Producing a good beer is a mixture of science and art, Scotts Brewing Co’s new head brewer Jordan Wong says.
“I love just being able to create something,” Mr Wong said.
“You have this vision in your mind of what you want your beer to taste like, and when it comes out tasting that way, it’s pretty spectacular.”
Tyla Scott, who co-owns the Oamaru business with husband Phil, said Mr Wong was well qualified to lead the brewing team and had a “great knowledge of beer and brewing”.
“In business it’s always a good idea to surround yourself with clever people, and that’s what we’ve managed to do with all our team,” Mrs Scott said.
“Jordan’s position at Scotts Brewing Co allows Phil to step aside and work on other projects.”
The Canadian started work in Oamaru on August 1, after being head brewer at Cargo Brewery in Queenstown for more than two years.
He was drawn to Oamaru’s proximity to the ocean and its rural surrounds.
“It’s quite a unique place, I think. I’m from Vancouver, in Canada, and so I’m kind of used to bigger cities.
“So, it’s really cool that, you know, the main part of town, and where I’m staying at Tyla and Phil’s, is only five minutes away, but it’s all farmland. I find that really neat.
Mr Wong loved the variety of the beer brewed at Scotts, in a time when hazy beers were becoming increasingly popular.
“I’ve been brewing hazy beers for what must be close to five years now. Doing it back home in Canada, when it first became really popular, and now I guess it’s kind of been popular here in New Zealand.
“But the fact that Scotts only has one hazy, I think is really cool. I quite like that.
“They really focus on lagers, and pilsners .. the other beers that people forget about, that I think are really great, and again, are beers that are a little bit more difficult to make.
“Yeah, I think it’s more of a well-rounded tap list .. as opposed to just hazy, hazy, hazy.”
Mr Wong was drawn to New Zealand after working as an assistant brewer for about four years back home. He was keen to travel, further his career and experience a different country.
“I was kind of looking around. There was a job in Paris, a job in England and one in South Korea, but we finally decided on New Zealand, because I also have a sister who lives in Christchurch.”
His parents had managed to travel here in February last year, just before the country went into its first Alert Level 4 lockdown, so he was grateful they had that opportunity to spend some time together.
The brewing community was a tight-knit one and that was an aspect he enjoyed of his career.
“The people within the brewing community are really great and everyone’s kind of helpful.
“We don’t really give away the secrets, but you know we help people along when they have questions and whatnot.”
As beer was considered an essential item in lockdown, Mr Wong has been working through all the alert levels, albeit at reduced hours.
One of the challenges the lockdown presented was the unknowns around what quantities were needed.
“But tanks are basically all full and ready to go. So we’re just waiting on the go-ahead to start packaging and selling more beer.”
In his spare time, Mr Wong liked to play golf and was looking to join a local club. He and his girlfriend, who was looking for work at present, also enjoyed tramping.
“We’ve done some of the great walks and all that. Just getting out into nature and taking it all in, that’s something we like to do in our spare time.”
And of course, he liked to put his feet up and enjoy a beer – but could not pick just one favourite, describing himself as more of a “seasonal drinker”.
“When I first arrived, the weather was a little bit cooler, so I was really enjoying the Black Point Stout. I also really enjoyed the Vienna Lager.
“But as the weather’s getting a little bit warmer, I think just sitting out on the patio with a Nineteen 05 is pretty great.”,