Henryk Orlik

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What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I am the brewmaster [at Heiner Brau in Covington, La.] which basically means I am in charge of all the operational decisions for the brewery, recipe creation, scheduling, equipment orders, repairs, etc. Although I was trained as a brewer in Germany, I have always been fascinated with the American beer market. An opportunity arose in 1994 to work in the U.S., and I immediately took this opportunity to bring my knowledge about brewing to the U.S.

What’s new at Heiner Brau?

Recently, we added five new 30-barrel fermenters to the brewery to keep up with the production demand. Additionally, a new part of the increased demand is because we started bottling our Covington Brewhouse Strawberry Ale.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

New Orleans was the beer capital of the south with beers like Regal and Fabacher. Even by just looking at some of these names, you can see there is a strong German connection to this history. Being only 30 miles north of New Orleans, my goal is to bring back the German role in brewing in New Orleans and the excitement that this brings about such a unique industry. I see my feelings confirmed when I talk to a lot of locals that want to learn more about the craft beer industry in the region and are truly excited about it.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

There really isn’t much free time away from the brewery. Being a small brewer, I work seven days a week—the fermentation is not stopping just because the weekend rolls around. Although I don’t work full time on weekends, I still have to check the gravity of fermenting beer and temperature of the tanks, provide tours, and promote the industry.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

Easy question. Although there are endless great combinations, my favorite one is also one of the simplest pairings. Simply simmer some bratwurst in Heiner Brau Maerzen for five minutes and then grill them for five more minutes. Pair this with a nice cold Heiner Brau Kölsch and you are in heaven. I promise you won’t find a better bratwurst.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to brewing?

I think the biggest accomplishment has to be moving to the U.S. with four children. Making this opportunity happen was great, especially since America truly is the land of opportunity.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

Erdinger Weiss and Schierlinger Roggen. I have always been a Weissbier fan and I think the Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen is also very good.

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

Traveling to Prague and Budvar, I had the opportunity to have a Budweiser and a Pilsner Urquell.

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