The Wig and Pen, in Canberra’s happening (sub – check this) Civic district, is probably my favourite pub in Australia. It’s pretty nondescript from the outside, so nondescript that on my first attempt to find the place I missed it entirely. When you get inside it’s nothing much to talk about either – it looks like a dull suburban English pub and it’s not particularly huge. But the beers. Oh, the beers.
Richard Watkins brews 10 “regular” beers and a bunch of seasonals out the back of the pub (you can see some of the workings around the corner from the kitchen area) and they’re some of the best beer I’ve tasted since I’ve been here. Don’t just take my word for it: its recently been named the best small brewery in the country at the annual Australian International Beer Awards. There’s always a couple of beers on handpump, and they’ve also got one of those Randall things to infuse beer with extra hops, fruit, fudge, you name it.
On this particular trip, which I think was my first and in the company of Louise, I drank three beers. Original notes, and 2012 commentary.
51. Wig and Pen Hopinator
5.2%, very light coloured, hand pumped, subtle hop flavours, like a summer ale in Uk. Nice.
I recall drinking a pint of this in about two minutes. It had been so long since I’d drunk a pint of low-carbonated, English-style ale that I just couldn’t stop myself. It made me think very much of my last beer in Blighty, although a bit hoppier.
52. Wig and Pen IPA
Another pint, another from a hand pump, and another winner. This one is a bit stronger and I think I was feeling the double effects of finding great beer and it marking the end of two days with in-laws. Twin waves of relief flooded over me and I was lost for words.
53. Wig and Pen Cream Stout
(not hand pump) smooth, roasty. Like Guinness should be but never is.
Well, almost lost for words. But the words I did come up with were straightforward and to the point.
Whenever I’m in Canberra I try to make a pilgrimage to The Wig and Pen. Worryingly, they’re likely to be moving later this year and who knows where they might end up. Get there while you can.
(The Wig and Pen used to have a home-made website that was charming and informative. I think they let the domain name lapse, as this looks a bit dodgy)