If you can get it, word of mouth is the most powerful form of all promotion. During the eight months that the team from BentSpoke grafted at getting their building ready to open, the people of Braddon were curious. They were talking, their friends were talking. And by the time of the opening, the message had well and truly spread because on day one, June 6th 2014, there was a queue out of the door within a few hours. By the end of the first weekend, BentSpoke had sold out of two beers and had no food left.
It takes something special to generate this level of interest and success, and doesn’t come without a lot of hard work. Rich Watkins has spent years growing his knowledge and expertise. With multiple awards and accolades under his belt, it is no surprise that creating his own brewery would lead to magic.
Rich and his partner Tracy Margrain carefully crafted and meticulously planned this bespoke space. The building was practically handmade. The plumbing was installed by Rich himself, along with all of the shiny cylinders that form the vital but decorative backdrop to the warm inviting space. He and Tracy chose the chairs, tables and lights, and combining their love of bike riding with their love of beer made for some unusual décor, which works perfectly with the industrial feel.
Their popularity must also come from their love of Canberra and all that it has to offer. They buy the Batlow apples used to make their cider from the local Pialligo Estate and crush them themselves. They give their finished grain to local farmers in return for eggs and Rich often uses native plants in his unusual brews. Rich is constantly searching out new flavours, for rich dark beers in Winter and fruit beer in Summer, not forgetting a spiced brew for Christmas. In the kitchen, they make all the sauces themselves, often from their beer and cider, which is also used to marinate the locally sourced meat.
Their sense of community is evident in everything they do and adds to their success. From chatting to the customers to responding directly to tweets, Rich and Tracy are present and involved. They also have good relationships with other local breweries and name the Wig & Pen and Plonk as key contacts in the local industry. They also relish the quirky edge that The Hamlet brings to Braddon. They sponsor the Canberra roller derby and can often be found biking or bush walking in the local area. BentSpoke is a regular at the Forage and the near future may even see them providing Handmade’s customers with their unique brews. Watch this space…