It was an unassuming Saturday afternoon in Auckland, I was enjoying a few cold beverages down at the Urbanaut taproom in Kingsland whilst in the thick of a friend’s bachelor party and just before I went in for my second Toasted Marshmallow Hazy IPA, I saw two tall curly-haired gentlemen walking towards me and upon further inspection, I noticed it was Ian and Craig Hebblethwaite, the father-son duo behind Black Sand’s Brewing, the rapidly growing West Auckland brewery.

After a few handshakes and hugs, Craig asked me to join them for a chat. So, after finally getting my second pint of Toasted Marshmallow, I sat down with the duo in the sunniest corner of the bar and that’s when Craig asked me if I wanted to collaborate on my very own hazy with Black Sands and before I could even think, the liquid courage pumping through my veins gave me the confidence to reply immediately with a “f**ck yea!”

Craig’s and Ian’s faces lit up when they heard that I was interested in a collaboration then Craig asked me, “So Josh, what does a Hazzy Hunter hazy taste like? I told Craig and Ian about my obsession with oat cream hazy IPAs and without any hesitation we all agreed to brew the creamiest hazy imaginable! Using our own blood, sweat and oats.

hazzy hunter x black sands
Craig Hebblethwaite & Hazzy Hunter

The next three months consisted of several exchanges of Instagram DMs until eventually we agreed on a recipe and most importantly a brew day.

April finally rolled around and with only a few days’ notice I was told brew day was coming up later in the week, so I booked my leave, threw on my oldest white t-shirt, and headed west with my photographer Ravi, ready to get our hands dirty and make the haziest beer ever brewed in west Auckland.

We all huddled around the brewery smoko room to come up with a game plan for the brew, combining my creative vision with Black Sands’ extensive brewing knowledge and after several hours of sniffing hops, shoveling grain, and coating ourselves in lactose, we finally had a very opaque concoction ready to ferment.

Fast forward a month and we had finalised the tap badge design after way too many iterations and we also locked in the location for our launch party, which was at the only logical place, 16TUN, a bar that has a special place in my heart and liver and the absolute best place for pints in the city.

At 2pm on the dot I arrived at 16TUN for the launch party, to my surprise, people were already there sipping on the Hazzy Hunter Oat Cream Hazy IPA, including the team from Black Sands, and after signing a few autographs and some handshakes I pulled up to the bar and ordered my first ever pint of Hazzy Hunter. After thoroughly inspecting the haziness of the beer I went in for my first sip and after swirling the beer around in my mouth, my palate was engulfed by the opaque liquid which was giving me notes of passionfruit ice cream, Golden Circle pineapple, Golden Pash soft drink, orange sorbet and a dollop of mandarin purée — and with tasting notes like those, I’m not surprised we ran the keg dry within 5 hours!

hazzy hunter x black sands

Since the launch we have been slinging kegs of Hazzy Hunter Auckland-wide (one even made its way to Hamilton!) and I would like to thank everyone who has parted ways with their hard-earned cash and brought a pint or six of our beer. Without you guys, this collaboration would not have been the success it has been! And for those who haven’t had a chance to try it, you are in luck! Due to the overwhelming demand, we have decided to get back on the tools and brew one last batch is in 440ml cans, so keep your eyes peeled for the return of the best damn oat cream hazy this side of the Milky Way!