A Hawke's Bay couple who started brewing beer to avoid a Nigerian government ban on foreign beer are now planning to expand their Maraekakaho "beer farm" to cope with demand.

Godsown Brewery owners Godfrey Quemeneur and Rachel Downes originally started off with a cellar door operation in Hawke's Bay before making the move to a fully licensed restaurant with brew house and hop garden, just last year.

Downes said they chose to start growing their own hops to brew because they wanted to see a natural "farm to plate" kind of product.

"We're growing the smooth growing variety, which grows wild around New Zealand. We had a trial for a couple of years, just to see if it was going to work.


"So, we just divided and divided and divided and now we have a hop garden - and it worked pretty well. We now have more than we can use.

Brewer Godfrey Quemeneur. Photo / Supplied
Brewer Godfrey Quemeneur. Photo / Supplied

"We harvested for the first time last year. We use the hops in two of our beers, so we make our green hop IPA, which is done when we harvest. That uses hops as fresh as possible, so we from pick to use - is within the hour.

"We would claim that it's one of, if not the, freshest hop to be used in the country.

"The rest we dry and use in our Creation pale ale. So, we have more than we can use. From last year's harvest to this year's harvest we at least doubled, if not tripled what we harvested."

Hops were harvested, usually around the end of February or the beginning of March.

"We've always though about it as being beer farmers. We try to produce as much from our own property as we can, so we always had the plan to grow our own hops."

The type of hops available to use however, was limited.

That was because there were no independent hop growers in New Zealand.


Quemeneur said the operation had the capacity to brew batches of 820 litres, with brewing equipment imported from the United States.

"It takes us about five to six weeks for an ale and it can take as long as three months for certain types of lager.

"We're pretty much vegan friendly too. We don't use any animal products like gelatine."

The brew house was commissioned and installed at the end of 2014 but production only went full-time when Godsown moved away from the cellar door operation. It now produced about 10,000 litres of beer a year - across 14 different beer styles.

The couple planned to improve the on-site facilities for the public.

"We are planning to have a bigger kitchen, so we have the space to have more fridges for retailing canned and bottled beers. We're not trying to get into the supermarkets but we might look at partnering with local businesses."

Downes said they hoped to put on more events next summer with live entertainment, once facilities were upgraded over winter.

The pair first got into home-brewing when they lived in Nigeria.

"The Nigerian government stopped allowing imported beer, so we were left with the local product - which wasn't too grand," Quemeneur said.

"But I tasted some of Rachel's father's home-brew on a visit back to New Zealand and I thought well, that doesn't look too hard.

"So that's how we first tinkered with the idea.'

The couple moved to Perth in 2006, where they spent three years finalising their business plan, which involved a brewery and a lifestyle block to carry out the whole process.