Picture this: It’s a Tuesday night, I’ve just walked in the door after a big day in the office, I kick back on the sofa, and I’m casually scrolling through my Instagram feed. BAM! What do I see? A new brewery on the horizon! Given that lately I’m accustomed to seeing posts about breweries shutting up shop, this caught my attention. Without hesitation, I set aside my hazy IPA to delve into the details.

Turns out, this hidden gem goes by the name Bean Bag Brewery, and it’s tucked away in the industrial depths of South Auckland. A few quick DMs later and I’ve got the golden ticket to check out the brewery and to meet Namit Maharaj, the mastermind behind the brews, a dude who has been brewing as a hobby for a solid for two or three years.

Namit’s journey started in his barn, brewing beers throughout lockdown where he eventually had too much beer for him and his friends to drink. So, he sold a few kegs to his local liquor store, Whitford Merchants, where they held tasting sessions that turned out to be a hit. This was when Namit realized that he was on to a good thing. After finding out he couldn’t get enough power to his barn to operate a fully-fledged brewery, he had to bite the bullet and upgrade his operation to an industrial unit, and this is how Bean Bag Brewing has come to be!    

The name Bean Bag has an uncanny origin. Lockdown boredom led Namit and a group of mates to a Netflix show called Good Boys, featuring a crew of adventurous kids known as the Bean Bag Boys. Namit and his mates loved this film, all except for one mate who thought the movie was ridiculously stupid. So, to wind him up, they changed the name of their group chat to the Bean Bag Boys which led to this disgruntled mate leaving the group chat. In the end, what started as a playful tease resulted in the creation of a unique brewery name.   

My visit to Bean Bag was perfectly timed, not only was it a Friday afternoon, it was also their first day ever canning beers. The air was thick with the sweet aroma of fresh beer, a tangible result of Namit’s hard graft. I was lucky enough to sample their 5.6% ABV IPA during my visit, and it was one of the most approachable IPAs I’ve tried in a minute!

bean bag
Namit Maharaj and Lani Fogelberg

I asked Namit about starting a brewery when others are going belly-up. His response? “When is the right time to start a brewery?”

With others hitting roadblocks, Namit sees every moment as a chance, believing there’s never a perfect or totally rubbish time for new business ventures. There are also a lot of lessons to be had from these other breweries, which Namit has been taking on board in terms of what to look out for and what not to do.

Despite Bean Bag being a fully-fledged brewing operation, brewing is still Namit’s side hustle. He’s juggling responsibilities in refrigeration and consulting, and brewing beer is still his passion project that perhaps one day will become his full-time gig.

Bean Bag Brewery’s vision is simple – brew beers for the people, not the beer snobs. Namit dreams big, with plans to eventually take his brews global. Currently pumping out 800L per week, with 2000L on the horizon, Namit’s got his brewing buddy and a business partner to keep the operation in check, and his business partner, Lani Fogelberg, has the difficult job of reining in Namit’s wild ideas.

In Namit’s words, the whole thing is a bit of a laugh – a laid-back approach to serious craft. Bean Bag Brewery is one to put on your beer radar, mixing passion, a touch of humor, and some bloody delicious beer that will be making its way to taps and beer fridges this summer!

So, here’s to unexpected Insta finds and people making their craft brewing dreams a reality.