‘GP’ stands for Garage Project. It also stands for Gangrene Penis. But don’t think about that, just keep thinking about Garage Project. ‘The’ Garage Project (as everyone with a beer drinking hole located in the frontal region of their head knows) is NZ’s most celebrated craft brewery, renowned throughout our shaky isles for their vast portfolio of unique and exotically brewed concoctions and funky label designs. Stroll into any half decent pub or craft beer retailer and there you’ll see Garage Project Beers on shelves and in fridges, sporting their cheerfully designed labels with quirky names like Fugazi, Hapi Daze, Cockswain’s Courage and Death from Above. These oddball sounding titles, together with their colourful, eye catching packaging, have been a monstrously successful in capturing the hearts and minds of beer drinkers in New Zealand. In fact, fans of Garage Project beers have become so numerous and so enthusiastic that we’ve noticed that some beer festivals have begun to resemble weird fringe cult meetings or those the spawn points for enemies in video games that require ten thousand rocket propelled grenades to subdue.
Not that there’s anything wrong with being enthusiastic, mind you! I, for the most part, really like Garage Project beers, but that’s mainly because I’m a hideous, shambling, Quasimodo half-man who drinks beer in a desperate effort to try and fill the infinite emptiness yawning at my core. Yes, it’s undoubtedly Garage Project’s greatest achievement that they’ve managed to provide us all with a fleeting respite from the slowly rising sense of dread that constitutes our modern existence. Overwhelmed by bills? Bank refused you a Loan? Worried about the relentless intrusion of the State into your private affairs? Our world is such a grim shitshow at times that without beer it’s likely that a large percentage of us would spend our days contemplating slashing our wrists with jagged pieces of plastic cutlery and weeping inconsolably. But thankfully we have beer, and we have Garage Project, so who needs to think about existential crises when you can crack a can of Hapi Daze and thrash backward Australian farmhands at Rocket League on your Playstation! No longer do beer drinkers forlornly search the trendy watering holes of Ponsonby for a decent Czech Pils, instead of the deeply uninteresting and overpriced international lagers, favoured by middle aged, Corona-drinking, degenerate, coin-eyed, upper-class, quasi-humans.
Wait, what was I talking about? Oh that’s right: Garage Project. My latest foray into the GP experience has been the Dirty Boots American Pale Ale (6.6% ABV), a Pale Ale inspired by the ‘Grunge’ scene of the early 1990’s. Indeed, the title ‘Dirty Boots’ comes from the title of a track from Sonic Youth’s 1990 album ‘Goo’, in case you didn’t know. Garage Project say that many of their beers are inspired by their musical tastes and it’s certainly a quirky sub-genre of the craft beer scene: Liberty’s ‘Rackets’ Super Pale Ale (their words, not mine), which was developed in association with the Auckland punk band of the same name, also comes to mind. Dirty Boots consists of Simcoe, the high-alpha Mosaic and Equinox hops and as you’d expect has an appealing tropical melon-pineapple aroma and the bitterness is a pleasingly harsh pine and citrus flavour, balanced out with a sweet toffee and raisin finish. Dirty Boots has a lighter carbonation than some APA’s I’ve had recently but that’s no bad thing.
Word to the wise though: If you’re into the high ABV, in-your-face-bitterness of most American Pale Ales on the shelves today then you’re likely to be disappointed. Grunge guitarists rejected the finger bleeding virtuoso guitar solos that had become the signature convention of most heavy metal big-hair-bands, instead opting for melodic and harmonious compositions that focused on the song, not the guitar solo. Guitar solos, they believed, should be to serve the song, rather than to show off a guitarist's technical skills and Garage Project have embodied this philosophy in this particular beer. From the bittering and aromas to the texture and the sweetness of the malts, no one component has been designed to scream at your tastebuds. As I said, folks who like drinking loud, proud, one-note Pale ales may ultimately come away underwhelmed so be warned.
An early seattle-music-scene inspired APA characterized by a sludgy bitterness with a thick midrange of hop, alcohol and rolled-off treble tone of malt. However, traditionalists may wish Garage Project had plugged some of their ingredients into an amp.