Dirty Water with Matt Sloan
In nutshell, what is Dirty Water?
Dirty Water is a brewed alcoholic seltzer* from Garage Project. It was rated 'the best blind tasting one' (seltzer/premix) by the Spinoff earlier in the year.
We're calling it A - Garage Project - Project and the reason for this is two-fold;
1 - We wanted to create a new "endorsed brand", so we can develop a different tone of voice and really open up to a much wider audience than the 'craft' beer consumer. Seltzer drinkers can absolutely range in age. American statistics show the average drinker is 33 with a 50/50 male/female gender split. We know in NZ, our seltzer will step into the beer world, but it can most definitely play in the RTD/premix world.
2 - We still wanted GP to be a prominent component, leveraging the brewing credibility GP has - as this is a darn good tasting brewed seltzer at the end of the day. We wanted to open up to GP followers first - and to then expand and really take on what we're terming "clean RTDs'" with Dirty Water.
*Seltzer is a German word referring to sparkling water. 'Seltzer' and 'hard seltzer' (hard meaning alcoholic) have been commonly used in America now for years. As this new hard seltzer wave has swept over to AU/ NZ, it's been picked up to define alcoholic sparkling waters. How the alcohol gets made defines the type of seltzer it is. Dirty Water is a brewed alcoholic seltzer - in simple terms, we brew a beer using sorghum (a gluten free grain), we filter the beer so much that it loses it's typical flavour, character and colour so we are left with a concentrated alcoholic base. We then add water, our real fruit flavouring, and carbonate it prior to packaging. Each Dirty Water can is gluten free, has less than 90 Calories and less than 1g of sugar!
Where did the name "Dirty Water" come from?
The name Dirty Water has three parts to it;
1 - Dirty water is a nod to a little seltzer snobbery in the beer world. (We're sure we first heard it pitched in a phrase in the US, describing seltzers as just dirty waters - but can't be sure). We believe seltzer's are here to stay and we wanted to try something new (and prove the haters wrong).
2 - Dirty water is also a little rhetorical.. there's a little dig in there - are these other "clean RTDs" really that good? Have you looked at the alcohol and nutritional claims (where do these spirit bases come from? how much sugar is considered 'low' sugar?).
3 - "Drink Dirty today, for a cleaner tomorrow" - behind it all Dirty Water supports clean water initiatives. We're donating 10% of profits back to Million Metres Streams Projects, who are on a mission to restore 1 million metres of waterways across NZ. (We've also just recently held a Dirty Water friends & family planting day out at the Wainuiomata River Restoration Project). It doesn't stop with Million Metres either, we're always looking to partner with other ongoing clean water projects like we did earlier in the year with the Avon river clean up in Christchurch.
As an off-shoot of Garage Project, has Dirty Water always been in the pipeline or has it sprouted spontaneously?
Garage Project is now rather well known for tackling new challenges and 'trying something new'. The now 10-year-old mission has been to 'change beer forever & challenge the notions of what beer can be.' This expanded to really mean 'change hard drinks forever' when we launched an urban natural wine brand 4 years ago called Garage Project Crushed. The idea for Dirty Water started back in 2018, but we really got stuck into the project early 2020. It's a natural fit within Garage Project's mission and we're excited to see where it can go!
It's awesome to see you're collaborating with Million Metres, replanting the banks of waterways here in NZ. Can you tell us a little more about that and how that partnership has come to be?
Clean water is such an essential element for all breweries in New Zealand. Garage Project has volunteered for many years and provided monetary donations in support of waterway restoration projects with Million Metres. The GP family have donated time to plant in the Wainuiomata River Restoration Project at Baring Head for the last 4 years. A continued partnership with Million Metres through Dirty Water was a natural decision for us. We stand by the fact the health of our waterways affects all New Zealanders, so we all need to be part of the solution. The 'Million Metres Streams Project' is an initiative of the NZ Sustainable Business Network.
How have you found the reception to be so far, do you think most New Zealanders are on board when it comes to environmentally conscious products?
We're thrilled with how Dirty Water has been picked up in a new market in New Zealand and how people are genuinely loving the taste. It's always great to get feedback from people who may have tried other seltzers, and hear "wow this actually tastes amazing." There is a little challenge however, around seltzer being perceived as a refreshing summer drink. We launched at the end of last summer, so the majority of our time in the market now has been through Autumn/ Winter. We're very excited to see where this can go as the weather starts to warm up again.
I believe Kiwis will always look for the 'good' in a new brand or company, especially if it plays into their core business strategy or marketing. A key part with connecting to your customers is remaining honest about what you're doing and what you're looking to achieve. Garage Project has a dedicated team member who works on Environmental Projects and Sustainability. It's to their credit that Garage Project is Zero Carbon brewery (a huge achievement for us) - with many other initiatives at play and in the works.
Looking forward, where do you see Dirty Water going in the future?
In June we launched Dirty Water in Australia, and a very small portion also made its way to our distributor in Singapore. Our goal is to continue to build brand awareness in NZ (very excited for this summer) and ramp up our export to Australia. Through this process we want to continue to grow support for local clean water initiatives and are always on the lookout for projects we can get involved in. If you have any suggestions, please do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!