26 June 2014

Left wanting at Bent Spoke

| tobefair
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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.


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smiling politely1:36 pm 27 Jun 14

Visited last week with an old friend who was visiting from Sydney and concur with the broad thrust of the comments here. We each had a Barley Griffin and a Crankshaft and found them most agreeable.

I know that the focus is on the drinks, but the food is problematic – the burger was ordered and, aside from taking around 30 minutes to arrive (which puzzled Mr Sydney, though I assured him it was pretty much par for the course in the Capital), was distinctly under-sized for the $19 price tag. I’ll go there again for a drink but will aim to eat beforehand.

Conan of Cooma said :

I’m still trying find a good tavern with mulled wine and roast mutton.

does the george, at gold creek, not offer this option? might be worth an explore – though wrong side of town for a cooma conan…

i, too, have been waiting for the hype to simmer a little before lobbing in to try the bent spoke. are the pint prices comparable to the wig? (i’d be there for the bevvys more so than the food…)

Oh, and the Mort’s Gold is a Pilsner, not an ale.

I’ve had one look so far at Bent Spoke. I tried the Braddon Bitter and the Barley Griffin and liked them both. I thought the malt-bitterness balance and low carbonation on the bitter was spot on. The oregano-infused pale ale was something I wasn’t sure I’d like, but reckon it worked well.

Ended up brewing an oregano-infused brown ale after tasting Richard’s effort, doing the oregano at the end of the boil.

I didn’t try the food. The $7.50 / $11 price split might seem a bit high for the beers, but these are hand-crafted beers you won’t find anywhere else, put together by on of Australia’s best brewers. Fair prices, for mine.

patrick_keogh8:59 am 27 Jun 14

fromthecapital said :

I wasn’t blown away by the beers, put on a wheat beer and then we can talk…

So you’d prefer something like a Weihenstephaner Weissbier? Well even Kloster Weihenstephan had a patchy beginning. I found a newspaper article from 1041AD that said the beer was ordinary and the food too plain. They lifted their game over the last 900 years eh?

P.S. I made it up about the newspaper.

patrick_keogh8:52 am 27 Jun 14

Conan of Cooma said :

I’m still trying find a good tavern with mulled wine and roast mutton.

Some would say that is a mutually exclusive set of conditions. Just joking. Somewhat. 😉

“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.”

You obviously need to hang around more championship grade wine drinkers. Pfft, amateurs

Conan of Cooma5:41 pm 26 Jun 14

I’m still trying find a good tavern with mulled wine and roast mutton.

fromthecapital4:08 pm 26 Jun 14

I wasn’t blown away by the beers, put on a wheat beer and then we can talk…

I had lunch at BentSpoke last week, having waited until the likely teething issues were sorted out. I had the Barley Griffin and I thought it was fantastic – total smack in the face awesomeness. So much more lively and interesting than the Wig and Pen brews (which are a zillion times better than the commercial stuff).

The food service was erratic – which I expected – but I thought the menu missed the mark. The beers deserve a better set of food than that on offer – something more like Debacle’s menu would fit better.

Go back and drink more beer? Oh, OK then. We really wanted to like it and could see the potential. Will make sure all the beers are on next time though. I didn’t have an issue with no tvs and didn’t really notice. I think if you’re going somewhere to watch sport you’re after a pretty different vibe in any case.

Every new place has it’s teething problems. You normally get the masses of people going combined with the development of their processes and staff learning. Pretty much what you described here..

I would hope if you intend writing posts such as this that you will go back in a few months for a balanced viewpoint and let is know if they improve.

patrick_keogh10:58 am 26 Jun 14

I’m glad that there are no TVs, there are lots of other places to go if you want to watch TV. Having one or two TV-free places can’t be a bad thing. The beers are pretty well priced, I guess they are still finding their feed in the food department though. There was even a noticeable improvement between my first visit (opening day) and this Sunday in terms of food quality, probably because they were not so rushed. On Sunday I had the ribs for lunch which were good, although still a little expensive in terms of value for money.

James McMahon10:50 am 26 Jun 14

I was also uninspired , overpriced and no TV’s to watch sport.

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