Bentspoke Brewing owner Richard Watkins on IPA’s evolution: S6E7

The craft beer movement that has taken hold globally over recent decades has been spearheaded by a single beer style – India Pale Ale.

IPA absolutely dominates craft beer in North America, where the movement started, and it has become increasingly popular here in Australia over recent years.

One of the brewers who has been in the box seat to witness and help drive that evolution is Richard Watkins, founder of Bentspoke Brewing Company in Canberra.

Richard has been brewing continuously since 1994. By that I mean he still actively involved in the day-to-day process of making the beer, rather than delegating that to someone else.

By his reckoning, that potentially makes him Australia’s longest serving brewer.

Bentspoke produces a whole host of different IPAs, led by its flagship beer Crankshaft IPA.

But this interview coincides with the latest release of Cluster 8 IIPA, which is part of its ‘Drifter’ series of beers that drift in and out of availability each year.

Bentspoke Brewing Company founder Richard Watkins (right) judging beer at The Indies beer awards

A quick note: As regular listeners would well know, Bintani – the brewing and distilling ingredients supplier – is a major sponsor of the Drinks Adventures Podcast.

Bintani is also a shareholder in Bentspoke Brewing Company so I just want to disclose that conflict of interest so you don’t find out later and think there was anything cynical about this episode, which really isn’t the case.

Bentspoke is one of Australia’s largest independent craft breweries and Richard Watkins was bound to come up as a guest one way or an other.

And as someone who has been brewing for as long as he has, I thought Richard was about the best person to answer some questions about the evolution of IPA in Australia, including:

  • How it’s brewed;
  • What are the different styles of IPA in Bentspoke’s range;
  • What he thinks about the style splintering into many sub-genres; and
  • Whether it is always best to drink IPAs as fresh as possible.

Our conversation started with Richard recalling his earliest memories of IPAs in Australia.

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