The place had an awesome vibe – hop plants peppered the corners; customers balanced on shiny keg stools; glossy wooden countertops supported the many pots and pints being consumed; and the large stainless steel features, including the fermentation vats, were impressive. It was certainly no dive, and I was happy my sister had suggested coming to Bent Spoke Brewery.
I hadn’t been out in Canberra for many years and the city’s sleepy bumpkin atmosphere of the ’90s had disappeared, replaced now, by a funky, vibrant scene. The ‘Brew Pub’ was located in Braddon, just around the corner from where I’d gone to high school. To say the least, the neighbourhood had changed a bit!
“What would you recommend?” I asked my sister, Claudia.
“They’re all pretty good,” she replied, “why not start with a tasting paddle and try a few first, before you buy a pot? It’s really cool, the paddles are made from parts of old bikes!”
I agreed with her recommendation, and went up the bar. It was quirkily decorated with bicycle paraphernalia and I hazarded a guess that the owners may be bicycle enthusiasts. I ordered a ‘Barley Griffin‘ for Claudia and six samples for myself. I cheekily had a sip of her beer before balancing the load, and walking back to our table.
We sat and drank and chatted for a while. I was thoroughly enjoying my paddle of tasters, all of which were very high quality beers, but one alone, really stood out for me. The Crankshaft.
Now, I am a huge IPA (India Pale Ale) fan at the best of times, but this was truly special. It had a floral nose, with hints of citrus and pine; it was medium bodied with a punch of hops and had a solid malt finish. It also had an alcohol content of 6.9%! Talk about cranking all right!
“I think I’ll get a pot of this one,” I informed my sister, indicating the Crankshaft on the beer menu, with my finger.
“Yeah that one is really amazing, I’ll have one of those too please!” she declared.
I winked at her and sauntered up to the bar, confident in my choice. I returned with two pots of Crankshaft and let the molten amber liquid, tickle my tastebuds and warm my belly. We made mutual noises of appreciation and before we knew it, our glasses were drained and it was Claudia’s shout.
Well, let’s be honest here…you know how this ends – we’re Australian after all! ‘A couple of beers‘ spiralled into three, then four, then, who knows how many! The conversation became choppy and slurred. Memories, in parts, became a little misty.
But one moment remained clear in my mind. I’d taken a brief spell to use the public conveniences. Unfortunately, these were located externally and only accessible by first, navigating a labyrinth of identical doors and bricked corridors. Getting there was not the issue, so much as finding my way back!
After a trial and error approach at opening several doors (one to a cleaner’s closet, one leading out to an alleyway, and one opening into another restaurant altogether) I saw the bicycle wheel I’d been looking for.
Aha! Success! I thought to myself triumphantly, and headed over to the door.
Now, I’m not exactly sure if I pushed, when I should have pulled; or pulled when I should have pushed; but instead of opening the door, I smacked face first into it! Pain shot through the cartilage of my nose and the wheel made a loud ‘clang’ as metal rattled against metal. The noise resounded around the alcove, until I reached out and steadied the wheel with my hand, at which point I felt warm, red drops falling onto my skin. I realised I had acquired a bloody nose, compliments of the spokes! Holding my hand up, to stop it from gushing, I raced back to the table where my bewildered sister was waiting and wondering:
a) why I’d been gone so long, and
b) how on earth I’d managed to get a blood nose!
Fishing out tissues from her handbag, she handed me a wad, and asked what happened. In a muffled, nasally voice I explained, and she, began to laugh.
“I think you need another beer!” she said, and headed for the bar.
By Sarah ©2017