The George IV Inn
Geoff Scharer likes to call himself “the son of a son of a son of a son of a publican.” But he discovered his life’s work in 1950, when he was about 10. His father had a meeting with Edmund Resch, owner of Resch’s Brewery, whose beer was at the time preferred by discerning beer drinkers in Sydney. (It’s now a Lion Nathan brand.)
“If you’re going to be anything,” Resch told Scharer, “why not be a brewer?”
For the rest of his career, Scharer has followed Resch’s advice. It has led him to become one of Australia’s pioneering brewpub owners.
In 1975, Scharer went to a British brewing trade fair to learn how to operate a brewpub. Most exhibitors laughed at him. One sent him to Basel, Switzerland, where some of the world’s first brewpubs were being constructed. Scharer then went to Germany, where he met Otto Binding, the renowned brewing consultant.
Binding told Scharer everything he needed to do to set up a brewpub and found a surplus German brewery for him. He also supplied two recipes, for Dortmunder-style bock and lager. “I have followed Binding’s advice ever since,” Scharer said.
In 1980, Scharer received one of the first Australian brewpub licenses, but it took him seven years to raise enough capital to transform his cozy George IV Inn as a brewpub. Since Scharer’s Little Brewery opened in 1987, beer lovers have been flocking to Picton (about 60 miles southwest of Sydney) to savor Scharer’s lager and his potent Burragorang Bock, a beer that Michael Jackson in Ultimate Beer describes as “the biggest beer in Australia.”
Scharer’s Little Brewery may grow larger. For the past three years, the pieces of what was Tankstream Brewing, a failed Sydney micro, have sat in a field next to the George IV Inn. In August 1999, the Picton City Council finally gave permission for Scharer to construct a craft brewery.
Martin Morse Wooster
Martin Morse Wooster is an associate editor of The American Enterprise and a frequent contributor to Mid-Atlantic Brewing News.