Meet | Michael Julian, The Island

With a background in running bars, Michael Julian floated the idea of one day starting up his own brewery, producing beer himself.

After a whirlwind 12 months of research, training, and mentoring from industry stalwart, Malcolm Brier, Julian eventually established The Island, a new brewhouse in Papamoa.

In a way, this is nostalgic for Julian, who used to help his dad install milking plans in the dairy industry as a teenager, with many of those skills transitioning into what he does today.

Julian likes to keep everything accessible and comfortable to the local community by offering true-to-style staples throughout his range. He said that the relaxed beach vibes of the area had inspired him to strive to create a friendly oasis for people to escape their daily hustle.

“We like to help out local groups and create a hub for the community, be it beach clean-ups, surfboard swap meets, through to sponsorships or mentoring, we value our patrons, and they are the most important aspect of our business. Being able to make tasty beer for them is a privilege,” said Julian.

Sustainability is one of the most important practices of The Island, with Julian adding that the brewery uses as many local products as possible. In the products, New Zealand-made yeast, hops and malts are used, and recycled cardboard and pallet wrap is used when packaging. The yeast packaging, grain bags, and chemical drums are all reused, being refilled by suppliers. Easily recyclable cans are used when manufacturing and a keg and tap service for local businesses is cutting out single-use packaging entirely.

“We're pretty analytical with our processes and are always looking out to improve efficiencies, be it water recovery, electricity and gas reduction or through to supply procurement, the environment is forefront in our decision making. I think we all are responsible for doing all we can to leave the world in a better shape for future generations. I want my kids to grow up like I did, appreciating our environment's most pristine condition.”

The Island is currently in the process of replacing CO2 usage where possible with Nitrogen, and exploring different ways to recapture technology.

Julian believes that great beer comes from great ingredients, a well-balanced approach to recipe design, and a dedicated staff who take the utmost care when brewing. 

The most rewarding part of Julian’s job is being able to see people enjoying his beer. He added that it’s great to be able to get out in the community by running special events and partnering with local concerts, or even the creative process of producing the beer, which makes for a rewarding career.

Being acknowledged by industry peers has also been a highlight for Julian, who is constantly on the search to expand his team and develop his product.

Drinking closest to the brewery and supporting the community is more important to the local economy, according to Julian, who said that fresh is best, and you can’t get fresher in the neighbourhood.