Craft beer brewery Garage Project is tapping into the growing demand for high-quality brews with plans to open a "cellar door" in Auckland.
Co-founder Jos Ruffell said the Wellington brewery would open the doors at 357 New North Road in the Auckland suburb of Kingsland on Thursday next week, with launch events and celebrations through Friday and Saturday.
"It will be a cellar door - a re-imagined bottle shop dedicated to all things Garage Project," Ruffell said.
"We will have a line up of 12 ever-changing GP beers on tap, available for flagons fills and tasting. We will also have a crowler - a contraption which allows us to fill 1L cans from the taps and seal them on the spot. We will have cans, bottles and merchandise for take out."
The site will be able to sell 70ml tasters to drink and will have a small food offering, such as cheeses, house pickles and cured meats.
"Aside from the beer, we have offices upstairs - we have had a few staff working from Auckland for a while, so this address is set to become Garage Project's Auckland HQ."
Data on the industry from Statistics New Zealand last month showed the total volume of beer available for consumption dropped by 1.2 per cent in the 2017 calendar year, but beer with an alcohol content above 5 per cent, incorporating most craft brews, increased by 33.6 per cent.
"The volume of beer above 5 per cent alcohol rose for the fourth year in a row in 2017," said international statistics manager Tehseen Islam.
"The volume of high-strength beer available is now over twice the 2013 volume, and three times the 2011 volume, in part reflecting the rising popularity of craft beers."
Ruffell last month said the rise in craft was a shift away from quantity, and a result of changing tastes of consumers.
"We're seeing people wanting to try new beers but maybe not chasing quantity as they previously might have, so instead of buying a dozen or a big box of beer, they're going for smaller amounts of variety and interesting beers they can share with friends," he said.
"Many of those might be much higher or much lower in alcohol but are more about the flavour. So beer can be sweet or sour or tart or dry - there's a huge variety and people are appreciating that a lot more now."
Ruffell said although total consumption was down slightly, the craft category was still growing significantly.
The craft market was also more accessible he said, with a premium bottle of beer costing about $12 to $15 compared with a premium bottle of wine that would cost a lot more.
Consumers were also looking to try a range of new flavours Ruffell said, creating a push for new products.
Ruffell today said the market was still growing "although we expect to see it ease off the significant levels we have all seen over the last few years, and mirror the slow down that is happening in America".
Sixty to 100 per cent year-on-year growth had been a remarkable achievement for the industry "and we are starting to see a maturing phase begin".
Garage Project is planning an opening party, including food trucks, brewers onsite for people to talk and "some particularly unusual beers on tap".
The store will have 12 taps of revolving beers and open Sunday to Thursday from midday to 8pm, and 10am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday.
Apart from free mini tasters off the taps and being able to buy a paddle of six beers, customers can bring their own vessels or fill 1.25 or 2lt pet bottles, 1lt glass riggers or 1lt 'crowlers' (cans filled and seamed on the spot).
There will be a 4m chilled retail cabinet of cans, bottles, 6 packs and slabs, and merchandise including t shirts, posters and glassware.
Garage Project has a cellar door at its original brewery location in Aro Valley, and a taproom close by.
"This will be the second dedicated cellar door for Garage Project, and really is in response to an overwhelming demand we're seeing from our Auckland fans," Ruffell said.
"We are very much open to the idea of more locations and will look at them in terms of response from our customers and where we can bring a new experience to our drinkers. Melbourne would be high on the list for future sites."