James McGown on Buschenschank Brooklyn’s Brews


James McGown, of South Brooklyn Pizza, has recently opened Buschenschank, a pizzeria with Germanic influences, on the corner of Court and Sackett streets. The pub features South Tyrolean cuisine — which boasts some of the world’s finest cold-climate wines. Some selections include pickles, sausages, and meats cured in-house. McGown took a few moments to chat about the eatery’s beer and wine selection.

What’s up with the bar at Buschenschank so far?

We have beer, wine, and liquor. We’ve got some wines from the region — we have a lot of cool stuff from there, especially some Rieslings. I’ve gotten a new appreciation for Rieslings, having spent a lot of time in that region. Some are sweet, some are dry, some are fruity — but they are all pretty good.

For many years, you’ve run traditional pizzerias — what got you interested in this region’s food and spirits?

My in-laws are Germanic. They’re from Austria, all over the place. So I started doing sausages of all sorts, and began learning about the region — about a kind of Italian food and drink that’s been ignored by everone else.

What has the research been like?

I’ve been over there a few times — it’s Italians cooking German-looking food. So you take your very heavy, stick-to-your-bones German stuff in Northern Italy, and it’s lightened up with ricotta.

How did you develop your beer menu?

The brewers were very helpful. There’s been a big upswing in German production and German imports here, so we were able to get some good stuff from Hofbräu and Paulina and smaller brewers, through distributors here.

What will be on the list?

We were also able to get some light beer. But we didn’t need Coronas and Budweisers and the rest of that stuff because we have so much great German stuff available. We have now 16 on tap and plan on adding another eight. We’re definitely going to rotate the tap. We’ll have seasonal beers.

And the wines?

The wine list is really cool because that region has a lot of influence from the French, Germans, Austrians, and Italians. There, vineyards have very short growing season, so the wines the grapes dont get as fruity and floral. They’re different from the southern wines, which are much heavier, bigger, and bolder. They’re drier; they’re crisper. They’re light wines.

What kind of food do you like to drink with?

Depends on the time of the day. I like to start out with a lighter beer or a pilsner or something like that. As the evening progresses, and as the food gets heavier and richer, you go with richer and stronger wines and beers. Pilsner goes with potato chips, sausages or something, maybe farmhouse smoked bratwurst …

Any plans for new cocktails or beverages?

Sixty percent of Europe’s apples come from this region. If you go to this region there are apples everywhere — they’re all over the place. So we’re working with some apple drinks, such as ciders, but haven’t developed those yet.