Jeff Goodieson has always loved beer. It’s what led him to undertake a degree in Food Technology and an honours year in malting and brewing at Ballarat University. He then spent a decade honing his brewing skills, working at Lion Co in Adelaide and Sydney. But living in Sydney with his wife Mary and two young boys was never the ideal, and the pair decided to take the plunge and open their own microbrewery.
It wasn’t without planning. After deciding on McLaren Vale in South Australia as a prime location for their fledgling business, the pair saved money and went on a research trip to the USA, where they sourced a second-hand steam-fired German-built brewhouse. Getting it shipped back to McLaren Vale was the easy part. The hard? Knowing that in order to build a sustainable business, they’d need the support of the local community.
Eight years on, Jeff knows they’ve been lucky. “The area has supported us enormously,” he says. “And we’ve supported the area as well.” The couple’s sons are heavily involved with sports and the brewery sponsors local football, netball and cricket clubs. “Like any country town, if you show you’re here to help, the country town will back you,” says Jeff, who also claims 50 per cent of their production is now drunk by locals. “It’s the best sort of marketing you can buy.”
Having established a 1200-litre microbrewery in the region known as one of Australia’s premium wine-growing regions, Jeff says his experience at Lion Co has proven invaluable in stepping out on his own. “I got the opportunity to train, not only in beer but also taste,” he says. “When you get into the discipline of tasting, you learn to recognise a mistake and how to correct it.”
With a core range of six beers – a Pilsner, Wheat, Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Stout, and Red Ale – the brewery also produces seasonal beers. One of which is the popular Christmas Ale – a brown ale with added spices. It reflects Jeff’s years of experience and approach to brewing: it’s not about gimmicks but a drinkable product.
“It’s got to be a beer first,” he says. “It’s got to pay respects to beer and you build on top of that. The way I was trained was to think of beer as a sphere – nothing should stick out.”
Now Goodieson Brewery is at a crossroads. With their boys growing up, Jeff and Mary plan to spend more time focusing on the business side of operations. This includes plans to export their beer to New South Wales and Victoria in an effort to capitalise on the interest interstate visitors have shown. With their family name on the label, however, Jeff says quality remains a top priority.
“I dumped one [entire batch of beer] because I didn’t like it,” he says. “We’ve been told by many people it would’ve sold, but if I’m not 100 per cent happy it’s not going out the door.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with James Squire.