My story starts in 2008 when I tried my first craft beer Tuatara Heffe, it transformed my belief that all beers tasted the same and from then on in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to be part of the industry in some shape or another.
In 2015 I chucked in my job in HR and left Perth for Tauranga, where I grew up. This was the perfect opportunity to dip my toes into the hobby of home brewing. I caught the bug almost instantly, even though the brown ale I brewed with my flatmate tasted like paint thinner. My second beer was a wheat beer and though it tasted a lot better, I had a few issues with exploding bottles. From there my home brewing was a whirlwind and I quickly invested in a keg system and built my own all grain system. Shit was getting real and the equipment was taking up a full room of me and my girlfriends flat.
In late 2017, we bought a house together. I had briefly been involved with another local brewery but that had come to an end. With the purchase of the new house, I saw an oppurtunity to increase my home brew capacity and start brewing on a semi professional level. We had no garage in the new house, but we did have a small 10m2 shed in the back yard which needed to be moved. We did all the prep work ourselves and poured the concrete. With that, the name Slab Brewing was born.
I had been slowly piecing together a small 250L brewery with new equipment from China. As with most things in my life, I lost a little control and bought WAAAAY too much equipment for our tiny little shed under the deck. I had to scramble to find a space that would work. I found the little 40m2 lockup we are in now and had to do some major renovations. Lucky our landlord is relaxed as we have cut some pretty big holes in his property.
I have always had a thing for simple and minimal design and this philosophy carries all the way through the brewery. I try to create simple Beers that have big flavours but are easy to drink. We put the style of the beer first and foremost on our cans so you know what you are getting when you are in the liquor store or at the pub. Finally, we only sell our beer locally in Tauranga and the surrounding areas so you know , it’s fresh, you’re supporting the local community, and you know where I am if there are any issues.
I started brewing in 2005, when at Uni in Auckland. My flatmates and I started brewing with a plastic bucket and a $10 brewkit from the supermarket and put the beer into 2.25L coke bottles. It was always very popular at our parties but that was probably because it was free, not because it was any good.
We moved to the UK in 2011 where I gained an appreciation for beers other than Heineken and Lion Red. The craft beer scene was in full swing over there with so many different styles to sample and enjoy. This got me thinking about brewing better beer and when we moved back from the UK it was time to get back into brewing.
In 2014 we moved down to Tauranga to take over the family business and start a family. I started playing around with extract brewing and partial mash brews but it wasn’t until my Dad bought a grainfather that the beer really started to improve. I even received the comment “this beer is actually drinkable” from the second brew through the grainfather.
In early 2015, Zach came round one night to talk to me about homebrew, as he wanted to get into brewing. After a few samples, he was hooked and set off to build himself a brewing system. From there it was a bit of an arms race between us; Zach bought a keg fridge, I bought a keg fridge. I bought a grainfather, Zach bought a grainfather. Then Zach one upped me by starting a brewery. I couldn’t compete with that so when Zach asked if I wanted to join him, well, there was no way I was going to say no. Timing wasn’t ideal, with our second son only a few weeks old, but a very understanding and supportive wife gave me the go ahead “we’ll make it work”.