Last week I dragged a few friends along to Bent Spoke Brewery. When I say dragged, what I really mean is that I hinted at wanting to check out some new beers and they all heartily agreed. That’s the thing about beer drinkers – unlike wine quaffers – they are pretty happy to drink beer any time any place with or without invitation.
I had heard the hype about Bent Spoke and was pretty excited. So were my mates.
I hate to say – we were a bit disappointed.
I didn’t want to be. The community support behind owner and brewer Richard Watkins and his team is huge. The reported ‘good vibe’ between Bent Spoke and Richard’s previous workplace (and assumed competition) the Wig and Pen makes it all sound like a local brewers love in. And, well, I love to see a local do something well and succeed.
The industrial set up is great and almost makes you feel like you’re part of the process. It is clearly a labour of love and every detail is covered, right down to all of the bar staff having impressive beards and good humours. The guys working behind the bar when we were there were all passionate about the beers and the place.
There has been a lot of talk about the small selection of beers – that with a potential of 17 taps running – there is strong intent to grow. The listing included six choices with one being a cider. At full capacity we would have been OK with that. Two of the beers (the Braddon Bitter and Mort’s Gold) were off, leaving three beers for us to taste. Three beers.
We started with a small Dick Tracy each (in hind sight we should have taken a large as it was the best of the night). It lived up to its write up as a ‘hoppy brown ale’. It went down easily and altogether too quickly!
Next, the Crankshaft which was a winner for some, but not at all for others. Some found it refreshing, others complained of too much citrus. IPA is a bit like that – love it or hate it.
We finished with the Barley Griffin, the Canberran ale finished with a sprinkle of oregano. I kind of wish we’d had a camera on some faces when we took our first mouthfuls. Many of our table muttered ‘What the f***?’ as they shook their heads, unsure of what they had just sampled. We all decided the oregano left us feeling like we were drinking a pizza. When our snacks arrived (45 minutes after ordering on a not very busy night) and we tucked into the olives and salty fries, the Barley Griffin made more sense. I quite enjoyed it, but am a bit of a beer-drinking novice. My more worldly beer-drinking mates did not – at all.
I was on cider tasting duty and if you have a sweet tooth it will be right up your alley. If not, give it a miss.
A couple of our party will go back to sample the Braddon Bitter and Mort Ale, although the Bitter is not expected back on for 10 days (which should be later this week).
None of us wanted to blow negative talk in the direction of this place. The beers clearly have heart and soul brewed into them. But, with a choice of only three beers, our proposed evening of beer sampling ended pretty quickly and we all headed to Debacle for two for one pizzas and a pint.
I do hope Bent Spoke find balance in their brewing to keep the taps on. The sheer weight of demand over their opening weekend must have indeed caught them by surprise and is testament to their abilities at full strength.
If you haven’t been along, it’s worth a trip to Braddon. Just check that they’ve got a good stock in before you go.
BentSpoke Brewing Co. is located on Mort Street in Braddon.