Tap Tales: Costa Nikias, La Sirène Brewing

Co-founder of Melbourne-based La Sirène Brewing, Costa Nikias first started out in wine. While studying winemaking, he met fellow co-founder of La Sirène, James Brown. After working as a brewing consultant for many years, Nikias founded his inner-city brewery in 2011 which is dedicated to making Belgian-style farmhouse and wild beers. Most recently, his brewery partnered with Dinner by Heston Blumenthal to release a farmhouse style ale brewed with wild yeast to be exclusively served in the restaurant. Here he tells db why he chose to move into beer, why he admires the work of New Belgium Brewing and how he often gets caught listening to Miles Davis in the barrel room.

When did you first get into beer?

I got more seriously into ales when I was a winemaker, drinking a lot of beer when winemaking is sort of a given..

Which brew sparked your love of beer?

Farmhouse-style (including Saisons) beers from breweries such as Fantome & Brasserie Bastogne along with more recently Brasserie De La Senne.

What would you be as a beer?

Not sure on that one, probably a Wild Fermented hybrid farmhouse ale co-fermented with classic Australian Chardonnay grapes. Too much detail perhaps…

What is your favourite hop variety and why?

Hops are wonderful, not as amazing as yeast and bacteria when making beer in our opinion but if I had to choose, I would choose a blend of Enigma from Hop Products Australia (free plug) and Ekuanot (formerly Equinox).

Who is your inspiration in the beer world?

Great question, there are so many in the current beer industry, I very much respect what the guys at New Belgium are doing in Colorado along with our friends also in the Northern Hemisphere such as Jester King, Jolly Pumpkin and Fonta Flora. These guys inspire us to no end with their energy and commitment to the category of saisons and farmhouse ales.

Where are you happiest?

I am happiest at home with my wife and two boys watching Carlton win a game with a farmhouse ale in hand. This doesn’t happen to often unfortunately…

What is your greatest vice?

Listening to Myles Davis while in the barrel room.

What are the best and worst things about the beer industry?

The beer and the beer, it’s about the product at the end of the day.

What is your proudest achievement in beer?

Being able to make farmhouse ales with local provenance that people buy and enjoy is probably it along with being able to focus on a style of beer and drill down further to better explore it.

What is your ultimate beer and food pairing?

I am a simple sort of guy when it comes to food. Simple food done extremely well very much floats my boat so freshly caught local Calamari or Portarlington Mussels with our classic Saison I cannot go past. Then again with our Table Beer Saisonette is a great match.

Which beer style do you find it impossible to get along with?

Well being a farmhouse-focused brewery in Melbourne we really only focus on farmhouse styles. Wheat beer can be challenging however from previous experience.

If you weren’t working in beer, what would you be doing?

Making wine, making cheese or eating for a living.

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