Chuck Hahn celebrated his 50th year in brewing at Sydney’s Squire’s Landing on December 6, with one of the highlights being a poem penned by Lion account manager and poet Tim Knight.
Knight took to the stage to pay tribute to Hahn, who has been crafting beer in Australia for the past 40 years after spending 10 years with Coors in the US.
Knight (above) noted that as he was walking to the event, he saw an empty bottle of Hahn Super Dry that reminded him of the brewer.
“One of [Chuck’s] famous sayings is ‘you know you’ve made it in life when you’re walking home from the pub and you see your name in the gutter,” he joked.
Here’s Knight’s ode to Dr Hahn …
Australia’s First Name in Beer!
Your initial thoughts might point to the James Squire name we hold so dear.
But! Scratch beneath the surface,
And settle in for this little yarn,
And you’ll very quickly realise,
The DEEPEST chapter in Australia’s brewing,
Is none other than Dr Chuck Hahn.
The boy from Colorado,
The Petro-Chemical Engineer,
Would go on to blaze Aussie brewing history,
Into a place we all revere.
He was a very gifted student,
Blitzing his Doctorate with talent and toil.
But only a short time into his new career,
Chuck famously realised – “you can’t drink oil!”
So, he turned his eye to brewing,
And to local juggernaut Coors.
At the foot-hills of the Rockies,
A young Chuck was already knocking down doors.
You see, he pioneered a low-carb lager,
Well before “Low Carb” was even a thing.
The brew was known as Coors Lite,
In that famous silver tin.
Chuck’s name was building equity,
Right across the USA,
In fact, the word was spreading globally
As he answered a call, beginning – “G’day!”
It was Tooth & Co. on the blower,
With an offer to brew abroad.
“we’ve found a place for you in Coogee”,
“just pack your Speedo’s and a board”
So, Chuck made the move ‘Down-Under’,
His Aussie brewing legacy had just begun.
He found a new home on the city beaches,
Swapping Rocky Mountain powder for salty Sydney sun.
The Tooth Brewery, at the time,
Was the most advanced Australia had ever seen.
But a short while into this latest gig,
Came the call for another change of scene.
As the technical brewer for Lion,
Chuck would move his focus to the ‘Land-of-the-Long-White-Cloud’
And if you were lucky enough to taste Steinlager back then,
You’d understand why Chuck’s brilliance made Lion proud.
Then, as 1988 rolled ‘round,
And the Bi-Centenary was in the air,
Chuck knew it was time to take a risk,
To go it alone, to TRULY show his flair.
A former furniture factory at Camperdown
Would be the canvas for his art,
With his famous family cock proudly on the door,
It was time to make a start!
Hahn Premium was the flagship brew,
It was actually a pilsener if you ask.
But to explain what a pilsener was back then,
Would have been far too hard a task.
The beer was simply outstanding!
The big aroma hit you first.
The big malt bill, THAT BALANCE!
It did far more than just quench your thirst.
It won a swag of big awards,
It changed the way Aussies perceived beer.
It remains one of Australia’s deepest shames,
That that great beer is no longer here.
Hahn was re-defining the Aussie brewing landscape,
Then along came “The Recession We Had To Have”.
So before crippling interest rates decimated further,
Chuck sold to Lion Nathan,
Or, as he prefers to call it – “a merger!”
And so began the romance,
The second coming of James Squire,
At the magnificent Malt Shovel Brewery,
A chapter that would elevate Chuck’s legend even higher.
The first beer of the kegging line,
Was truly something to behold.
With it’s “window-panes of ruby-mahogany”,
James Squire Amber Ale dramatically broke the mould.
In a country of ‘lager-lovers’,
This English Brown Ale danced a visual symphony in the glass.
With its nutty-rounded finish,
It was simply in another class.
It shook the Sydney beer scene up,
Then spread right across this great vast land.
You knew you were “drinking up-stream from the herd”,
When you had an Amber Ale in your hand.
This paved the way for more great brews,
Far too many to mention here.
There’s been Beer World Cups and AIBAs,
There’s been endless happy cheers.
And all the while Chuck’s passion,
Hard work and inspiration,
Has moulded many others,
And elevated the role of beer right across the nation.
The Malt Shovel/Hahn alumni,
Reads a veritable brewing ‘who’s-who’.
From Gillespie, Staines, O’Rance,
Just to name a few.
Chuck has been a tireless advocate,
Of beer and food matching education.
Bringing beer back to the dinner table,
With his “organoleptic evaluations!”
There’s been some amazing projects,
That have traversed Chuck’s long beer ride.
Though it’s the Kosciuszko Brewery,
That immensely peaks his pride.
That pristine mountain pale ale,
The fruits of hand and heart,
Is a punctuation in a glass,
Of a Brewmaster that has complete mastery of his art.
And the image of the mountain,
that adorns the Kosci label,
taken from the camera on his phone,
only adds to the Chuck Hahn fable.
Chuck’s always blazed his own trail,
But he’s not done it alone.
For many are the characters,
That have helped lift him atop the throne.
Of course, there’s Margaret, his dear wife,
Who has been there through it all.
I’m sure there’s far too many beer dinners and trips,
Than Margaret would care to recall.
There’s Freshy with his genius,
Tony Jones with his class.
Pete Merrington with his loyalty,
James Brindley with his brass.
Then there’s Richard with his “Porter Balls”,
And Waz to raise the game.
And there’s a hundred other kindred souls,
That nurtured all the same.
So, raise your glass,
And “SLAM IT DOWN SLOWLY!”
Savour the taste, raise a ‘Cheers’,
And savour the legend, Dr Chuck Hahn,
For fifty industry defining years!
Chuck Hahn looks back on 50 years of brewing