By Lucy Galbraith
Born and bred in Raglan, Gibbs - AKA Pork Chop - is a Harley riding, barrel chasing, beer brewing surf punk. Maybe a bit intimidating to some, we reckon he’s one of the sweetest dudes you’ll meet, and a smart entrepreneur too. As with everything Jake does, he manages to put his own style into it and make it fun.
In the midst of Covid-19, Jake managed to squeeze in a yarn with us about surfing, music and his latest ‘project’, Workshop Brewing.
When you’re not surfing, what do you do?
I’m pretty balls-deep in a brewing project, so that soaks up heaps of my spare time. Between that, I’m squashing in time for my motorbike and going to watch rock and roll shows… life is hectic.
Brewing Project? Workshop Beer has taken over Raglan! How did that all start?
At the start, it was just me and my friend, Matt Williams. We were in Torfino, and found this little brewery with a skate park next to it. You just skate and buy beer, it’s the sickest setup. We were like, “why don’t we do this in Rags?” So we flew home and got some money together. Then we realised we didn’t know what the fuck we were doing, so we brought a couple of other people in. We built the brewery, but as we were getting close to finishing it we realised we were pretty amateur at brewing. We’d heard about this guy Bruno - he’s an absolute weapon – mad crazy scientist. Then we brought in Matty’s older brother, Steven. He’s probably one of the smartest people we know. He understands all the laws and regulations - there’s a lot involved with starting a brewery. Between the four of us, we’ve got a pretty cool dynamic.
I remember the Workshop launch party - held on the ‘stylish and contemporary’ Wahine Moe - it was absolutely packed!
Yeah that was sick. It was Labour Weekend, we took over the boat and drank beers for two days. It was pretty fun, the weather was good for us and heaps of our crew came on. We could only fit 140 on each trip - we probably did 6 trips each day. It was rad.
Did you guys expect it to be so popular?
It took 2 years from start to finish, to get the brewery built and beer into cans. We were so focused on that, that we almost forgot we had to sell it. The launch was the first time people had tried the beer, other than close friends. You’re putting your heart and soul out there, it’s quite a scary thing, and there was quite a bit of talk about it around town leading up to the launch. We’d planned to just slowly start selling beers but every single brew we did would sell out within two weeks. Six thousand litres just gone. The whole project has gotten bigger than we thought it would. I think next summer will be the same. Hopefully, by then we’ll have a store-front, but at the moment it’s only really available at the supermarkets and liquor stores.
...And every cafe, bar, restaurant and fridge in Raglan. In terms of flavour, how does a Workshop beer compare to a Waikato?
Our whole thing was to make three beers. One of the important ones was getting a lager that would be good for my bogan mates. The boys drink Steinlager, Heineken and Waikato so we wanted a beer that wasn’t too crafty so they could hammer that. It seems to be getting a good response from that crowd. Then there’s a big flavour APA for people that are into craft beer, and our Raglan Pale Ale, a lighter beer with a mandarin taste through it. We wanted to put a fresh summery vibe through our Raglan Pale Ale - that’s what a Raglan summer is all about, isn’t it?
I don’t really know how to attack this one, but the punk thing. I know you love it, I’ve seen you at the Yotty, and I know you have a musical background - you used to DJ with Raph (Flowidus) – so how does electronic dance music fit in with punk?
I think listening to punk rock came from hammering surf and skate films in the early 2000’s. All your favourite edits - the Lost clips and all that - were just straight rock and punk. That sorta gets you into it.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater…
Exactly! And later on when Andy bought the Yot club he was into it too, so there was this big resurgence in Raglan. All these cool sorta-underground bands from Aussie - like Miniskirt and that - would come. All the young guys were frothing it too like Oosh and that. There was pretty much a punk rock and roll gig in Rags once a month which was all time. Such a cool little intimate venue for it too. The DJ-ing thing Raph and I got into a little bit coming out of school, it was fresh around that time. We were called ‘Domestic Couple’. We played at Rhythm and Vines one year. We were just young maggots, it was a good way to get free drinks and get out of town but pretty soon I burnt out of that.
You’re Raglan born and bred right?
I was born just up the road from the Hughes family - they’re like a second family to ours. We’ve been through it all together. Craig [Hughes] didn’t fully teach me to surf, but he was pretty involved, coaching me when we were grommets. I think he gave me my first board - I can’t remember who shaped it but it was a piece of shit. A big wide green thing with a swallow tail and a yellow tuna on the bottom. It’d probably be considered a pretty cool board now…
You must have ridden a lot of Hughes sticks (don’t be dirty) though. When did you add your first Hughesy to the quiver?
I had a few of Luke’s hand-me-downs before I outgrew him. I remember one that Craig had shaped. It was a Xanadu with green flames all up it, it was pretty porno. I got that when I was 13 and Craig shaped my first custom when I was 16. I can’t remember what model it was... I’ve had too many beers to remember that!
How many Hughes boards have you had? How many do you currently own?
From childhood to now it’d have to be about fifteen or more. Currently, I’ve got four Hughes boards - a 6’6” Step Up, a 6’3” Drive that’s pretty much snapped, and I’ve got my orange SB19. That’s probably my best board I’ve got off Luke – it’s mental. Oh and a 5’10” Fushter. I think that covers all bases.
But your favourite at the moment is the SB19?
Yeah for sure. It's an all-rounder - it goes good from three to five or six foot. I think I’m 94 kilos at the moment, we managed to fit enough volume to float me but still keep that performance. The tail is really refined and the rails are nice. I don’t want to be paddling around struggling, but I hate boards that are big and beefy through the rails. You can get that volume in there and still keep the performance if you just talk to a good shaper. I think my SB19 is around 32 litres, squished into 6’1”.
Have you got any ideas about future boards?
We’ve been talking about making another sort of paddle-barrelly board that’s got even more volume but still short, so you can paddle like a mad man and still get under the lip. I wouldn’t mind one of his little twin fins he’s just shaped either… like the one that was in front of the shop. That thing is beeeaaaautiful. I need the big boy version of that.
How would you describe your surfing style?
It’s definitely all on the rail. For sure. I’ve got the weight behind me to throw a bit of spray, so that’s it.
And what are you working towards at the moment?
The last few years I’ve been taking trips to Indo - just trying to get bigger barrels really. If there’s anything I’m working on it’s that. Following the likes of Leon (Santorik), Sanga (Sam Willis) and Hughesy and that. Watching what they’re doing on waves over there gets me pretty frothed.
Favourite spot to surf?
At home it’s Indicators, otherwise G-Land.
Last, but not least... I’m not sure if this whole thing is just Luke trying to get something out of you, but he sent me photographic evidence of what looks like you doing possibly the worst drop-in in history on one of your best mates. What the hell were you thinking?
Hahaha. That was horrific. That was in the Mentawais two to three years ago, a spot called E-Bay. I honestly didn’t see him. I promise! He paddled back out and looked at me and gave me the worst stink eye. I remember thinking “what the fuck is your problem?” It was potentially the best wave of the trip and I just got this shitty little super lame barrel on the end of it. In the next day or so he perforated his eardrum so it probably would have been the wave of his trip!
Has he tried to get you back?
Oh, it’s coming, I’m sure. One day we’ll go on another boat trip and he’ll get me back… and with photo evidence, there’s not much I can do about that.