We met in 'The Walkabout' pub in Reading, England. I worked there and Godfrey drank there. So we literally met over a beer. During our first conversation we discovered that we both wanted some land that brought people together. Over the course of the next 10 years this dream became a brewery, GodsOwn (a play on belonging to Godfrey and being in Godzone), surrounded by a natural environment where families could relax and enjoy themselves. I convinced Godfrey, who grew up in South Africa, that my home country was the perfect place.
Godfrey started home brewing in Nigeria where we lived for two years. Imported beer was banned and the local beer was a bit of a lucky dip. It had a range from water to petrol! My dad dabbled in a bit of home brew and after a visit to NZ we returned to Nigeria with a ‘kit and kilo’. The initial product was nearly as good as the Nigerian brew! Despite this Godfrey was hooked. Well, isn’t beer great for bringing people together to enjoy life!
The first Bar that we built using reclaimed materials at our house in Nigeria
London is a great place to try lots of beer. We were back and tasting as much as we could. In 2006 we went to a little festival called 'Beer on Broadway' in Ealing. It was the 17th year for this festival and we still have the glass! There were lots of beers on offer but one really stood out- an espresso stout. Coffee and beer together!! It really showed us that craft beer is a reflection of a brewer’s creativity as well as skill. Unfortunately I couldn't make the most of it as our son was born 5 days later!
We were a family now and wanted to head back to the Southern Hemisphere. Godfrey got transferred to Perth. He, and his mate, Gary, built a small brewing system that Godfrey had designed. It got installed in our carport and full grain mashing began. Western Australia also has an abundance of breweries that helped us picture the kind of place we wanted. 3 years and many, many batch brews later we headed to NZ.
Godfrey in his first brewery in our Perth carport
We set out in our 1973 caravan to find the right location. Hawkes Bay stood out for us. Breweries fit in well with food, wine and sunshine. We were looking for a livable house, some flat land, and the right ‘feel’. As soon as we got out of the car we knew we had found it, a beautiful spot in Maraekakaho. I loved the old villa, small local community and a school round the corner. We moved onto our 6.5h property on the 1st Feb 2010.
Since then we have added a daughter, extended the old villa (with only one bedroom it was a bit small), developed a hop farm (why not?), and built an 800l brewery in the back yard!