Pursuit of Hāpiness II

The pandemic did not stop Garage Project (Wellington) in 2020 from releasing the sixth and seventh volumes of their highly-anticipated New Zealand (NZ) hop-centric collaboration series, Hāpi Sessions. The Vol.6  is with The Veil Brewing Co. (Virginia) and is a juicy and hazy beer brewed with fresh Riwaka hops. Meanwhile, Garage Project teamed up virtually with Green Cheek Beer Co. (California) for Vol. 7, Just ‘Cause You Feel It, a “California Dry Double IPA” featuring the coveted hop variety, Nelson Sauvin. We revisit these latest two outturns to rediscover the hidden secrets of NZ hops.


What once started out in a garage in Aro Valley, Wellington by Pete Gillespie, Jos Ruffell, and Ian Gillespie in 2011, Garage Project is now one of the most sought-after craft breweries not just in Australia and NZ, but also around the world. In 2015, the brewery took the top spot in the Fast 50 Index of Deloitte thanks to its 664 percent annual growth. Not just that. In 2017, Garage Project was hailed the best brewery by the Brewers Guild of New Zealand. The brewery also claimed 19 spots in the 2018 Great American Beer Festival (GABS) Hottest 100 Kiwi Craft Beers poll with their iconic beers: Death From Above (2nd) Pernicious Weed (3rd), and Party & Bullshit (5th) among others.

Pursuit of Hāpiness
Jos Ruffell at the 2019 Young Master International Beer Festival (YMIBF) in Hong Kong


Garage Project took things a notch higher in 2019 by rolling out the red carpet and inviting the international craft beer community to Wellington for the first Hāpi Festival & Symposium. The objective of the festival was to showcase international hop-forward beers from fellow craft breweries across the globe. Some of the participating breweries include Hill Farmstead Brewery, Cloudwater Brew Co., Trillium Brewing Company, Stone Brewing, and Monkish Brewing Co. among others. The proceeds of the event were used to fund the Hāpi Hop Research Centre.


The global gathering also paved the way for Hāpi Sessions with its first four volumes released in 2019. Garage Project worked with Trillium, Firestone Walker, Other Half, and Three Weavers to recreate a beer from each of the mentioned partnering breweries and consequently feature the salient characteristics of at least one harvest-fresh NZ hop variety.

Hāpi Sessions Vol. 6 The Veil x Garage Project “New, New, Normal, Normal” 

Name: New, New, Normal, Normal
Brewers: Garage Project, The Veil Brewing Co.
Style: Specialty IPA: New England IPA
ABV: 8%
Review Year: 2020

New, New, Normal, Normal was brewed with oats, oat flour, and Citra hops in the boil. This hazy beer was then dry-hopped lavishly with Sabro hops and harvest-fresh Riwaka from the Freestyle Hop Farm in Nelson.


This beer is being evaluated as a Specialty IPA: New England IPA (21B) in the context of the provisional guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) for the said beer style. The most current version of the guidelines can be found on the BJCP website.


Hazy straw color with a foamy white head. Fragrant aromas of ripe mango, pineapple, and peaches. Medium-bodied; moderate carbonation. Hop-driven flavor; primarily ripe and juicy mango. Bitterness is a notch below medium, giving way to the mentioned juicy character; a slight mineral-like quality present that seems to temper down the sweetness. Bready malt backbone as with many other beers of this style. Mango peels with resin-like bitterness surface late and lingers into the aftertaste. A faint “hop-burn” was noted as the beer settled down.


Very good. New, New, Normal, Normal, benchmarked as a New England IPA, delivers a hop-forward, juicy, and fragrant beer showcasing a primarily ripe mango profile. The bready malt backbone, in retrospect, really reminded us of some of the “hazies” from The Veil. The noted hop-burn could be lessened in the next interpretations, should there be.

Hāpi Sessions Vol. 7 Green Cheek x Garage Project “Just ‘Cause You Feel It”

Name: Just ‘Cause You Feel It
Brewers: Garage Project, Green Cheek Beer Co.
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
Review Year: 2020

Marketed as a “California Dry Double IPA,” Just ‘Cause You Feel It was made with huge waves of Mosaic, Strata, and fresh Nelson Sauvin.


This beer is being evaluated as a Double IPA (22A) in the context of the 2015 Beer Style Guidelines of the BJCP. The most current version of the guidelines can be found on the BJCP website.


Broadly clear pale gold with slight haziness; foamy white head. Moderate pilsner-like aroma with hints of orange citrus. Medium-light body; moderately-high carbonation. Hops and malts almost balance out each other, with the former up by a thin margin. Light canned pineapple cocktail, lychee; bright pilsner-like bready malt character. A faint floral impression lingers into the aftertaste, while a light yeasty character becomes noticeable as the beer settles down. Very dry; no alcohol warmth.


Very good. Just ‘Cause You Feel It is noted to be a “drier” and brighter interpretation of a Double IPA with the malts and hops almost in equal presence. Ultimately, it is a very thirst-quenching beer with a drinkability of an American Pale Ale.


The 2020 edition of Hāpi Sessions saw two new names on the list with two fresh takes on each of the brewery’s flagship recipes. New, New, Normal, Normal with The Veil is a juicy and hazy beer that highlighted ripe mangoes. Meanwhile, Just ‘Cause You Feel It with Green Cheek is a dry but refreshing approach to the Double IPA that we think is best enjoyed on a hot summer day.

With six outturns done and dusted, we have been able to acquaint ourselves with New England IPAs, a “Hoppy Pilsner” (NZ Pilsner), Double IPAs, and the like, brewed to showcase the salient characteristics of NZ hops. Maybe when the next set of beers drop, we could finally see “Triple IPAs” from the likes of Finback and Equilibrium.

Also, in case you didn’t notice, the fifth volume was skipped. It looks like Volume 5 and 8 would be released as a pair.



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