aspects of my job, but it really shouldn’t be. New Zealand’s Small breweries really need to brush up on brand promotion customer service (because that’s what this falls under ultimately) from a brand point of view.

It so happens, that I have the skills and technology to play with basic graphic design, but a lot of other bar managers don’t. As a result you frequently see poorly made, often handwritten (and sometimes barely legible) tap badges. This really doesn’t do anyone any favours; bars, breweries and certainly not customers.

This topic deserves a more focused and detailed post, which hopefully I will get around to (one day…). Suffice to say that two of my friends who are starting breweries in the next few months have consulted with me on the topic and I’ve told them the following:

  • Premade tap badges are best.
  • Three versions is ideal: circular, rectangular and square (in that order).
  • Printable A4 .pdf files (that don’t require scaling) are great for the average customer that doesn’t have access to design software.
  • Downloadable brewery logo files are my favorite (particularly .png files with transparent backgrounds).

Until everyone gets this right though, at least I get to play with Photoshop and CorelDraw and get paid for it.

Craft Beer on the Street

If there is one thing we can agree on, it is that good beer is in. Not just right now though, but for the future too. Yes, it’s here to stay. We are heading to the mainstream. I’ve seen the signs.

What signs are these you ask? Is it often quoted statistics of dubious origin that point to growth in the ‘craft’ sector, even as the beer market is dropping? Nope. Is it the rise of dedicated beer venues in all the major population centres of New Zealand? Nope. Is it the fact that even mediocre bars, restaurants and cafes frequently stock at least one line of good beer in their fridge (in Wellington anyway)? Nope.

No, for me the sign that we were truly going to made it was when I saw a bottle of good beer smashed in a gutter. It was about four years ago. I can’t remember if it was a bottle of Epic Pale Ale or Emerson’s Pilsner, but when I saw it I though “Yeah, we’ve made it. We’re grownups now.” And I’m not the only one to think this.

So I present to you now; proof that we have made it. Craft Beer on the Street: A Photo-Essay.

These photos were all taken on my Nexus 4, unarranged and presented in chronological order. Enjoy.


Looks like this Kereru Moonless Stout fell in with the wrong crowd…
Taken on Hania Street.

"I woke up in a Soho doorway, a Policeman knew my name!" Outside Gryphon Theatre, Vivian Street

“I woke up in a Soho doorway, a Policeman knew my name!”
Outside Gryphon Theatre, Ghuznee Street.

Evidence of a crime. Found outside Golding's. We don't stock Garage bottles, so it didn't come from us.

Evidence of the Crime.
Found outside Golding’s. We don’t stock Garage bottles, so it didn’t come from us.


This Stoke Amber has seen better days.
Near the Basin Reserve.

A rough night with some sailors?  The Wellington Waterfront.

A rough night with some sailors?
The Wellington Waterfront.

Honestly I don't have a joke for this one. Garage cans are like hen's teeth, and to see one crumpled on the street is surreal.  Khandalla.

Honestly I don’t have a joke for this one. Garage cans are like hen’s teeth, and to see one crumpled on the street is surreal.


Well Camouflaged
Spotted hiding in the bushes of a church carpark, Ellice Street.


‘The Aftermath’
Spotted in the wreckage of the Sevens on Vivian Street. I’m sure Ross would be proud.

On a more serious note, I find myself very conflicted by empty bottles from breweries I love, just thrown around the streets. On the one hand it means small breweries are reaching a wider audience as time goes by. On the other hand it shows a lack of respect for the product, that you would dispose of it so carelessly. More importantly, it shows a lack of respect for the environment, which bugs the living shit out of me. Still, this I guess is the price of success.

On a less serious note, the thing that most interested me was the mix of beers that I found. The only entrant from the larger, more well known breweries is Tuatara. I expected to find some Epic or at the very least some Emerson’s. I think this selection is very indicative of Wellington right now. Certainly I’d be interested in seeing what sort of a selection other cities might come up with.

Maybe this should be a regular feature? I’ll keep taking bottle shots on the street. Feel free to send me your own photos of discarded bottles too.

The Bottleneck

Saluting the Major

So it’s been a big week for me.  The so-called ‘soft’ opening of Golding’s on Monday was a smash-hit, with the place packing out.  Since then it’s been busy every night and I’ve worked quite a few long days in a row.  The next big hurdle is the Grand, or what I like to call ‘hard’ opening tomorrow.  It’s looking to be another sell-out night, with half of Wellington inviting themselves along.  Feel free to pop along yourself, all are welcome.  Just don’t expect much in the way of elbow room.

An just to entice you down, we’ll be sticking a couple of treats on tap.  First of all, another keg of the Funk Estate/Baylands Brewery Big Red Ryeding Hood.  This was the darling beer of Monday’s opening: a big, malty, hoppy, rye-y IPA.  Very fresh and a little angry, but all the better for it.

The other beer, is something a bit different.  You see, I was at the Garage the other day (well, two months ago) and told Pete the Brewer about my new job at Golding’s.

Pete: “Congrats Dude.  Hey, we should make a beer for the opening,” said Pete.

