Creative genius at Canberra’s Wig & Pen

The creative genius of brewer Richard Watkins puts Canberra’s Wig and Pen brewpub in a category of its own. Few small breweries in the world could match the diversity and quality of beer currently on tap there.

On a recent visit, the Wig offered 15 beers and an apple cider, all made in the tiny cellars.

To the core of regular beers, Watkins frequently adds seasonal specialties. Most excitingly, there’s a growing range of specialty ales fermented and matured in oak barrels – inspired partly by Watkins’ recent visit to classic European breweries.

The three just released “Brewer’s Stash” ales, all served in brandy balloons, are simply sensational – albeit idiosyncratic styles to sip and admire.

Big Ass Barley Wine (one year in barrel) offers sumptuous, toffee-like malt flavours balanced by hops bitterness. Lunch with the Monks (six months in barrel), inspired by Belgium’s Triple style, is complex, sweet-malt and buoyantly fruity. And Bob’s Armpit (eight months in barrel), modelled on Orval, is an intriguing sweet and sour beer brewed with yeast and a cocktail of bacteria.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011

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