Pale ale with a renewable twist: a chat with Garage Project co-founder Jos Ruffell
In September 2019, Garage Project launched Turbine™ – a beer brewed with 100% certified renewable energy*, and an ode to the environment, our capital city, and Meridian’s Brooklyn Turbine.
We sat down with Jos Ruffell, Garage Project co-founder, to chat all things Turbine™, certified renewable energy and the environment.
Where did the idea for Turbine™ come from?
“Pete (Garage Project co-founder, Pete Gillespie) had been wanting to brew a beer to celebrate Wellington, to celebrate our place. The concept we'd been throwing around was to name it Turbine for the wind turbine.
It sat in the back of our minds for a while – but then it popped up – the turbine is right there, just four kilometres from the brewery, and the question was 'what if we could actually get power from the turbine?'. We got in touch with Meridian and the answer was 'no, we can't run a giant cable down from the turbine'. But one thing led to another… and together we found a way to make sure the brew was powered by certified renewable energy. Having Meridian’s Brooklyn Turbine above the brewery, it was a no brainer. It felt perfect. It’s a great reminder that we can generate electricity from renewable sources and it encapsulates everything we want this beer to be known for.”
What initially drove you to strive to brew in a more sustainable way?
“It’s definitely been an ongoing journey for us. We’ve had a sustainability team in place for a few years, and they’ve been looking at all sorts of aspects of our business. Everything from how we handle water in the brewing process – capturing it and reusing it – to other smaller initiatives. For example, we receive malt in malt sacks, so we’re looking at ways to recycle those. We’ve partnered up with the Pallet Project, recycling our pallets into furniture and decorations. We subsidise bike purchases for our team members to get around our sites... We’re constantly looking to grow and we do view it as a journey, because all these small things make a big difference.”
Why is certified renewable energy important to you?
“We can use Meridian’s certified renewable energy mark to signify what we’re doing at the brewery, our commitment towards a sustainable path and brewing in a better way. I think it’s important to set an example and show you can be in business and do your bit for sustainability too. We can brew the beer we love, be sustainable, and at the same time celebrate Wellington, the city we love. Turbine Pale Ale is about all of these things.
Garage Project is an evolving project, it’s constantly developing and changing, and to us now that means thinking about the footprint we leave and how we can brew in a more sustainable way.”
What would you say to other businesses considering certified renewable energy as a way to operate more sustainably?
“Certified renewable energy is a good a place as any to start – every business needs electricity to run, so it just makes sense to try and do that in a more sustainable way. It’s an ongoing process, it’s not a binary thing. And once you start on that journey, you start to realise all the other aspects of your business that you can improve to lessen your footprint.”
What’s the reaction been like from your customers and the brewing community?
“The response has been great. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback of people applauding the initiative, appreciating what we’ve done… and also really enjoying the beer as a result.”
What’s next for Garage Project and taking care of the environment?
“The big thing we’ve committed to is being a carbon neutral business by the end of 2020. Certified renewable energy has a big part to play in that. At the moment we’re auditing what we currently do and what we need to change to get there. The team is looking at heaps of different areas – I’d say our vehicle fleet will be a big one considering our deliveries, logistics, freight and travel.”
Finally… what’s the beer like and where can we find it?
“It's a beer Pete's wanted to brew as an evolution from Garagista to reflect how everyone's tastes change. It's got a lighter malt base, a lower ABV, and that snappy bitterness – a clean juicy malt flavour with hints of tropical fruit and citrus. You can try it out at our venues, good bottle shops and supermarkets across New Zealand.”
Head over to our Renewable Energy Certification page to find out more about what we’re offering businesses in New Zealand
...as well as the geeky bit explaining the ins and outs of how it all works.
*While the energy Garage Project buys won’t necessarily come from the Brooklyn turbine,
NZECS certifies that the electricity they get from the national grid is matched on an annual basis with 100% renewable energy generated from the Brooklyn turbine.