Inside Brew Nation, Canberra's new craft beer bar

Jil Hogan
Owners of Brew Nation Al Kirk and Shai Lambert.
Owners of Brew Nation Al Kirk and Shai Lambert. Photo: Jay Cronan

Canberra beer has come a long way in the past couple of years - and now a new Civic bar wants to well and truly show it all off.

Brew Nation is the creation of Shai Lambert and Al Kirk - half of the team behind Canberra's tiniest bar Hutch at The Hamlet. Kirk and Lambert, both architects, first met studying at UC, and now work together at Nathan Gibson Judd Architect.

They didn't plan for their venture with Hutch to lead to another venue - but their new bar is set to open its doors in early December.

The venue has nine taps predominantly showcasing Canberra beer.
The venue has nine taps predominantly showcasing Canberra beer. Photo: Jay Cronan

As the name suggests Brew Nation, which faces onto the bus interchange in the Sydney Building, is all about beer - predominantly local brews.

There are nine taps which will be mostly pouring local brews - Bentspoke, Pact Beer, Capital Brewing, Zierholz and potentially Wig and Pen - with special tap takeovers or other Australian beers from time-to-time. They've been working closely with the local brewers to show off what they think is the best the local scene has on offer.

"It's something we tried to push really hard at Hutch as well is that we didn't put any product in there that we hadn't tasted and enjoyed ourselves. So if we didn't like it we didn't care who made it, whether it was the Moet Chandon of beer, if we didn't like it we didn't sell it. So people trust us when we put something on," said Lambert.

The duo have completely stripped back the space, which was formerly a pay day loans spot. What remains is a minimalist space, with a grey and black colour palette, light wood furnishings, a concrete bar and back-lit felt panelling along the walls. Character seeps through the stripped back walls which show off some of the original 1927 build and Canberra red bricks. 

"We inherited a space that had plaster board walls, all multi coloured, and when we pulled all that off is when we discovered this amazing textural wall," said Kirk. 

"To date our removal weight is about 4.8 tonnes of rubble we've removed from this place - just bricks, plaster, old framing, concrete."

And the bar isn't just about beer. They also have a simple curated cocktail list with some quirky additions, and a wine list predominantly also filled with local drops.

Brew Nation is at 102 Alinga Street, Canberra. It will be open Tuesday to Saturday from 4pm.