Hawke's Bay hemp oil features in Garage Project's latest beer Bhang Thandai. Inspired by a traditional Indian drink spiked with edible cannabis, the Garage Project version uses Kanapu Hemp Seed Oil.

It's milk stout, meaning lactose is added for sweetness, a sweetness that remains because yeast cannot convert the lactose into alcohol. But at 7.7 per cent alcohol it is no lolly water. Flavour is plentiful with almonds, watermelon seeds, green cardamom, saffron and black pepper included in the mix.

Tasting notes describe it as having "a rich spice and nut character that makes it a truly decadent brew".

Kanapu Hemp Seed Oil is grown in Otane and Kanapu director Isaac Beach said all samples sent to chefs resulted in an order.


"It is a premium product well placed to be ahead of the curve once hemp oil becomes more popular in New Zealand," he said.

Garage Project, based in Wellington, already has strong Hawke's Bay ties. It is a foundation customer of B Studio's contract brewery, a joint venture of Hawke's Bay and Gisborne contract winemakers making the switch from grape to grain. They have assembled 46 12m containers of German brewing equipment at the landmark National Tobacco Company Building in Ahuriri.

Garage Project was approached for advice by Links Winery director and B Studio co-founder Simon Gilbertson several years ago when he was planning the project.

Not only did Garage Project give the advice, it became B Studio's cornerstone customer as Garage Project struggles to quench thirst for its beers.

Garage Project director Pete Gillespie said brewers would periodically travel from its Wellington base to check brews "but I am very confident it will be excellent".

Fellow director Jos Ruffell said the level of precision and attention to detail in the Ahuriri brewery was "remarkable".

"For the industry as a whole this is going to be a game-changer - the strength of the New Zealand industry as a whole will be lifted by this facility," he said.

"You have the highest-quality equipment going into the B Studio facility, a quality that hasn't been seen before in the independent craft-brewing industry in New Zealand.

"It is bringing us to a level seen in the top-level breweries in America and Europe."

B Studio is a joint venture between Links Riverlands Marlborough and Gisborne contract wine maker GisVin, which was established in 2001 by four growers.

Links and GisVin are partners in a 13,000-tonne Marlborough contract winery.