Canberra’s Wig and Pen brewpub re-opened on 12 January, even as workers finished off the brewing area. For the re-opening, owner Lachie McOmish served beers brewed before the original outlet closed on 30 October 2014 and held in cold storage.
Shortly after opening, brewing commenced at the new Llewellyn Hall site. At the same time, Tom Lillicrap headed off for post-doctoral studies, handing brewing responsibilities to Frazer Brown and assistant, Alan Ball.
From a drinker’s perspective, the Wig came through the move and brewing changes unscathed. The stock held in storage remained remarkably fresh for the opening. And the new beers brewed on site since then retain the Wig’s benchmark quality, with subtle tweaks introduced by Brown.
A preview of his coming imperial brown ale, aptly named King of the North, point to an inventive future at one of Canberra’s most congenial, civilised watering holes.
Wig and Pen Duck a l’Orange $7 half-pint
This is a variant on the Wig’s popular Duckmaloi Irish Red Ale. On its way from keg to tap, the rich, malty ale percolates through a glass cylinder (the “hopinator”) loaded with fresh orange peel and cinnamon. The appealing, pungent–fruity aroma turns to a teasing, tart, delicious orange hit on a sumptuous, mildly bitter palate.
Wig and Pen Backnow Extra Special Bitter $7 half-pint
For a time the Wig’s staff responded “not now” to requests for its sold-out Extra Special Bitter. But it’s back now and true to the English cask-conditioned, hand-pumped style: round, soft and warming on the palate with a lingering, balanced hops bitterness – the right beer for a cold winter’s night.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 28 and 29 April in goodfood.com.au and the Canberra Times