What started out as a casual hobby as a teenager has flourished into a thriving business for beer brewers Rob and Caroline Harrell.
The Kerikeri couple opened PhatHouse Brewing Company in Haruharu, in the Bay of Islands, in 2017 and have been happily serving refreshing brews ever since - and now they are the latest recipients of Top Energy's $30,000 Business Fund.
The pair met while studying geology at Portsmouth University in England, and led to a long career working in the field, in Britain and New Zealand.
They finally settled in Kerikeri in 1999 after stints in New Plymouth, Lyttelton and Waihi, and in 2016 the opportunity to buy a commercial brewery was too good to refuse.
PhatHouse Brewing Company is the only brewery of its kind in Northland, with the on-site brewery viewable from the bar.
Rob said the brewery had become more than just a place to get a cold ale and rather somewhere to bring the community together.
"We've had really good support and feedback from locals since opening," he said.
"This for us is more than just about drinking a beer, it's a place where people can meet up and have a chance to socialise. We've had customers tell us they've met their neighbours here for the first time and actually chatted with them instead of just the usual wave at home, which is really cool."
PhatHouse now distributes more than 12 beers locally to cafes, bars, restaurants and retailers, has an online shop and is an approved supplier to Foodstuffs NZ.
Not ones to rest on their keg, the couple extended the brewery this year by installing a pizza oven and the Brewery Bar and Taproom.
If that wasn't enough, the Harrells recently achieved yet another milestone, taking out one of this year's Top Energy Business Development Fund grants worth a cool $30,000.
The couple were delighted with the win and planned to use the money to build on their success by introducing the PhatHouse Brewery Tour.
"This money will help finish the back part of the brewery, which allows for public access in order for us to be able to run the brewery tours," Rob said.
"We want to create an experience where people can appreciate the whole process of beer making and to understand a bit more about the history.
"It will be a sensory experience of tasting grains, smelling hops and being shown the beer-making process combined with storytelling and product sampling. All going well, we should be up and running by the summer season."
Top Energy launched its Business Development Fund in 2014, and is designed to encourage and promote economic growth in the Far North.
Grants of up to $30,000 are awarded twice a year for local business ideas or initiatives that have the potential to grow or diversify the Far North economy.
The money is awarded either in full to a single standout idea, or in smaller amounts to several initiatives, depending on the number, quality and merit of the applications received.
Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw said the company was focused on supporting business initiatives that economically benefited the local communities businesses are in.