A Taste Of Munich In Moonah
Boekamp Bier is one of Tasmania’s newest breweries, with the doors of their Moonah brewery only opening in September this year. In a step away from most craft breweries, owners Mark French and Juriaan Boekamp are using their reinvigorated German brewkit to focus purely on traditional Bavarian beer styles of crisp lagers and flavoursome weizens.
Juriaan and Mark first met in 2006 when the pair attended a government run workshop that was educating people on setting up a small business in Tasmania. Unbeknownst to each other, the pair had the same vision; to open their own brewery in a space that had been long dominated by Cascade and Boag’s. Their vision didn’t develop immediately, with Mark returning to his farm and Juriaan to his work as a brewer, but they remained in contact and would regularly get together to drink home brew and trade recipes. A few years down the track and they were both ready to start work on their project, with Juriaan to work as the brewer, whilst Mark focused on the logistical side of the brewery.
A visit to Boekamp Bier is like stepping into something of a time warp. The tasting room is quite industrial, with polished cement floors and a mixture of high and low tables that Mark made from H beams left over from their brewery construction. Behind long windows at the end of the tasting room is the brewery, a re-conditioned 30hL Ziemann kit that was retired from its past life as a pilot set in a large Netherlands-based brewing company. The age of the set is evident in the lack of digital equipment and the control station that looks like it’s from a Cold War era film. Behind the glass, everything is in a laboratory-like state of sterility, with stainless steel piping, refrigeration and polished concrete everywhere.
The brew kit boasts an impressive six roller grain mill that feeds directly into mash tun. There is also a separate lautering tun and copper lined kettle, which is what allows them to utilise decoction mashing, a technique where wort is separated and boiled, then returned to the mash tun to raise the temperature and create bolder and richer malt characters in the beer. The thought and care that have gone into the setup is impressive, as the whole brewery can be operated by a single person and has the capacity to do three brews in a day.
The only point where everything slows down is in the long and slow fermentation and conditioning of their beers. The pair are employing open fermentation, a traditional Bavarian method that allows for rapid yeast expansion and consumption of oxygen to result in a very healthy and robust yeast. This means they’re able to repitch their yeast with more consistency and avoid sulfates and other off flavours that can develop in a closed ferment. Once fermentation is nearly complete, each of their beers are lagered at a very low temperature for four to six weeks. This long conditioning period allows the yeast to reabsorb lots of volatiles that are released during fermentation, resulting in beers that are exceptionally crisp and clean.
Boekamp are currently selling their beers through their cellar door and into a couple of pubs in Hobart and Launceston. Production is starting to ramp up and you should start to see the Boekamp Lager, Pilsner and Dark Lager appearing on tap around Tasmania soon. Boekamp will also be looking at canning their beers in the near future, one of the only ways in which they divert from traditional Bavarian technique, but one that shows their commitment to the quality and integrity of the beers they are producing. They’ll also be releasing a hefeweizen early next year, which will be something to keep an eye out for.
For more information, head to the Boekamp Bier website.