Last week’s death of Geoff Scharer has prompted a flood of reminiscences on Australian Brews News. It also prompted our resident beer historian, Dr Brett Stubbs, to dig into the archives of the Australian Beer Society and pull out an article from the November 1984 edition of the society’s journal lamenting the difficulties Geoff was having in getting his brewery up and running. Brett also corrected our statement that Geoff obtained his brewer’s licence in 1981; we are reliably informed that it was 1978. Alhtough the article below was written in 1984, Scharer’s Little Brewery did not open until 1987.
by Mike Wales
Reproduced from Beer Matters, The Official Journal of the Australian Beer Society, vol. 1, no. 6, November 1984.
Geoff Scharer does not give the initial impression of being one to knock Australia or Australians, but mention brewing and his publican’s bonhomie evaporates instantly. You see, Geoff has been trying to do something of immense importance for Australia and so far his reward has been, if not a kick in the pants, then total indifference.
Geoff, as I have mentioned, is a publican, and publicans as we all know are not renowned as dreamers. But Geoff dared to entertain a dream. It was a bold plan but one which must surely be close to the heart of any readers of this magazine. Yes, Geoff wanted to create a commercial brewery.
Geoff is inclined to assert that all Australian beers have one thing in common, that being that beers they are not. His brew was not to be chemical ridden, bland pap but a true beer in the Germanic tradition. A beer which would not attempt to compete with the product of the brewing giants on the basis of price. Indeed, such would be out of the question with his ingredients being imported from wherever the finest examples were to be found. His products’ selling point would be quality. There can be no question that such a product would have a place on the Australian market. A beer brewed with quality being the only goal would be unique!
But don’t bother wetting your lips in anticipation because Geoff is about to give up. For years now he has battled various government departments and obscure statutory authorities for the right to operate his brewery and he has won. Geoff has his brewer’s licence, he has most of his equipment, he has a site, he even owns a pub through which he can market the product. What he needs now is investors, but can he get them? You’d have to be joking, this is Australia mate! Geoff reckons he gets nauseous when he sees those ads depicting bank managers giving cash away in their sleep. I can’t say I blame him.
Next time you are passing the George IV Inn at Picton spare a thought for Geoff and his dream which died because Australians will not invest in their own country, and if it seems that you can hear something like bath water going down the plug hole, that’s not Geoff’s dream—that’s Australia…mate.