Today's Good Living (Fairfax press) reports the passing of Geoff Scharer, at the age of 72 after a short illness.
Along with the late Mark Shield, Geoff Scharer was a major influence in my passion for good beer. His single-mindedness about brewing beer of uncompromising quality was a significant factor in driving the Aussie craft brewing industry to where it is today.
His eponymous brewery in Picton was a 80's/90's haven for beer nuts, travellers, and bikies alike. And his particular ethic about not serving anything else but his own product was, if not unwise, admirable.
"Brave", Sir Humphrey might have said. What made it braver was his attempt to replicate this business model in the Rocks.
I recall an evening with my old friend Julian, at the Australian Hotel, which became Scharer's outlet of choice in Sydney city. As Julian and I sipped on Burragorang Bock, a group of nursing students fronted the bar (Geoff was behind it), and asked for half a dozen Carlton Colds and as many Toohey's News. Our host leant over the bar, said something to the effect of "we don't sell that shit here", and summarily dispatched them to the nearby Glenmore Hotel.
My first ever taste of Burragorang Bock was an epiphany. A rich, complex, chocolatey drink with a hidden kick. We would buy champagne bottles of the stuff at Picton, with instructions to "treat like milk". Unpasteurised, and meant for immediate consumption. So too the Scharer's lager, an unfiltered, apricoty old world lager that would these days go head to head with the ubiquitous American Pale Ale.
I'm not even sure the brewery exists anymore..... so these beers may be consigned to history. But I won't forget the irascible Mr Scharer, nor his contribution to the Australian beer scene as it stands today.