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From little things: Brew Nation

Calum Stenning

Apparently, from the littlest things, big things grow.

Al Kirk and Shai Lambert, the men behind the smallest bar in Canberra, The Hutch, have stepped into a larger space. Brew Nation, in the Sydney Building, brings local craft beer and carefully selected cocktails, wines, and spirits to Civic.


“When we opened Hutch, we never thought we’d be in a bar in 12 months time,” says Al. “[Something larger] was aspirational – you want to keep growing and expanding and Canberra craft beer is fantastic. There’s real community support behind it – we’re pretty much exclusively Canberra brewers at the moment.”


There are nine taps, predominantly pouring local beers, from breweries such as Pact Beer Co, Capital Brewing Co and Zierholz. There will also be regular tap-takeovers from guest breweries.


From the décor to the menu, to the set-up of the bar, it’s a simply designed space displaying some of the heritage of the building that houses it. Canberra red bricks peek through the otherwise sparsely decorated walls, with softly backlit grey panels on top.

“The idea of the space is that it’s shared, it’s relaxed, but if you wanted to, you and your partner could sit in the corners where the light is lower and it’s a little more private,” explains Al.


Al and Shai pride themselves on backing the beers they pour, serving nothing they haven’t tried and enjoyed themselves. But those who aren’t imbibers of beer needn’t feel left out – the wine list and spirits shelves are stocked with a selection of the best the region has to offer – the team again keeping things as local as possible, and only going as far as they need for a product.

“Dealing with local suppliers is excellent – often our invoices are handwritten,” says Al. “It’s just easier and there’s never an issue. Baldwin Whiskey once bottled and delivered to us in the same afternoon!”


Brew Nation is set to join the changing face of Civic, with the sticky-floored bars and clubs of old slowly losing favour to sleek and stylish low volume venues.


Al is looking forward to developing the site further, with plans for the under-utilized Verity Lane [running through the Sydney Building] already in the works – a beer garden may well eventually feature in the future, as part of a total revamp for the space.

Co-founder of Brew Nation Al

Co-founder of Brew Nation Al Kirk

“Now comes the exciting part – we get to see how it goes,” says Al. “Our opening hours are from 4pm, so we’re expecting to catch a lot of the after-work crowd.” With doors opening onto the bus interchange, and out-front seating it’s safe to say there will be one or two of missed buses in the future.


the essentials

What: Brew Nation
Where: Shop 1/102 Alinga Street, Civic
Open: 4pm til midnight, Tuesday – Saturday
Web: www.brewnation.com.au

All photography by Martin Ollman


Calum Stenning

Calum Stenning is Her Canberra’s newest and most male (read: only) intern. Three years spent living overseas has given him a renewed appreciation for Canberra life. Every day starts with coffee and the Sydney Morning Herald crossword at a favourite coffee haunt, as he is wary of the perils of dementia, and thinks crosswords are a viable safeguard. If he lives to a dementia-appropriate age (evidence says he won’t), he’ll let us know. More about the Author