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Braddon’s new BentSpoke brewpub served 3500 litres of beer in its first three trading days. It opened on Friday, June 6, and by early evening a queue of would-be patrons had formed outside the Elouera Street entry.

Would anyone wait in the cold like that for VB? No way. These people wanted the taste of distinctive beers, not the me-too flavour offered by thousands of big-volume lagers around the world.

Indeed, brewer Richard Watkins’ two strongest, most distinctive offerings remain the biggest sellers – Dick Tracy Brown Ale and Crankshaft IPA. And their fans, says Watkins, represent all ages and all walks of life.

With the financial backing of the family behind Melbourne brewing supplier, Bintani Australia, Watkins and partner Tracy Margrain  created BentSpoke. Watkins says he was the first to use Bintani’s yeast 18 years ago and built a strong relationship with the family in the following years.

BentSpoke Brewing Co Dick Tracy Brown Ale
★★★★
560ml glass, $11
Brewer Richard Watkins describes Dick Tracy as a Belgian-inspired brown ale, using American hops. It has a deep amber-brown colour a full but dry malty palate and a pleasantly sour note in the aftertaste.  In future batches Watkins expects to build in a little more mid-palate sweetness.

BentSpoke Brewing Co Crankshaft IPA
★★★★★
560ml glass, $11
At 5.6 per cent alcohol, Crankshaft is the strongest of BentSpoke’s beers, but it’s not particularly strong for an India Pale Ale.  The ale’s full body easily carries the heady, resiny, citrusy, passionfruit-like hops that make it so distinctive and appealing. Richard Watkins plans minor tweaks for future batches, but this is exciting drinking already.