Lachlie McOmish, co-owner of Canberra’s Wig and Pen, has one of the more unusual job combinations in the brewing world. When not running a brewpub, he’s an adviser to the Australian Country Party (a rural political party) on transportation issues, including drunk driving.
The Wig and Pen is named after an ancient British club, and its name is apt. The place is home to all sorts of people, and many wear a wig when arguing cases before the Australian courts or wield a pen when writing their dissertations. “We have everyone from unemployed people to professors to senior public servants coming here,” McOmish said.
McOmish wants the Wig and Pen to be a modern version of an Australian pub from 1900, a place where people can relax, talk, and enjoy all sorts of music while trying nine different cask-conditioned beers. But what makes the Wig and Pen a memorable place are the students, faculty, and postdoctoral fellows of the Australian National University.
ANU students come to the pub for all sorts of reasons. Many compete in the hotly contested Monday quiz nights, where teams are rewarded with free beer if they can name the capitals of all the countries in Africa, or the five parliamentarians sacked by King Charles I in 1642. All sorts of campus clubs meet there, from the Australian-Chinese Friendship Society to a capella choirs. And one mathematician, McOmish said, routinely stops at the Wig and Pen for three pints of doppelbock with lunch, before he returns to the office to continue his research on chaos theory.
“We’ve been here only five years, but we’ve already become an institution. People come to uni (university) and then get jobs as junior computer programmers or junior civil servants, and they want to see this place stay as it was.”