Dire economic projections in the ACT seem not to deter would-be hospitality professionals from opening new venues around Canberra, trying to get a piece of the ever decreasing pie. The latest offering is the newly established HopScotch, opened in Canberra’s bustling inner North, Braddon area.
I ventured into this newly established bar on its third day of operation and was immediately blown away with the smell of hickory smoked meats, sharply dressed bar staff and an extensive and ever-growing whisky list. But heck, everyone knows, I’m a beer guy, so thats the important stuff!
Unlike other newly opened operations, Brian Smith, co-owner of HopScotch has steadfastly refused to align himself with any one brewery (even though he has worked for many years with Carlton United Breweries.) This is a refreshing attitude for this new bar.
I sauntered up to the bar and was pleased to see eight taps of amber goodness (well, seven and a cider). The bar doesn’t have any decals (labels over the beer taps) and Brian indicated the reason for this was so people didn’t straight away gravitate to their old favourite.
Customers are encouraged to try some of their beers not seen anywhere else on tap in the capital. My first purchase was the Illawarra Brewery Pale Ale. Having already had their rusty Amber Ale, I approached the pale ale with little trepidation, knowing that if the Amber Ale is anything to go by the Pale Ale will be outstanding.
And it was. Big bursts of citrus hits you like a slap in the face (by face, I mean tongue). The guys at Illawarra Brewery clearly like their Aussie hops and it comes out with this perfectly respectable and honest beer. Talking once more with Brian, he assures me that so far, albeit in the venue’s infancy, that this beer has been their most successful. A definte win for the Illawarra boys and craft beer lovers.
After completing my first beer, I indulged in the Endeavour Amber Ale. Thankfully, this was a “big” amber beer with a heap of malt and hops going through it, elements that appear to be lost on occasion in this style of brew. Its long, lingering taste should not be a turnoff to would-be beer drinkers, just accept that this beer is not as session-able as other beers; maybe start on this before moving onto beers like the Pike’s Pilsner or the Coopers Pale Ale or Celebration Ale (all on tap).
The venue has a generous (very generous) beer garden area that will be ostensibly the place to be once the days get longer and the nights get warmer. With a spit and fairy lights occupying the space, its a welcoming outdoor area, unlike the sterile beer gardens found sporadically around Canberra.
Is the food worth the trip to HopScotch alone? I dunno, I didn’t try it, but if the smell is anything to go by, then most certainly. The whisky range helps reinforce that you need to check out this venue and the beers on tap are exactly what Canberra is crying out for with regards to another craft beer venue.
Hopscotch can be found on Lonsdale Street in Braddon, just outside Civic.
What’s impressing me?
- Honky Tonks – Went in there for a sneaky afternoon beer and found the Bridge Road Galaxy beer on tap. Taste was very good (exactly what you’d expect out of a galaxy hopped pale ale) but please guys, turn down the incense in the place. I want to smell the beer, not smell the equivalent of a 14 year old’s bedroom trying to mask the smell of his weed.
- Boatrocker Brewery – Great craft brewery in Melbourne. I did a recent tasting with three of their beers on my podcast and was very impressed.
- Bentspoke – Another week and another bunch of new beers created by the Richard and the team at Bentspoke Brewery
Adrian Moran has been pouring beers for over nine years and runs a weekly podcast devoted to craft beer