Boogie Van Brewing: Waiheke Island’s Local Craft Brewery
As many of you know, I have been living on Waiheke Island for about a year and a half. Here on the island, the presence of vineyards and love of wine permeates the air. On New Zealand’s “island of wine,” sometimes I’m just looking for a relaxing environment and good craft beer—no fine dining or dress codes, just a solid, flavorful pint. Last week I was fortunate enough to meet up with Rick Paladino, one half of the beer-loving duo at Boogie Van Brewing. I visited the brewery to chat about his life, the business, and, of course, drink some beer!
Rick Paladino and Rochelle Wordsworth are the two brains and four hands behind Boogie Van Brewing. The couple met in San Francisco working at the same tech company. After over a decade, they moved to New Zealand, Rochelle’s home. Waiheke Island seemed like the perfect paradise outside of Auckland to settle down.
A mutual love of beer has always been alive in their relationship. The couple usually visits different breweries while traveling or wherever they have been living.
Rick searched for a career that he felt passionate about. Originally, the two had ideas for opening a pub. Within two weeks of moving to Waiheke Island, a local brewery they stumbled upon went up for sale. The opportunity felt too serendipitous to pass up and Rick purchased Relativity Brewing.
The Birth of Boogie Van
Rick and Rochelle fully took over Relativity in April 2016. Relativity was already known among the local circles. Since it wasn’t too established at this point, they were able to mold the brewery to fit their vision, making the transition to Boogie Van easy. The community has responded nicely to the new spot, I think, due to its fresh contrast with so many of Waiheke’s businesses.
Due to competition size for craft beer in the United States, Rick didn’t see a viable way to break into the market there. Before Boogie Van, he dabbled in home-brewing, but did not have any professional experience. Since the craft beer movement is relatively new in New Zealand, the opportunity to start a brewery and a brand on Waiheke Island seemed like the right fit. Waiheke Island—and New Zealand as a whole—is incredibly appreciative of hand crafts. From clothing to artwork to boutique vineyards and family made honey, the island welcomes individuals seeking to create something thoughtful and well-made.
Boogie Van is refreshingly normal, from Rick’s laidback personality to the simple yet retro interior. Not many people happen upon this place since it’s off-the-beaten-path. So compared to many of Waiheke’s overpopulated businesses during the high season, Boogie Van maintains a relaxed atmosphere even with tour groups on the weekends. (I, myself, had not discovered Boogie Van until after a year of living on the island.)
The name Boogie Van stirs up images of USA west coast culture. It’s associated with retro vibes of the 1970’s and the music Rick listens to and plays constantly in the brewery. Many of the beers are named after different rock and old school metal bands and song titles, bringing the theme together cohesively.
Upon entering the brewery, you will find a bar top in front of a chalkboard listing today’s brews, six taps, and a couple of stools. A television plays retro music videos and one of the walls is covered with American brewery stickers. Currently on tap, Rick offers a Session Ale, American Pale Ale, Extra Special Bitter, Extra Pale Ale, IPA, and an Oat Porter.
Consistency is key to maintaining a successful business for Rick and Rochelle. They put in long hours and a lot of effort to be present for their customers at the same time every week. The secret to gathering a solid foundation of repeat customers is through consistent business hours. Clearly, it has paid off because the brewery had a great summer this year. Four large group tours per weekend visited the brewery each week in addition to daily visits by locals, wandering tourists, and Waiheke weekenders.
As someone who lives on the island, I appreciate this work ethic as many businesses can be inconsistent with their stated opening hours.
Where It’s Going
When asked if he’ll keep the business on Waiheke as it continues to grow, Rick said that the island is still a “bit of the unknown.” The important factors to consider when maintaining a business here year-round include the off-season customer flow, as life slows down quite a bit in the winter time, and the brewery’s location, which not exactly on the tourist track (or even the local food and drink streets).
You cannot currently find Boogie Van beer in any Waiheke Island or Auckland bars, but they are looking to get involved with the pubs in town. One of the main goals is not merely to be a Waiheke brewery, but recognized as a full-on New Zealand brewery. Currently, you can find their beer on tap in Currach Irish Pub on Great Barrier Island.
At the moment, the brewery serves beer samples and sells off-license bottles. In the future, we may see the construction of a business serving proper pints and bites. *Fingers crossed*
I spent a few hours at the brewery with Rick. We chatted about his current beer selection (my favorites are the Gear Jammer XPA and the Best Coast APA). He showed us where the magic happens while explaining the basic processes around creating the elixir of life. Currently, he uses New Zealand, American, and English hops, but he hopes to use Australian in the future. We got to smell the hops and taste the different barley malts he uses in his recipes.
As someone living on the island who often craves good quality beer, interesting conversation, and a laid-back spot, Boogie Van is one of my favorite Waiheke businesses. Obviously, I took a bottle of Gear Jammer home to keep the fun going.
A big thanks to Rick for having me in for an interview and a casual chat. My love for local businesses putting out well-made products (especially beer) has me on the hunt for the best unknown spots to add to any travel guide.
29B Tahi Road, Ostend, Waiheke Island
+64 27 519 9737
Hours: Fri 2-5pm, Sat & Sun 12-5pm
Do you want to see more posts like this? Comment below! Would you like to expose your brand on Read To Travel? Contact me at email@example.com