As the craft beer movement takes hold and a new generation of beer drinkers embrace the idea of the brewer as a celebrity, it is easy to forget some of the identities that went before, such as Otto Haag who passed away recently.
Otto, who was the head brewer at XXXX in the days before Bond Brewing purchased it, was something of a legend in Queensland. The Courier Mail ran an obituary to him, though we cannot link to it due to the pay wall…however if you follow this link you will find Google search results that should let you click to the obituary.
David Park worked with Otto in the mid-80s and has penned this tribute to him. If you worked with Otto, or knew him, I would encourage you to share your remembrances of him in the comments below.
Vale master brewer Otto Haag
Australia’s brewing industry was saddened this month to learn of the death of legendary XXXX brewer Otto Haag. The obituary for Otto in Brisbane’s Courier Mail is a moving read; it provides a good profile of both his working and family life.
This note is my personal perspective of Otto. The first brewer I ever met.
I met Otto when I started at the XXXX Brewery in late 1986 as the company’s first Public Affairs Manager.
The organisation structure of the brewing operation in those days was still the traditional multi-layered management.
Atop this sat Otto Haag. He was in charge of all things brewing at Castlemaine Perkins Limited and reported then to Frank Burnett who was MD.
I was counselled early not to use Otto as a spokesperson because he could be too frank (no pun about the MD intended).
That advice proved wrong.
After working with the senior team for a few months it became clear that Otto was a real PR talent. There was nothing about the brewing process he couldn’t simplify into terms anyone could understand. He was open, honest, credible and had a delightful sense of humour and wicked wink. He had myriad anecdotes he could tell about brewing and Castlemaine Perkins.
Journalists took to Otto. The enthusiastic and engaging way he spoke about brewing – coupled to that honesty and credibility – set a benchmark for other ‘brewer champions’ who followed.
It was no secret that the changes Bond Corporation brought about did not sit well with Otto (and lots of others across the infamous Bond Brewing).
We were all so pleased for him when he left to set up his own winery on the Downs.
His death notice came as a shock to me. Not just because he was only in his early 70s but because he was always so full of life and had so much on the go both at work and in his family life.
Otto taught me a lot about brewing and its history, especially its German heritage. His lessons have stayed with me through some 16 years of working for both major brewers and now into occasional blogging about beer.
David Park: Public Affairs Manager at Castlemaine Perkins Limited 1986 – 1994