Me: “You read my mind, Old Bean,” (or something like that).

Anyway, we got to talking and collaborating and so on.  Pete wanted to make something with lots of Golding hops (for obvious reasons).  I wasn’t so keen.  East Kent Golding is all well and fine as hop varieties go, but it’s not much fun in my opinion.  I wanted to do hoppy wheat ale.  As readers will know, I had a summer-romance with one a little while back.  Suddenly I had an idea.

Me: “What if we made an English Wheat Beer?”

Pete: “A what?”

Me: “What if the England had a traditional, native wheat ale?1  What would that be like?  Kind of like a bitter or a golden ale, but with a fair dose of wheat-malt and a clean British ale yeast”.

Pete: “I see.  Sounds interesting.”

Me: “We could hop it with lots of Goldings.  It’ll be like a English/German hybrid: British hops and yeast, but with German wheat malt.”

And so it was settled.  We booked in a brew date (no mean feat, considering how busy they are at the Garage) and off we went.

I turned up on brew-day at some ungodly hour (9am. That’s ungodly by my standards).  Pete was in the middle of brewing a batch of ANZAC on the big kit.

Pete: “Hey Dude, I’ve been thinking.  I like this English/German hybrid idea.  Lets expand on that and use a combination of English and German hop varieties.”

Sounds good to me.  We got down to arguing the malt bill.  I was keen to do a split malt bill 30-40% wheat with the rest Golden Promise, but Pete disagreed.  He reckons too much wheat can be a bit ‘yucky’.  I’m only a causal home brewer, and he’s the experienced professional, so I bowed to knowledge and experience on that one.  We went with a Golden Promise base, and 15% wheat.  Pete also wanted to drop in a bit of Caramel and Aroma malts, to make it a little more Englishy.  That fitted in with the concept, so I was down with it.

We milled, we mashed, we re-circulated.  All very standard stuff:


I had my best brewing-face on.

Brewing faces may or may not contain beards.

Brewing faces may or may not contain beards.

I was a little concerned about the mash sticking, this being my first time using wheat.  I was there for the first Summer Sommer brew, which had an awful stuck-mash, that time from rye.  I could just envision a 10-hour brew day, but my fears were unfounded.  Everything went smoothly.

Like silk.

Like silk.

After running off, we got a healthy boil going, and started adding hops.  The same triple combo was used throughout the whole process: East Kent Goldings, Challenger and Hallertau Tradition.  A small  bittering addition was followed by generous late editions of all three hops.  I was measuring the hops, so I made damn sure they were properly generous additions.

As before, all went smoothly.  We boiled, we chilled, we pitched.  Yeast-wise we went with Wyeast Yorkshire Ale, a fairly clean and attenuative strain.  Soon the beer was tucked up cozily in a fermentor, bubbling away.  Easy as.

What wasn’t easy was coming up with a name.  Naming beers is tricky and often done poorly (I swear one day I will write that naming guide).  We kicked around a few names like “Free Diver” and “Dive-Bomber” but nothing quite seemed to fit.  Finally we settled on a suggestion of mine: Major Goldings.  This is both a tribute to Golding’s Free Dive, Golding hops, of which there are major amounts in the beer, and the British/German style mashup (because you know, wars and shit).

I haven’t had a chance to taste it post dry-hop, but early indications are that it’s refreshing and slightly bitter golden-ish ale.  4.3% ABV, light but full.  Now a word of warning.  There is only 30 litres or so, this being a pilot-kit brew.  It’ll be going on at Goldings on Friday, mid afternoon.  It will not last the night, so get in quick if you want to try some.

See you on Friday.  And remember  Beer is Love, ya’ll.

Sean and Pete

Pete and Sean, a pair of beardy-beer chaps.

  1. I’m ignoring the fact that they actually did and still do, sort of.

Garage Project API IPA

Inverting this tap badge reveals a hidden satanic message.

Inverting this tap badge reveals a hidden satanic message.

Beer: Garage Project ‘API IPA’
ABV: 6.7%
From: Hashigo Zake
Date: 12/02/2013

This is perhaps one of my less timely reviews: API was released in time for Webstock 2013, which was a while ago.  But it’s also the first beer off Garage Project’s bottling line, so there’s a high chance readers will see this beer further afield than the usual Wellington beer-spots.

First thing to note about API is that its a concept beer.  I love concept beers, but they don’t always work out.  Phil from the Garage pitched it to me one rather slow Saturday shift.  “It’s like an IPA, but backwards.”
“So you… reverse the hop schedule?” I asked.
“Exactly.”  (Ha! +1 to Beer Geek ability).  “We used an aroma hop for bittering and a bittering hop for flavour.”
“What’d you use?  Super-Alpha?”  I asked.
“Yeah, actually.”  Woo!  Another +1 to Beer Geek ability.  It would be +2 if I’d used the proper name for the hop.  Super-Alpha, or as it should now be known, Dr Rudi, is a New Zealand grown hop grown to have a high (or ‘super’) alpha acid content.  Alpha acids are chemicals which give beer it’s bitterness.  

