Craft beer meets exercise: The brewery taking its innovation away from the can


BentSpoke's roller racing. Source: supplied.

Canberra-based brewery BentSpoke aims to bend the rules in everything it does, which it showed off over the weekend thanks to its eye-catching stand at the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS).

GABS exists to showcase specially brewed beers and ciders across Australia and New Zealand, and proudly boasts more than 52,000 attendees across four cities — Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.

SmartCompany attended the Melbourne event over the weekend, which had more than 60 beer, cider and seltzer stands exhibiting.

Standing out in such a large crowd amid hefty competition is no easy feat, so BentSpoke chose to go against the grain — which seemed to be ‘wheels of fortune’ at this year’s event — and set up a bike racing competition instead.

The competition involved three stationary bikes lifted and secured to stands hooked up to TV monitors tracking the fastest time, allowing for three individuals to race at once for varying prizes (and bragging rights).

BentSpoke chief executive Jonathan Ward told SmartCompany the reason behind the “bike roller racing” comes down to a personal passion from the company’s founders.

“Being from Canberra, and biking being so central to a lot of sports in Canberra, our founders would always say they are into ‘bent beers and racing bikes’,” Ward explained.

“The festival is a showcase of new and innovative beers, but we also want to have fun,” he said.

“And as these festivals evolve, they’ve got an aspect of pure beer lovers, [but] they’ve also got people who don’t drink beer and just want to come for the music and for the fun.

“So [the racing] brings a bit of energy, and brings a lot of good natured camaraderie between friends [to the stand],” Ward says — whether they are interested in drinking beer or not.

In fact, it’s better if participants haven’t had much to drink. Ward says the requirement to partake in the race is to have not consumed more than two standard drinks prior to participating.

BentSpoke also runs the races early in the event and then unplug the system as the event reaches the halfway point, and there is an RSA marshal on the stand whose job is to check that no one is affected by alcohol before the racing, Ward explains.

These processes have been in place for quite sometime, because the racing isn’t a new initiative for the company, despite the novelty attraction catching many eyes, and feet, over the weekend.

Ward says the bikes have been used for approximately six years, and are set up on a regular rotation at the flagship brewery in Canberra, as well as on tour at other beer festivals similar to GABS around the country.

“The bikes have become an institution for BentSpoke,” he said.


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