Canberra’s Bentspoke Brewing Co. is a bustling gastropub that features beers brewed on-site in a range of styles and strengths. It’s a popular choice in the city and when I was there, a Thursday night, it was busy, very busy. It’s located in Braddon, an area that I have been reliably told is the cool, hip, hipster end of Canberra.
On entering Bentspoke Brewing Co., it is easy to see a lot of care has been taken to make sure that this is what someone might describe as a ‘modern brewery’. As well as the gleaming tanks behind the bar and the polished silver railings on the stairs, hops, or at least what I assume to be hops, hang from the roof and on one particular wall, so too do bike wheels. They’re covered in plants of course.
We sidled up to the bar and ordered a round. Bentspoke Brewing Co. offer a long list and so as thirst outweighed patience, I found myself gravitating to my go-to beer, the red ale, in this case called the Reflector. Meanwhile, my friend asked the bartender for something fruity and was directed to the Pedal Pale Ale.
Reflector (left, $11.00) and Pedal Pale Ale (right, $9.00)
In both cases, the beers’ descriptions, creamy for the red and fruity for the pale, were eerily accurate. I had been told prior to coming here that the variety of beers at Bentspoke were quite hoppy, and given the decorations hanging throughout the pub, I assume this is a claim they are more than happy to embrace.
My second choice, now having read the beer list and feeling a little more informed, was a Pilsner called ‘Mort’s Gold’. It’s apparently named after someone named Thomas Sutcliffe Mort, but to me the name had more in common with it being named after the street the brewery is on. I blame my own ignorance for that one. Meanwhile, my friend went for the Dick Tracy, a beer that also claimed to be fruity.
Mort’s Gold (left, $11.00) and Dick Tracy (right, $11.00)
By the time we finished the beers, it became clear that food was becoming necessary to justify more beer and so we promptly rustled up the menu. The menu ranged from share plates to traditional modern pub food like steak sandwiches, burgers and an eggplant parmi (or parma, depending on your state of origin). We both chose the burgers, myself the B-Ten burger and my friend the Pork Belly.
At this point I also moved on to my third beer, while my friend sat this round out. This time I chose the Larken’s Brown, a chocolate brown porter which boasted liquorice, fresh ginger, and cacao nibs. It also contained hops called ‘Fuggles’ which to me sounded like a forgotten Jim Henson film. I asked the bartender what they were but was given a polite shrug. I assume it’s a secret.
Larken’s Brown ($11.00)
Not long after, the burgers arrived.
The B-Ten Burger ($19.00)
The B-Ten burger is made of a braised beef brisket combined with bacon and beet slaw, although I didn’t really notice there was bacon in there until re-reading the menu afterwards. The burger was served with chips, or as they were called on the menu Hop Potatoes, along with an undescribed red dipping sauce. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this burger. It certainly wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it was modern and interesting, and with the dipping sauce, provided a solid combination of flavours. It was a little smaller than I expected but it remained surprisingly filling, although I’ll confess that the beers prior could have helped with that one.
On finishing these and our last beers, we walked away feeling pretty fulfilled with what Bentspoke Brewing Co. offered. A brewery can often run into the dilemma where it offers food and beer but it is only good at one of those things, and it is always the hope that the one thing is the beer, but Bentspoke manages to make a great beer, while also having top-quality pub food.
The décor also puts it on the upper scale of the modern brewery and gastro pub and it does so without the coldness that often comes from this style. While it didn’t feel quite like a place I would choose to go to as a local, I would still be very happy to go back there, even if the staff can’t tell me what fuggles are.
Bentspoke Brewing Co.
38 Mort Street
Australian Capital Territory 2612
Mon – Sun: 11:00am to 12:00am