She might be miles away from her home town of Denver, Colorado, but Wellington newcomer Kalen Acquisto has plenty of familiar things around her. There’s the beer for starters. “Craft beer is huge in Colorado and I’m a big fan. So, it’s really my dream to live in Wellington, New Zealand’s home of craft beer.”
And there’s the dogs. Kalen, a former dog owner, is the business manager for a new premium dog biscuit made by New Zealand’s leading craft brewery, Garage Project, from its base in Wellington’s Aro Valley. The biscuits – called Mashbone Brewery Bites – are Garage Project’s latest off-shoot business, turning grain mash into a yummy dog treat. “It’s a super-cool job. For the most part, I get to hang out with a lot of cute dogs and talk about a world-class brewery doing forward-thinking stuff.”
5 Questions with Kalen
– as told to JACQUI GIBSON
Where did you last go on holiday?
I’m just back from a surf trip in Raglan – an incredible small, coastal surf town in New Zealand’s North Island. Last time I holidayed out of New Zealand, I visited Colorado for my brother’s graduation and a few weddings. Of course, I made a special trip to Odell’s and New Belgium for some of my favourite American Amber Ales.
When did you decide to live in New Zealand?
Ever since seeing the movie Whale Rider I knew I wanted to live here. I was blown away by the beauty of the country. I love the outlook of the people – there’s a work, life balance you don’t always see at home – and I thrive in the outdoors. The opportunity came up after finishing college, so I decided, right, that’s it, I’m off!
How did you land a job with Garage Project?
I’d actually applied for a role with Enspiral – an awesome social enterprise company in the heart of Wellington. When they found out I loved beer they said you’ve got to go for the Mashbone role at Garage Project – so I did. And here I am. To be honest, it’s the perfect role. The brewery is like a family. And they’re really into making great beer, as well as looking at ways to reduce waste. Sustainability is at the forefront of their thinking, which is how Mashbone came about. It’s a dog treat made from the by-product of the brewing process.
Where in Wellington do you go to eat and drink?
There’s a lot to eat and drink in this town. But my favorite place for coffee would have to be Milk Crate on Ghuznee Street – though I also love Midnight Espresso and Memphis Belle does have the best cheese scone! For best brunch, I’d definitely say the mussels at Maranui Cafe in Lyall Bay. But my ultimate pick for food and drink has to be Aro Valley, home of Garage Project’s cool taproom, cellar door and shop.
Which one beer should we order off the Garage Project menu?
Aw, that’s a tough one. How about my top three? You should definitely try Party and Bullshit (that’s the East Coast Anthem IPA), but Hapi Daze (the Pacific pale ale) and White Mischief (the salted white peach sour) are really good summer brews too (it’s summer down here, don’t forget!).