Jamie from England enjoys an evening at Pomeroy's, a...
Eagle Versus Dog Interview
With the Golden Eagle and Raindogs tatsing this coming Monday we thought it was a good time to get their interview from the Pom's Press online for all to read. So without further a do...
May sees a couple of Christchurch’s brightest brewing talents team up for a tasting evening, so we thought it would be a good time to have a chat to Dave Gaughan from Golden Eagle and Sean Harris. Harris, former brewer for the Twisted Hop, and Gaughan an ex-pat Englishman who missed his real ales enough to teach himself brewing share a sensibility in that they are both about tremendously balanced beers, and they have recently collaborated on The Hitch-Hiker’s Pilsner under the name Eagle v Dog.
How did you get into brewing?
DG: I started out homebrewing as the availability of craft ales wasn’t very good and I missed my English ales… this has changed dramatically since!
SH: I did a craft brewing course with the American Brewers Guild whilst living in Berkeley and reapplied my chemistry background to making beer. It’s an infinitely more satisfying branch of chemistry!
Tell me a bit about starting your own breweries.
SH: I found myself brewing at the Twisted Hop in late 2006, but post quakes with the Hop closed I finally started brewing for myself. The “Raindogs” name comes from one of my desert island discs, Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs album.
DG: I decided to teach myself brewing and see if I could make the ales I missed so much. Success bred success as it were and soon my 60l kit wasn’t enough. I’ve got a larger set up in place ready to go but the quake and finding a suitable premise has slowed progress so I’ve been utilising the set up at Three Boys. By the end of this year I should be in full swing at the bigger, brighter Golden Eagle Brewery!
What are the hallmarks of your styles?
DG: It’s probably too early for me to say I’m set on styles and focuses, but the main thread is English influenced new world styles.
SH: I guess my brewing philosophy is flavour, balance, drinkability. Making big bold beers is great and I will but the beer should always make you want to come back for another.
What is your take on the craft scene in 2012?
SH: I lived in the US for 9 years so saw a huge potential for craft beer to bloom in New Zealand, and it’s great to see it taking off. The quality of craft beer has increased orders of magnitude over the last few years. Of course, I would like to see bars opening their taps to the small brewers to further the exposure of craft beer and also to give patrons a choice beyond sweet bland lagers. But hopefully the Christchurch rebuild will embrace that.
DG: It’s booming, with new brews appearing almost daily! The brewing community are like one big family, always happy to help each other and support what we are all about! I think Christchurch has lagged a little in terms of innovation, but what has been going on here certainly has its place in the history books of craft beer revival. Overall - awesome.
Looking forward to the tasting?
DG: Absolutely. We’ll walk through the current Golden Eagle brews - so expect S.I.P.A, Ah-Reet Summer Blonde, Coalface Stout - and hopefully I’ll have a few tastes of what is being worked on for the future.
SH: Should have my current 3 core beers. Wee Bairn Bitter (named for my year old daughter), a drinkable, balanced and driver friendly 3.8% session bitter; Apothecary Amber, a 4.9% US style amber brewed with NZ hops; and Deadwood IPA, a 6.8% US style IPA with big NZ hop flavours and aromas, the craft beer scene’s favourite style.
What about your collaboration?
SH: The Hitch-Hikers Guide Pilsner. We put the beer out under the “brewery” name Eagle vs Dog to reflect the collaboration. It’s hopped with Galaxy hops from Oz which give a lovely fruity flavour and aroma.
DG: The collaboration process is really great, Sean and I just got to have a lot of fun and experiment with some interesting ingredients - a mix of German and Canterbury malts meets Aussie hops with a Czech yeast - and the result is very pleasing indeed!
What about life beyond the tasting?
DG: I think some innovation is required, new slants on old recipes, so this will be a focus. Availability of my products is another area where things should change. Also watch out for more collaboration experiments!
SH: I’m feeling my next beer will be a Porter, then maybe an American style pale ale, nice and hoppy but a bit easier on the alcohol than my IPA.
More Eagle vs Dog releases will appear, beers a bit more experimental in nature.
I thank the chaps and we’re off. I get a feeling the May tasting will be a real highlight on the craft beer calendar, and that these two breweries will be ones to watch in 2012. Christchurch certainly is lucky when it comes to the craft brewing community, so don’t take it for granted - come to the tasting and support local brewers whenever you can!