Good Beer Hunting

Hāpi Festival and Symposium — Jos Ruffell of the Garage Project

Hāpi Festival and Symposium — Jos Ruffell of the Garage Project

Garage Project’s Hāpi Festival and Symposium was held earlier this year in the lead-up to New Zealand’s hop harvest.

The symposium and festival form the public-facing side of a hop-breeding initiative Garage Project has undertaken with New Zealand’s Freestyle Farms, and with backing from the country’s Ministry for Primary Industries. Over the course of a day in Wellington’s famous Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, speakers such as Alexandra Nowell from Three Weavers Brewing Company, Matt Brynildson from Firestone Walker Brewing Company, and Paul Jones from Cloudwater Brew Co. gave talks with a focus on hops. Good Beer Hunting was there to capture a slice of the discussion.  

Afterwards, the invited breweries poured for a small festival of 1,000 people. It was a surreal situation: seeing world-renowned breweries like Trillium, Other Half, Hill Farmstead. Tired Hands and Cellarmaker serving beer in New Zealand’s national museum. 


Out of Wellington, New Zealand, Garage Project was launched in 2011 by brothers Ian and Pete Gillespie and their friend Jos Ruffell. The trio first made their presence known with the brewery’s “24/24” series: 24 beers released in 24 weeks to an eager Wellington public. 

Since then, Garage Project has made its name by continuing to push boundaries with unusual creations and projects, such as layered beer designed to imitate a flat white, making beers for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and even releasing a series of natural wines spiked with Lactobacillus or aged on unusual oak. Over the next seven years, they will also be working on the Hāpi project for the benefit of New Zealand’s hop growing industry.

I had the chance to take Jos aside, as the festival was in full swing, so he could share just what it was all about. Listen in.