Co-owner & Head of Brewing at Good George, and Daniel McGregor, Good George’s Brand Manager, discuss business, beer styles and food matches, and tips for brewers at home.
Good George story
If we told you that Good George was the best thing to come out of Hamilton, you’d probably think for a minute then make a joke about how we don’t have much competition. That’s okay – we can handle it as we don’t take life too seriously although we are serious about brewing.
Good George came to life after a bunch of friends got together and decided, after years in hospitality and brewing, it was time to create their own craft beer brand. Their belief was that beer can be so much better and more rewarding. It shouldn’t be bland, full of chemicals, mass produced and boring. Nor should it be hard, pretentious or scary. Exploring and drinking beer should be enjoyable, simple and really rewarding.
The small problem was they had no idea how to brew beer. Not put off lightly, they decided to open Hamilton’s first independent pub, dedicated to craft beer from New Zealand brewers. The idea gathered momentum in 2011 when a site in the industrial heart of Frankton was discovered. It was the perfect mix of location, character and potential. The former St George’s Church was in need of much love and attention; however it provided an awesome space and backdrop for the creation of a Dining Hall and Brewpub, which would eventually expand into the future brewery. Most importantly, it helped give Good George its brand name.
Impressed with the set-up and focus on craft beer, good customer and international Beer Judge Brian Watson, asked if he could brew beer for them, and the brewery was born. The brewery equipment is fully open to the bar and dining areas and showcased to the garden bar through huge windows. The idea was to demystify the brewing process – to educate and share the love of beer to all who come to visit the bar and dining hall.
A few years on and the Brewery has expanded outdoors from the original premise – with 14 new tanks and 81,500L of capacity being added. All bottling, canning and packaging is done on site as well. Brewery tours are available, and the Dining Hall serves brunch, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. There are now a number of Good George venues around the countryside, a core range of award-winning beers and ciders, plus seasonal brews.
Popular beer varieties and food-matching
IPA (India Pale Ale) is a hoppier version of a pale ale. Its name is derived from a time when hops were used in the beer to preserve it for exporting to British troops in India. These days it’s the most popular craft beer style because it packs a lot of flavour and bitterness. It’s a perfect match to anything with strong flavours or if you’re adding spice to a dish – think wild boar or spicy seafood.
Pilsner is a crisp refreshing beer style, similar to a lager – picture the perfect beer for quenching your thirst after mowing the lawns on a hot summer’s day. Pilsner as a style is defined by the type of malt used in the brew. Good George’s version merges the Czech malt traditionally used with some Kiwi additions to create a ‘Geographically confused’ version of the beer style. Lighter on flavour but very refreshing, this one’s a perfect match for fresh caught fish or shellfish.
East Coast IPA is an emerging but very popular adaptation of the standard IPA style. An East Coast IPA is different because it is unfiltered, meaning that instead of filtering and removing all the hop particles to make the beer clear and bright, the brewers leave it in there which keeps adding fruity, floral flavour to the beer, and means it remains cloudy and hazy. The big, soft juicy, fruity flavours of an East Coast IPA pair well with roast poultry.
Cider is a very fast-growing category. Good George’s cider is made by fermenting apple juice and adding plum puree to give it a subtle plum tartness and light pink colour. Sitting in the middle of the sweet to dry flavour spectrum our Doris Plum Cider is a sweet, tart, refreshing drink perfect for drinking in the sun over ice, matching very well with shellfish or most cheeses.
There are now a number of Good George venues around the countryside, a core range of award-winning beers and ciders, plus seasonal brews.
TIPS FOR BREWERS
• 90% of a brewer’s job is cleaning – your fermenter, bottles and everything else
• Most brewing infections come from the heat exchanger
• Pitch plenty of yeast into your beer to drop the PH as fast as possible
• Get good fermentation temperature control – out of control ferments lead to glue like aromas and massive hangovers!
• We all like fizzy beer – to get the carbonation of your beer high in the bottle you will need 2.8 vols of CO2
• Don’t be shy with hops, they add great aroma and flavour and are a preservative for the beer
• One of the most important things in beer is balance – getting the malt sweetness and the hop bitters is like yin and yang
• Buy the best raw materials you can no matter what the cost
• Bottle in brown glass to keep out the light
• Cap your bottles with airtight seals to reduce oxidation and gas leakage
Article by: Brian Watson