Drink

Meet Legendary Brewmaster, Chuck Hahn

Beer

This week, our We Know Melbourne writer, Nick Phillips sat down with legendary brewmaster Chuck Hahn ahead of The Swanston Hotel’s, For the Love of Beer event on September 15.

I used to work on the production line at CUB’s Abbotsford brewery before it all became automated. The ‘old timers’ there would always sneak us a few bottles of beer before it went through the pasteuriser. In my memory it tasted much better than the unpasteurised beer.  Is my memory playing tricks on me or do you think pasteurising changes the taste?

Fresh beer is best.   Properly managed, tunnel or flash pasteurisation should not be detrimental to final beer flavour.  However, if the beer contains too much oxygen due to improper processing, when it is heated up, it will become slightly oxidised with stale (almost papery) flavours. At Hahn Brewing Company, we pioneered the process called “cold sterile filtration”.  The beer was filtered through a sterile filter at cold temperatures in the final process to stabilise the beer.   However, a number of years ago, we went with flash pasteurisation for stabilisation, as the very tight filtration was removing a lot of the flavoursome hop components.

Do you miss the days of being an independent brewer at Hahn before Lion took it over? I notice that Asahi recently bought one of my favourite Melbourne craft beer producers Mountain Goat. What do you think that will mean for Mountain Goat’s future?

Asahi, over the last couple years, had been contract brewing Mtn. Goat Ales.  In fact, the Richmond brewery produced about one million litres/year of Goat, while the Asahi brewery produced two millions litres of Goat.   All production was good quality and well received by the market until word got out that Asahi had purchased Mtn. Goat.  It is not the brewery, but rather the brewer that makes the beer.   At Squires and Kosciuszko breweries, we still operate pretty much independently with the advantage of Lion distribution and marketing.  We carefully brew our Squires ales at some of the larger Lion breweries and that is the only way we are able to keep up with the growing demands for our beers and fine ciders.

Who came up with the idea for using the history of James Squires as the theme for your latest venture? It’s such a great story, when I first heard about it I thought he must be a fictional character!

I did.  Quite the story here, and I will tell some of it during that evening.  In late 1998, I gave up my job as chief brewer at Lion (which I had held since then Lion Nathan had purchased HBC in 1993) and convinced them to let me go back to the original HBC brewery and start up the Camperdown Colonial Brewery with a passionate team of brewers to make English-style ales.  I then discovered the authentic story of James Squire, as Australia’s first brewer, arriving as a convict on the First Fleet in 1788.  I contacted many of his descendants asking their permission to brew beers in his honour, received permission and gradually built up the Squire Brand family.  We are now the largest authentic craft brand in Australia.  Much more to this story as you will discover.

As they used to say on the TV ad, how can Hahn Superdry be both ‘dry’ and ‘wet’? Someone told me it’s the amount of time it’s brewed for, another that you have to use a special yeast? If so do you use the same method/yeast as Asahi Superdry?

 Hahn Super Dry is created by cooking the malted barley three times as long in the mash cooker in the brew house.  This enables the enzymes that are present in the malt to break down all the carbohydrates present into fermentable sugars.  These sugars are then metabolised by the yeast (normal lager yeast) into alcohol, carbon dioxide and beer flavour.  We call it Super Dry, since we have made it “dry” by fermenting out all the sugars.  The yeast does all the hard work.  Due to lack of carbohydrates, it has a dry, not satiating, finish.   No relation to Asahi super dry or the clothing under the same name.

Do you have anything special planned for our guests who come along to your beer appreciation night on 15th September?  

Yes

Thank you so much, Chuck and I’m really looking forward to the night!

Meet Chuck Hahn at The Swanston Hotel’s For the Love of Beer event on Thursday 15th September 6.30pm-8.30pm.

Cost:  $35 per person (or $30 for AccorPlus members)

Bookings: (03) 8662 1301 or h3028-gm02@accor.com