Brewing is a family business for Mark Jackman and his wife, Marie. They live above the brewery, Marie takes care of the accounts, and Mark says, “I do selling and deliveries and everything in between”.
Mark brews for two breweries. Black Sands is a local West Auckland operation started in 2013 by Ian Hebblethwaite, David Holden and Peter Osborne. Weezledog is run by the Jackmans. Although they share the same kit and brewer, Black Sands is aimed at the local Westie market, while Weezledog is craft operation with a wider distribution.
“I started brewing as lot of us do, as a way of making cheap beer. I always thought brewing my own beer would be quite cool, and when Marie and I got together her father gave us all the bits and pieces to get started. I did a lot of reading, and had advice from Brewers Coop, and I just was carried away, and here I am. Now it’s a 600L brew house and we double-brew into 1200L fermenters so we can do up to 40,000L per year.”
A native Yorkshire man – Mark arrived in New Zealand when he was ten and his accent is still strong – Mark says a traditional English Bitter is one of his favourite styles to brew.
“Making a good English Bitter is one of the hardest styles to do well, so getting a good one of those is the most satisfying. The balance of malt, hops and esters is a challenge. You don’t have any room for error in a 3.5% beer and everything is subtle and has to come together perfectly. Getting it all together to work well is difficult.”
Mark’s home brewing was very diverse and he uses that experience to perfect his commercial beers.
“When I was home brewing I never did the same recipe twice. I probably made a couple of hundred home brews in pretty much every style. We make eight beers between Black Sands and Weezledog. We don’t make any wild changes, and each beer’s character is set, but anything we think will make the beer better we will change from one batch to the next. I’ve been brewing on this gear for about 100 brews now in the last 18 months, so we are pretty used to the equipment and we’ve got a good feeling for how the beers will end up.”
And the Weezledog name? Mark says it is both his brother’s description of a Tasmanian Devil, and Mark’s own pet name for wife Marie. “She doesn’t mind, surprisingly!” he says. “It was always what we called our home brew and the names always been around. We did consider having another name but our brand is an extension of ourselves.”