Desert Island Beers – Sean Harris, New Zealand
Meet Sean Harris, founder and brewer at Raindogs Brewing Co. Christchurch, New Zealand. Sean was born and raised in Christchurch, went to University there and did an honours degree and then a PhD in chemistry. He says he got pretty sick of the insipid mainstream beer on offer back then and with imported beer rare (rubbish mass produced lager only) and with craft brewed beer also pretty hard to come by he basically gave beer up in favour of wine and cider.
Sean then moved to the USA to work after university, specifically Houston, Texas and it was there that he discovered the world of beer that was just not available back then in New Zealand. The craft brewing industry in the US to him was an eye opener. After Houston he moved to the San Francisco area and spent a couple of years working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. His love of beer continued to grow and develop there; there were lots of small breweries and brewpubs in the area so lots of great fresh beer to try. And it was whilst living there that he decided he’d had enough of working as a research chemist and given the vibrant brewing scene, could see opportunities to get into brewing and take that back to New Zealand.
Sean had been successfully home brewing for a while but decided he needed a bit more of a formal education in brewing so he took the American Brewers Guild craft brewing course. He says it was an excellent course that provided a thorough background into the science and practical engineering of brewing and it also provided Sean with a two month internship at E&O Trading Company in San Francisco.
From there Sean then brewed at a brewpub north of San Francisco called The Broken Drum for a time. He then moved to Seattle which he says had a fantastic brewing scene but was unable to get a foot in the door. So he packed up and moved back home to Christchurch. Soon after he arrived back he got the job brewing at The Twisted Hop, (at the time) a relatively new brewpub in the city. Sean worked there for 5 years brewing predominantly cask beer for service in the bar and which Sean says was his first major exposure to the joys of real ale. He had a great time there but it all came to an end with the Christchurch Earthquakes closing the City Centre and the pub.
The above, Sean says really forced him to look at pursuing his own business, so he started Raindogs Brewing Co in the late half of 2011 and has been lucky to be able to brew his beers at another local brewery, Three Boys, so has not needed to invest in brewery plant up until now. But as production needs have increased and hopefully will continue to do so, the time has come to open his on brewery and Sean is in the process of doing so right now and aims to have the new brewery site up and running in early 2013.
Hi Sean; great to have you on our Desert Island, which 5 beers would you want to have with you if you were stranded here and why?
Townshend Brewery – Sutton Hoo – (Upper Moutere, New Zealand – 4.7%)
“In recent times perhaps the best real ale I’ve had on beer engine would be Townshend Brewery’s Sutton Hoo. Perfect balance of flavours.”
Georgetown Brewing Co - Georgetown Mannys Pale Ale – (Seattle, Washington USA – 5.4%)
“I used to enjoy many a glass of Manny’s Pale Ale from Georgetown Brewing in Seattle, generally during lunch at Smarty Pants, the pub across the road from the brewery. The perfect blend of beer, food and place.”
Raindogs Brewing Co. – Wee Bairn Bitter – (Christchurch, New Zealand – 3.8%)
“In recent times I’ve been really craving English bitters for a great balance of hops and malt without the big alcohol tag. I’ll add my own Wee Bairn Bitter to the list here. Caramel, toffee malt with a citrus hop character. It hits the spot.” (Wee Bairn Bitter is named for Sean’s daughter Mila.)
Verhaeghe - Duchesse De Bourgogne – (Vichte, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium – 6.2%)
“I enjoy a sour ale and so would have to take some Duchesse De Bourgogne to the island. Complex and refreshing. Just delicious.”
BrewDog – Tokyo – (Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland – 18.2%)
“To keep warm at night on the island I think an Imperial Stout would be appropriate. May as well go big here so I’d take Brewdog’s Tokyo. Huge alcohol and fantastic flavours. Just for sipping mind you.”
Would have to keep the alcohol in check for my favourite choice as the desert island will be hot. For the sake of many great memories and a sessionable beer I’d choose Manny’s Pale Ale.
You can also take one meal to go with your beers, what would it be and why? Is it a ‘last supper’ or a perfect pairing for one of the beers?
“Hard to pick one meal. I love spicy food so it would have to be tasty. Perhaps the world’s best kebab or burrito? Both would go great with the Manny’s.”
You have a CD/MP3/long player but you can only take one album. Choose wisely!
“A cruel choice to make. I named my brewery after the Tom Waits album Raindogs so I guess I’d better pack that for the island. I’m crying over all the albums I can’t take, thank goodness for beer.”
The Beer Book
You might be waiting a long time on your lonesome on the desert island, so we will automatically allow you a few books to keep your mind busy. You can pick between two beer books and two tomes:
• ‘The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food’ by Garrett Oliver, or;
. Beer by Michael Jackson; plus;
• The Bible, or;
• another appropriate religious or philosophical work
“1. Have to go with Beer. Not too much of a chance of rustling up a beer and food matching dinner stuck on a desert island!
2. I’m not a religious person so would have to go with something scientific. Perhaps A Brief History Of Time by Stephen Hawking.”
The non-beery, non-philosophical book; you can also take a something a little less taxing on the brain, what would that be?
“I’m a fan of science fiction and fantasy and with plenty of spare time living on an island I’d have to take something pretty long. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time would certainly do the job.”
The Luxury Item
What luxury item would help make your stay on the island bearable?
Many thanks Sean. For more information on Raindogs Brewing C0. and their beers see their Facebook site here .
Have you tried Sean’s favourite beers? Let us know and many thanks to him for taking part and being our castaway for the week.
This article was simultaneously posted at Real Ale Reviews on 7th December 2012 as part of a collaboration on ‘Desert Island Beers’.
Tags: BrewDog - Tokyo, Desert Island Beers, Georgetown Brewing Co - Mannys Pale Ale, Raindogs Brewing Co., Raindogs Brewing Co. - Wee Bairn Bitter, Sean Harris, Townshend Brewery - Sutton Hoo, Verhaeghe - Duchesse De Bourgogne