This week in beer… Bentspoke, Bentspoke, Bentspoke!

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FOR those living under a rock, or perhaps those who prefer their refreshments to be made with grapes instead of hops, Bentspoke Brewery Co. is the latest hospitality venue to open its doors in the nations capital. The bar is the newest project by Richard Watkins and wife Tracy Margrain. Richard of course was the head brewer of the Wig and Pen brewery for 17 malt and hop nauseating years, taking out the 2012 Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) Best Small Australian Brewery award.

Shortly after receiving this award, the dynamic and entrepreneurial couple decided the time was right to go out on their own and create their own venture. In 2012, with another two business partners in tow, plans were put in place for a new venue and in October 2013 the groundwork was laid for what is now Bentspoke Brewery Co., Canberra’s newest and most exciting craft beer venue.

As you enter the venue and look around the tables you can see a plentiful array of beverages, from the apricot coloured Crankshaft orange IPA to the earthy, rich tones of the Dick Tracey (naturally named after partner Tracy). There also appears to be a real following for Adam’s apple, the suitably named cider crushed in Pialligo.

So after one massive weekend of trade (all the more surprising considering it was a long weekend) everything is being reset once more. Head chef Ben Horus spoke about being completely overwhelmed with just how busy the place was in their first weekend, getting to the stage where almost all food had been sold! And that’s not even mentioning the dreaded beer shortages which had been rumoured.

But thankfully this did not become a reality and the beer is still flowing liberally at Bentspoke; and is set to increase in the coming weeks. Richard is “aiming for the end of the year” to have the full range of 18 taps pouring, with “a stout for winter” hoping to be next new beer produced at the venue. With the core range of 5 beers and 1 cider currently on tap, the eventual 18 taps of free-flowing beer and cider is enough to make even the gruffest drinker weak at the knees and giddy with excitement.

With an earlier license (midnight closure) than venues in the city, it’s hoped that the regular clientele will be an eclectic lot. From the Lonsdale Street hipsters, to the public servants making their way home from the ATO and surrounding governement department buildings, right through to tradies, families and those just finding their feet in the wonderful world of craft beer, Bentspoke Brewing Co. hope to cater for all.

With trepidation, some may fear that Bentspoke Brewing Co. may hurt the craft beer venues of Canberra. However, I am inclined to think the opposite. With no discernible marketing behind the venture, people have arrived at the venue to taste something new; that is, a new venue, and new, exciting craft beer. This will only work to aid the craft beer industry in Canberra and presumably, over time, move us towards the craft beer models of Sydney, Melbourne and maybe one day, Portland and San Diego? … well, here’s hoping at least.

What’s impressing me?

  • Bentspoke; OK, so for the most part, every new venue that opens up gets a ‘right off the bat’ big hit in popularity but that first weekend was just ridiculous!

  • Plonk and the world cup; 1,300 beers available at Plonk! Representing beers from EVERY country in the world cup…just about
  • Holgate Brewhouse; Love these beers! I did a recent tasting with James Kelly from Holgate and these beers are outstanding, all with a big punch of malt, creating the perfect winter warming taste

Adrian Moran has been pouring beers for over nine years and runs a weekly podcast devoted to craft beer
Twitter: @ausbeerjourney
Website: www.ausbeerjourney.wordpress.com

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