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Revival of the Pot Belly (Bar)

Emma Bourke

North-siders won’t need to travel far from home for a quality brew anymore with the Pot Belly Bar reviving itself as a craft beer haven in the heart of Belconnen.

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Notorious for being one of Canberra’s oldest bars, management of the 40-year-old venue was recently handed over to three ambitious couples: Lisa Portolan and Joel Baines; Kym Wojcik and Callum Copeman-Fleet; and Angela McKeegan and Ben McDonald.

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The new owners, who’ve kept the bar’s name and most of its original retro timber fit-out, want the new Pot Belly Bar to be about showcasing some of the world’s best beers, whilst respecting the bar’s local history. Part owner and President of Canberra Brewers, Joel ‘Beer Baron’ Baines is keen to seen the regulars return.

“A lot of people will hopefully start to come back and see how we’ve kept traditions going, but [we’ve also] changed up a few things to keep with the times and new products,” he says.

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At Pot Belly Bar, the beer and cider on tap represents some of the best brews from the Australian craft-brewing scene, with brewers such as Two Birds, Bridge Road, Cavalier and Thirsty Crow all making welcomed appearances. For the new publicans, it’s all about providing unique brews, exploring new flavours and allowing patrons to sit back, relax and take it all in.

Says Joel, “For us it’s about slow drinking…learning about what you’re actually drinking and really appreciating it.”

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For those who prefer something a little stronger after a long day, the Pot Belly also offers boutique wines and spirits. Kym Wojcik, who takes care of the Pot Belly’s unique sprits range, says the aim is to make absolutely everything at the Pot Belly “craft”.

“The spirits are quite intriguing for some people because a lot of the names are unfamiliar to them. You can’t give people a taste of a spirit like you would a beer so we will offer spirit tastings matched with food in the future,” she says.

If you’re wondering about the food, a range of gourmet pies (sourced from just up the road in Goulburn) are on offer at the bar with plans to introduce a small food menu in the near future. In the meantime, if pies aren’t your thing, or you’ve a craving for something Turkish to go with your evening ale, in the spirit of supporting local, patrons are encouraged to bring in take-away from the local restaurants on Weedon Close.

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Over the coming months, the new publicans have quite a few events planned with the hope to support the local craft beer and art scene wherever they can. Live music shows, tap takeovers, trivia nights, beer high teas, art-jams and brewers talks are just a few ideas already in the mix.

But in the spirit of it all and to check out The Pot Belly Bar for yourself, then head to their official launch this Saturday. Starting from 12pm, there’ll be DJs, beer tastings and brewers talks throughout the day as well as a live broadcast on Raw FM, hosted by DJ Felixx between 3pm and 6pm.

If you can’t make it to this weekend’s launch, or aren’t a fan of big crowds, make sure you stop by one evening for a quiet game of darts and a pint by the fire, and warm your belly with a brew or two.

The essentials

Place: The Pot Belly Bar
Where: 26 Weedon Close, Belconnen
When: Open 12pm until Monday to Friday and from 4pm Saturday and Sunday.
Web: Find The Pot Belly Bar on Facebook

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Emma Bourke

Emma Bourke is a freelance journalist hailing from the Nations Capital. Pop culture enthusiast and lover of mid-century antiques, when she isn’t attempting to watch an entire television series in one sitting, you can find Emma climbing mountains and scowling at boot camps who steal her spot on the oval. Follow her on twitter @EmmaBourke_ More about the Author

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