A chat with Chuck Hahn — two birthdays next year

Brewer Chuck Hahn says he’s planning for two anniversaries next year. It’ll be 20 years since he launched Hahn Premium from his then independent Camperdown brewery. And it’ll be 10 year since the birth of James Squire Original Amber Ale, made in the same brewery but now owned by Lion Nathan and renamed The Malt Shovel.

Both brews have had a tremendous influence on Aussie beer drinkers. Hahn Premium filled a need, but faltered under private ownership. Then Lion Nathan’s acquired it and went on to build a significant national brand, albeit in a slightly watered down version of the original.

Lion acquired Chuck along with Hahn Premium and the small Camperdown brewery. But after a few years as the group’s chief brewer, Chuck handed the reins to Bill Taylor and returned to Camperdown to brew James Squire.

Over time the range expanded to include a true Pilsen style; a porter; one-off seasonal specialties, like raspberry wheat beer; a porter aged in rum barrels; an ale seasoned with Aussie pepper berries; the now top-selling Golden Ale and the just-released James Squire Sundown Lager.

Chuck’s planning a distinctive ale to mark next year’s double anniversary. And he’ll be opening a new brewery, too. But that’s a story for next week.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008