Brewery of the year

20 Sep 2014 by Joel Macfarlane
It's that time again. A time for beer awards, beer festivals and general speculation on what beers warrant a second drink. This year predictably brought more beers, more bars and more breweries. But which really brought the wow factor? Which brewery pushed the limits more than the rest? Which brewery successfully delivered more knockout beers with a healthy dose of entertainment value. For me the standout this year was Garage Project.

Breadth & Pure Entertainment Value
If there was one factor alone which distinguishes Garage Project it would be the breadth of beers they pump out. I'd have to say I'm at the point where I wouldn't walk across the road to attend the release of another IPA. Garage Project delivers the full range. I've had 3 saisons from them this year. Their malt forward beers like their Special Bitter and Red Rocks are sensational. Their grape infused beers are awesome. Their Texas Tea is an American Brown ale made with chilli and cactus. Their VPA is sensational with Kaffir lime leaf, as is their Death From Above with mango, chili, Vietnamese mint and lime juice. I'm not a fan of novelty beers which are more often conversation starters than fridge regulars. But GP have somehow managed to integrate these ingredients perfectly to create some stunning brews which really show off their skill as brewers.

There are some nice brand designs out there but Garage Project is all about the art. Their bottle art is unique and distinctive. In fact I've got to admit to hanging onto an empty can of their Saison because I loved the art. Even their kegs are ringed with the same colourful designs. Their 2013 Beervana stand was pure theatrics, covered with novelty beer which somehow actually tasted good. Basically they make the brewing world a more visually interesting place.

Breweries are so often damp caves, full of stainless steel and while fascinating to home brewers aren't exactly welcoming to the public. Garage Project has a beautiful tasting room, offering up free tastings to the public. It's more than an after thought, it's a great space for a craft beer immersion. During Beervana they also opened a bar on the premises, replete with steampunk art, serving unique beers, bottles, cans and some killer pies. Once again it's a level up. 

3 years ago they brewed out of a garage on a 50L unit releasing a new beer every week. They can't have slept much because every month they've got better, releasing more beers, more art, opening a brewery, opening a tap room, barrel aging, scaling up their brewery, releasing cans, opening a temporary bar. It just goes on. So in 2014, standing in their brewery drinking a Death From Above there doesn't seem much that can touch them. So for that reason they're our favourite brewery this year. 

Boredom....not here!
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