They say you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. Sometimes, I guess, that means habits, and
sometimes it may refer to the native accent. The degree to which that is true varies widely, I suspect; but I’m betting that the old saw’s veracity is more likely if the country boy is remembering good beer, and the country roads that take him home are in Germany.
And if you meet Nico Shulz of the Schulz Bräu Brewing Company, or just get a good swallow of his beer, you’ll thank God he’s a country boy who missed the sudsy comforts of home enough to recreate them here and share.
When Nico first moved to the US to study food science in Lexington, KY, he says he quickly began to “miss my good German beers, so I started making my own.” Later, when visiting his soon to be wife in Knoxville, he was disappointed he “couldn’t really find a brewery that I liked, at least, none with German beer. Of course, it was some years ago and there weren’t many breweries around. So I started to think that Knoxville needed a German brewery.”
The result of Nico’s contemplations is Schulz Bräu Brewing Company located just off Central on Bernard Avenue. It’s an impressive facility and beautiful, too. The exterior is imposing and belies the comfortable surroundings and pristine brewery inside. Though he’s a passionate beer man in mission and vocation, Nico trained as a scientist – and his brewery, one might say, reflects the discipline of his discipline. And while science and tradition may sometimes make uneasy bedfellows, at Schulz Bräu, they’re like horse and carriage.
That’s one of the reasons we love it.
At Tomato Head, we try to keep our taps of beer made close to home, so it’s been a great time for us as Knoxville’s brewers have fruitful and multiplied. And that’s never been truer than this month when Nico was finally able to contribute Schulz Bräu to our taps.
That makes us happy in lots of ways. First, of course, the closeness of the beer’s birth means that it’s fresh and also means that we get to celebrate our favorite town with every pull of the tap handle.
It doesn’t hurt, of course, that Nico makes an authentic and outstanding German Pilsner that’s crisp and refreshing, and one that makes good music with all our food in addition to tasting pretty fine all by itself, too.
But one of the brightest jewels in Nico’s crown is his commitment to the ideals of the Reinheitsgebot. That mouthful of a word refers to the German Beer Purity Law. Nico describes it as, “the oldest food safety law in the world. It basically dictates that you can only use four ingredients to make beer: water, hops, malt and yeast. So that’s all we use – we’re not adding any flavoring, and we add no chemicals to it. Everything is brewed traditionally – no preservatives nothing like that. It makes brewing quite harder and less efficient, but I prefer the traditional way – it’s the healthier way.”
It’s no secret to beer lovers that beer can be made with any number of artificial additives, Nico estimates that “there are dozens of chemicals
approved by the FDA that you can add to your beer: things to give a higher yield, a longer shelf life -but it’s just not worth it to me. You can add color, antioxidants, and there’s even stuff you can add so the kettle doesn’t boil over, but I’d rather have it boil over than add chemicals to my beer. There’s just no need for it – it’s easier and more efficient, yes, but that’s it. And that’s unhealthy, so we don’t use them; we just want to make something that we take pride in.”
And that’s something we take pride in pouring.
PROST! And Zum Wohl, too!