A new beer is not usually enough to justify a story but when you’re talking powerhouse brand names Nadia Lim and Garage Project, a beer called Swifty might be in a different league.

I was wondering only recently when New Zealand might see a celebrity-driven beer that grabbed the imagination of the wider drinking public: the answer could be Swifty, a 4.2% malt-driven beer designed for a mainstream audience.

Swifty is a collab between Garage Project and Royalburn Station, owned by Lim and her husband Carlos Bagrie.

Fifth-generation farmer Bagrie says Swifty will initially be a keg-only release and will be poured at selected bars and restaurants from Friday, December 1, with a focus on the lower South Island. It is the latest product from the ethical and regenerative Arrowtown farm, co-owned by Bagrie and Lim, the former MasterChef NZ winner, My Food Bag Founder, and TV personality. 

“Royalburn Station has been growing barley for more than 100 years – it was one of the first farms to supply the Speight’s beer factory,” Bagrie said. “We’re still producing 300 tonnes of premium quality barley each year so it made sense for us to develop our own beer brand, in collaboration with Garage Project.”

Last year Bagrie made a beer with Altitude in Queenstown as a way of trialling the brewing quality of the barley.

Garage Project co-owner Jos Ruffell says: “It’s been fantastic collaborating with Carlos and the whole Royalburn team. Their progressive approach to farming and producing the highest-quality ingredients is a brewer’s dream. With such incredible malt to brew with, we’ve really tried to let the quality ingredients shine. Swifty is a classic, refreshing beer brewed to be enjoyed by everyone.”

Royalburn Station, which recently won a NZ Food Award for its Royalburn Fine Lamb, is a 485-hectare alpine station is a large-scale farm-to-plate operation, producing everything from pasture-raised eggs to vegetables, honey, oils, seeds, grains and wool.

One of the drivers behind the collaboration was Oli Boyes, Royalburn Station’s business development manager. He was previously a shareholder and brewer at Ground Up in Wanaka. Given his background the idea of the farm producing its own beer was quickly on the table.


Boyes, knowing how costly it would be to invest in a physical brewery, suggested they contract brew which led to discussions with Ruffell about using bStudio, where Garage Project’s core range beers are made.

That conversation soon became one about collaboration and the creation of a “mainstream” beer that celebrated the malt. Boyes said the experimental nature of the collab was liberating for all parties.

“We’re going down the mainstream route — we want to bring a beer to market at a reasonable price and neither of us are hanging our hats on this, which is quite liberating, as for both of us it’s not our only business. For Royalburn that’s beef and lamb and for Garage Project they have the rest of their beer production.

“It’s a bit of fun between one of New Zealand’s most progressive farms and one of New Zealand’s best breweries. We’re super-excited to be doing this with Garage Project.”

Fun, yes, but there’s no denying the selling power of the Nadia Lim and Garage Project brands, and Swifty could swiftly become that rarest of things in New Zealand — a craft beer that crosses to the mainstream.

Main Photo:  Carlos Bagrie, Pete Gillespie, Oli Boyes, Nadia Lim & Jos Ruffell