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Malt Shovel Brewery

Meet the brewer: Chuck Hahn (James Squire)

Get the inside scoop on what the Godfather of Australian beer thinks about...

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Choosing beer over oil
I started drinking at 18 and started brewing at 25. I got a PhD in chemical and petroleum engineering from Colorado School of Mines in 1970. But I discovered you can’t drink oil. The university was just across town from the Coors Brewery so we used to go there to taste beer – every university student wants free beer. I discovered I had a very sensitive palate to beer, so that’s when I decided I wanted to stay in that business.

Branching out on his own
I left Coors to come out to Australia to run the Tooheys and Resch’s breweries and then in ’83 I tried to start my own small brewery but I couldn’t get the financing for it. After three-and-a-half years in New Zealand with Steinlager I came back to start the Hahn brewery in Camperdown. Back then the Hahn brewery was independent. Lion Nathan bought us in ’93 and I became chief brewer for the whole group, but I got sick of flying around all the time so I convinced Lion to let me go back to the original small brewery – the Hahn brewery – and start up a new brewing company, James Squire.

Naming a beer after himself
Hahn works because it’s easy to pronounce, it’s short and it has a German connotation to it. And everyone knows that the Germans make some of the best beers in the world.

Faking beer knowledge
When you’re tasting beer and carefully assessing it, talking about it, and matching it to your food, it’s called an organoleptic evaluation – that’s always a good term. And if you’re just drinking a lot of beer, it’s called a piss-up.

Choosing beer over wine
The winemakers have really done their work by telling people that drinking beer with a meal was unsophisticated, but we’ve done a lot of things to convince people that beer is really the better way to go. If you’re having spicy or salty food, or any sour characteristics or degree of acidity, beer is so much better.

Mixing work and play
Being originally from Colorado, I wanted to have a place in the mountains. We got a unit in Kosciuszko and put in small brewery, where we make the Kosciuszko Pale Ale. This gives me a good excuse to fish and ski and put a brew through and still call it work.

The ultimate bar snack
I love sausage rolls and meat pies; I think they’re fantastic. They’re full of calories and they can’t be good for you, but they’re beautiful with beer. You just can’t beat a good pie.

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