Dominique Schilk: Beer Sommelier, Gypsy Brewer, Bierfrau vom Dienst

By Shane Mulhall & Stephanie Böhm, Communications Kommissars at The Culinary Love Band

As the craft beer scene develops in Austia, there are a number of inspiring people who stand out to us at The Culinary Love Band. One of those people is Dominique Schilk of Hawidere, and more recently, Collabs fame. Dominique became the manager of Hawidere five years ago and, more recently, Head Beer Sommelier and ‘Bierfrau vom Dienst’. In 2015 Hawidere was rated as Beer Pub of the Year in Conrad Seidl’s Bierguide. Last week we had a chat with Dominique about the craft beer scene in Austria….

How did Hawidere become the first craft beer pub in Vienna? 

©Stephanie Böhm / TCLB.at

©Stephanie Böhm / TCLB.at

Our craft beer story began about a year and a half ago, in 2014. Markus Betz from our drinks supplier, Ammersin, called by with some bottles. I think it was a Brewdog and a Jaipur IPA from Thornbridge. I hadn’t heard of craft beer before. They were the first two we tried and we were amazed with what was possible! With that first sip of Jaipur began my passion for Craft Beer. Then we jumped in at the deep end with a 15 item craft beer menu, but it has worked out well for us. We never aspired to be the ‘first craft beer pub’ in Vienna, it just kind of happened!

How do you think the craft beer scene in VIENNA will develop in the next few years?

I’m pretty excited about what will happen. I think it will grow, and I think the market will be weeded out. There are many entering the market and I’m sure a few will also fall to the side- beers, pubs, breweries- as it happens with such trends. But I don’t think it will remain a ‘trend’ in this way. Instead I think it will be a whole new story. I think, like wine paired with food, it will become completely accepted in the indusrty, but it may take a while. I don’t think it will totally vanish again.

You recently became a gypsy/nomad brewer under your label Collabs, what does Gypsy/Nomad brewing mean to you?

Very simply, it’s the ultimate feeling of freedom! No barriers to hold you back, no minimum production to achieve like large breweries. Instead we brew what we like with the people we like. That’s what I did with Bierol and Dom Rep Pils which was such an amazing experience with such nice people and such an unbelievable exchange of ideas and recipes which made it a beautiful collaboration.

Do you already have plans for your second beer?

We are just back from travelling in Italy and all around England and visited a few breweries along the way including Birra del Borgo in Italy, and Thornbridge in England where we were actually envisaging doing something together. That’s all I can share for now…

©Stephanie Böhm / TCLB.at

©Stephanie Böhm / TCLB.at

If you had all the resources and time in the world, which kind of beer would you brew and why?

To be honest, I don’t find it too exciting to do something with lots of money behind it, but rather it’s the simple things or forgotten things that excite me. Such as the fruits that are all around us but seldom used any more- that, I find interesting. If we’re talking about herbs alone, I find lovage, for example, to be a wonderful herb that you can’t find in any shops today even though it grows all around us. I think it’s a shame that you can only find the likes of parsley, dill, and chives in the supermarkets these days.

Who is your favourite brewery at the moment and why?

That’s tough, there are so many great breweries in Austia and around the world. Of course there is Thornbridge from whom I’ve never tasted a beer which I could say was undrinkable, or didn’t taste good, even if it didn’t suit my taste. At the moment I find Beavertown very exciting simply because they make fantastic beers and they are so on the pulse when it comes to design and marketing and everything they do. But a favourite is hard to name because it seems to change every day and of course knowing the brewer can have a big influence on my perception of a beer.

Which beers are in your fridge at the moment?

Of course Collabs Dom Rep Pils, then I think O’Hara‘s Leann Folláin, Trumer Hopfenspiel and lots of Belgian stuff hiding in the corners waiting to be drank! And very importantly, I always have a simple 0,33l can of lager incase I want to make a ‘Beer Bud Chicken’! As in, standing the chicken up on the open can and roasting it in the oven… but I’d like to try that with a cool craft beer and see what happens!

Finally, If you were a beer style, which style would best describe you?

Probably a Black IPA, dark, harsh, strong, and not for everyone ;-)

 

Collabs Dom Rep Pils is available in Slow Tacos on the Donaukanal and as a guest beer in The Brickmakers Ale & Cider House on Zieglergasse, and of course from the source at Hawidere in the 15th District. Hawidere.at