Dominique Schilk started as a waitress, today she’s the manager of Vienna’s most important craft beer bar Hawidere. And there’s still time left for brewing her own beers. Seems like days can’t have enough hours for Vienna’s probably most important beer lady. Liv Fleischhacker talked to her.
Dominique Schilk has worked in the gastro industry for what feels like her whole life. She’s been doing odd jobs within the industry since she was 16 and, after a short time spent at university, she went back to her roots. Beer has been her passion since 2007. She finally took to craft beer like a fish to water in the beginning of 2014 and hasn’t looked back since.
Bringing the idea of craft beer to the Capital
Schilk has worked at Vienna’s Hawidere since 2007 (first as a waitress, now as general manager) and in 2015 she trained to become a beer sommelier and is now a brewmaster for the gypsy brewery Collabs Brewery, whose beers are as well served at Hawidere. Vienna’s beer scene is having a bit of a moment, it’s experienced a wonderful upturn over the last several years – one can almost smell the beer in the air. And Hawidere has played no small part in that. “Alone the amount of people that came to last month’s Craft Beer Fest, it looked like a rock concert. People were queuing for ages, even in the icy cold!”, says Schilk. There’s no definite prognosis to be made about the future of Vienna’s beer culture, Schilk can even imagine a downturn in the current boom, though nevertheless: things will remain exiting. People are realizing what they’ve been missing out on in the last couple of years by continuously ordering the same brew. “I think more and more people will continue to order an unusual beer, instead of their mainstay, on a Saturday night!”.
It’s always about the people!
One thing she loves about beer? “To win people over who aren’t ‘beer lovers’ and to show them the vast array of available beer styles. I just love watching people discover how beers differ from each other and how each one is
unique. I believe that beer offers way more possibilities in terms of food pairing than wine. Or at least: a lot more than seems possible at first glance”. When Dominique Schilk isn’t busy brewing new beers or keeping up to date with her hometown’s brewing scene, she likes to unwind and enjoy a cold brew herself. Preferably in Dublin. Though her favorite beer depends on the mood and on the day, she generally likes a bitter Pils, a not overly hoppy IPA (Birra del Borgo’s My Antonia or Thornbridge Jaipur), or something sour and fruity, like Boon Mariage’s Parfait Kriek.
She thinks of a favorite beer much like a favorite song: you listen to it in an endless loop for days and suddenly you stop. Then, when you hear the song in a club you remember the mood you were in when you last listened to it and, for the length of the song (or in this case: beer), you’re incredibly happy. An analogy we wholeheartedly agree with.
dominique Schilk: let’s make Vienna a new old beer-capital
Over the next ten years she plans to continue working with internationally renowned brewers, conceptualizing and brewing new beers. “We’ve been working on new gastronomy concepts and I’m sure that one or the other will
be realized in the very near future. As a whole, we want to work on furthering Vienna’s beer culture, as well as its image. We want to help turn Vienna back into the beer capital it once was in 1841, when Anton Dreher developed the bottom-fermented lager beers”. Grand plans, but ones that sound entirely reasonable coming out of the Viennese beer sommelier’s mouth.
This article was first published on the Brew Berlin blog.