My lucky guess isn’t that surprising.  I’ve known a couple of home-brewers that have used Dr Rudi for flavour and aroma, as well as a brew by ePICO, which was written about here.

The Beer
API is IPA backwards!

Hidden message: API is IPA backwards!

It’s cloudy, pale orange.  Smells leafy-green and kind of lemony.  The flavour is very bitter, but the body is full which counter-points it nicely.  The over-all hop character is peppery, with hints of lemon.

It’s a nice beer, balanced and all that bollocks.  So why do I suggest in my second paragraph that I’m a bit luke-warm about it?  Well, because the conclusion I reached after my first pint was that API isn’t much fun.  Garage Project are nothing if not masters of making hoppy beers that reach down your trousers and tug on your fun bits (metaphorically speaking, of course).  API just doesn’t do that.  It’s a pint of perfectly acceptable hoppy beer, nothing more, nothing less.

Annoyingly I think this beer could be made fantastic very easily: just a wee dash more flavour hops.  Just a smidgeon of Sauvin, a pinch of Motueka, a drizzle of Riwaka, and this beer would pop!  It would be a fun-tastic IPA.  But therein lies the problem.  You’d be using flavour hop for flavour, which would defeat the entire concept of the beer.  That’s what I thought after my first pint.

But I had to be sure.  I wasn’t thrilled by my first pint, so I had a second.  And a third.  And a fourth.  In fact, this beer was on tap during the entire week of Webstock and I had a pint of it for my staffie every single day.  And a few more pints on top of those.  In short, I drank a metric shit-load of API.1  And I will drink a lot more (I might even be drinking one as you read this).

Photo courtesy of Garage Project.

Photo courtesy of Hashigo Zake/Garage Project.

And that I think, is really the point I’m trying to get at.  It’s a pint of perfectly acceptable hoppy beer, nothing more, but certainly nothing less.  I could drink it all night and while it will might not set me aflame, I’ll never tire of it either.  And that perhaps, is one of the biggest endorsements I can give a beer.  It might not tickle my fun-bits, but hey, it’s still bloody good and you should definitely have one.2  Or two.  Or six.  Just to be sure.  

  1. Which is smaller than an imperial shit-load and uses base-ten.
  2. Although it is a little grainy, Pete.

New Release Tuesday: Garage Project Rye Chai IPA

DSC_0672Beer: Garage Project ‘Rye Chai IPA’
 Spiced Rye IPA
ABV: 7.5%
From: Hashigo Zake
Date: 22/01/2013

When starting this whole writing shindig I realised pretty quickly that first impressions are the most valuable (and frequently funniest) asset to reviewing a beer.  As such  New Release Tuesdays at work are a godsend: every week a new beer I’ve (probably) never had before.

The problem is though, that NRTs usually are one keg only (sometimes as little as 10 litres only). By the time I post it and you read it, the beer will be probably be long gone.1  So in writing about NRTs, particularly Garage Project ones, I’m being a bit of an [insert preferred genitals here] tease.  That’s certainly the case here: the Rye Chai lasted until 10 pm.  I have no idea if it will ever be brewed again either, so sorry if you’re reading this and missed out on Rye Chai, because I’m now going to tell you how nice it was.2

The Beer

That said, at first I didn’t like it.  I grabbed a quick taster before the beer went live at 5 pm (perks of the job) and I found it really overbearing on the spice character.  Forget rye or IPA, this one was all chai spice dominant, with the major character being clove.  Also, being a cloudy brown-amber (I have no photos unfortunately), it certainly didn’t look like any IPA I know of.  So I more or less dismissed it as a one note song and left it at that.

But then a bit later on in the evening we had to change to the second keg of Rye Chai, which meant running through a jug of foam, which settled down to about a pint of beer.  Now we can’t let good beer go to waste and I was about to knock off, so I valiantly volunteered to drink it (more perks of the job).

What I essentially got was flatter, slight warmer Rye Chai and I have to say I found it really quite lovely.  There was still spices all up in the whole thing but the malt body was so much fuller and richer.  I can’t say I got much rye character, but it probably contributed to the body and mouth-feel.3  

What really took me by surprise though was the hop character.  Rye Chai was dosed with the classic Simcoe/Amarillo combination that so many American IPAs use.  On my first taste I remember thinking ‘what waste of good US hops’.  However having the beer flat and warm brought out both a pleasant bitterness in the beer but also surprisingly, a zesty citrus-hop character!  It was so noticeable that I went to check and see if chai had bergamot in it like Earl Grey tea.  It doesn’t.

So all in all, Rye Chai IPA was an interesting and pleasant beer, as well as a fascinating example of what different temperatures/carbonation levels can do to flavour.  Also, maybe next time, we could try a little of it on hand-pump?  Just say’in…

  1. Usually a keg lasts a few days at Hashigo, but some last a matter of hours.  At the hight of the 24/24, beers like Day of the Dead lasted only minutes.  45 minutes to be exact.
  2. Aside from the usual criticism: it was a bit grainy, Pete.
  3. As a total aside, Pete has gone a little rye crazy lately (or should I say crazy from rye).  I like it.  Also I was there when he did his first rye beer.  That too was a bastard.