As one of the oldest parts of the city, the Rocks has sandstone ale houses and haunted terraces to spare, but they've been low on Tex Mex party vibes, until now. El Camino Cantina has just opened down on Argyle Street, and they're packing as much neon signage, hot sauce and frozen Margaritas as they can into the old Ananas site. The menu is all about tasty hot pockets in shapes and sizes, so you've got tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, nachos, enchiladas and burritos. Of course if you fancy yourself as fireproof they've also got a ghost chilli BBQ burger and chicken wings made using the world’s hottest chillies. More sugar than spice? The hot churros tossed in cinnamon sugar and served with vanilla salted caramel and the spiced dark chocolate pudding with dulce de leche has your name on it. Cool the burn with Margaritas anyway, Mexican beers, craft brews, sangria and a dedicated tequila and mezcal menu. And for all you crazy kids who've just got back from a US jaunt, these guys are all over the complimentary chips and salsa. To keep spirits high there'll be a resident mariachi band, rock'n'roll DJs on Friday and Saturday nights, and on the 27th of every month they'll pay tribute to a famed member of the 27 Club. Working within a budget? It's all about timing. Head here for Margarita Mondays, two-dollar taco Tuesdays, wing Wednesdays, five buck beers on Thursdays, fajita Fridays, student specials on Saturdays and recovery Bloody Marys on Sundays.
They say the only thing you need to get a date is another date, and the same thing goes for small bars. Once you’ve got one it won’t be long before there’s a collection of pocket-sized licensed establishments lining the streets. Don’t believe us? Just look at Redfern. So far we’ve got a wine bar, gin bar, and five-star art bar, not to mention two casual cocktail spots and somewhere to sing sea shanties. And now they can add a dedicated craft beer saloon to the list. The Angry Pirate has set sail for calmer waters and in its place you’ll now find the Noble Hops. It’s a stripped back, lo-fi neighbourhood haunt where the love of beer is what binds their customers. Seriously, they have wine available but they don’t even put it on the list – all that page space is reserved for the 40+ craft brews by the bottle. Up above the bar on the menu board is where you’ll find the current tap list, and don’t expect those ten beers to be run of the mill – the Noble Hops is owned by a home-brew fanatic we’re told, and so there’s no space for mediocre beverages. On our visit there is a South Australian pale ale and a locally brewed lager, but that’s all the run up you get before you move onto the big hitters. Like your beers so bitter and hoppy it feels like you’ve licked a tyre? You will experience no buyer's remorse after a glass of the Kaiju Compendium Monastic red IPA. For something that is more restrained in its approach go for the beautifully balanced tasty malts in the milk stout from
We realise being spoiled for choice is a nice problem to have, but sometimes you really just can’t decide if you want a schnitzel and a stein or a pizza and wine. Fortunately there are people out there who understand that these decisions can cripple the best-laid dinner plans, and have decided to solve this culinary conundrum with a dual venue. That’s right, folks; the famous Bavarian Bier Cafés and Fratelli Fresh are joining forces to create a quick-fire Bavarian-Italian dining hub. The new World Square venue is set to open on Sunday October 16 and they’re packing the bar with house-brewed craft beers, German and Italian brews, wines, and schnapps, plus during the day there will be a coffee cart and gelato cart for those sweltering days in World Square. You’ll be able to bring your whole crew, lay claim to a table out in the outdoor garden dining area and then branch off, so that some in your party can head off and order a Margherita pizza covered in stretchy mozzarella, while others opt for a bratwurst or a schnitzel. Then you can all reconvene to choose from the 20 beer taps. They’ll have the full range of beers from the Urban Craft Brewing Co on tap: the Crafty Bavarian range, which includes the Munich lager, Hop Dock wheat beer, Blonde Moment low carb lager, and the Devils’ Daughters Double IPA; the Crafty Sisters range that includes the Bella Birra Italian Lager, Vixen of Venice pilsner and Flamin’ Hellcat Mexican lager; plus more Bavarian beers in bottles. Save cas
There’s a Bavarian bier oasis in the middle of the Rocks that has been fixing the nine-to-five blues with one-litre steins of fresh Bavarian brews, warm pretzels and sausage platters for decades now. It’s also a top spot for a group get together. Unlike some of the cupboard-sized establishments around the CBD, the Munich Brauhaus beer hall is cavernous so you can bring your whole team with you. Make it a Friday and for bookings of six or more you’ll get a complimentary paddle of schnapps for your trouble. For fiscally sensible players, you want to aim for an early evening visit to take full advantage of the two-hour happy hour from 4pm to 6pm when there are six-dollar beers to be drunk, and on Thursdays hot dogs are only a fiver. Those are properly cheap thrills right there. These guys host the most famous Oktoberfest celebrations in the city, but every day can be a Bavarian beer party thanks to the daily oompah pah band, lederhosen-clad waitstaff and a penchant for schnitzel done nine ways including a half kilo version and one with beetroot and a fried egg on top. Pull up a pew, park your elbow bar-side or take up digs at a long table and drink into the night. Prost!
There are definitely some things in Sydney that are just for visitors. Locals are unlikely to shop for Ugg boots down in the Rocks, or seek out a kangaroo pendant with an opal set in its back. But it pays to take a closer look at the tourist districts of our city, because every now and again you unearth gold from under the mountain of clippy koala souvenirs. Take King Street Wharf, for example. If you dismiss it as a tourist trap you’ll only be denying yourself all the harbourfront beers and good times on offer at the Sydney outlet of Beer DeLuxe. In yet another case of good Melbourne things coming to Sydney (Belle’s Hot Chicken, we’re looking at you), the craft beer fanatics behind Beer DeLuxe have taken over a space right at the north end of King Street wharf, just before Barangaroo begins, and have set up a two-level temple to fermented fun. How much fun, you ask? Between what’s in the fridges and the 20 taps they’ve got 150 brews available. TL;DR? It’s a lot. People swear that when it’s 110 in the shade the only salve is a cider over ice, but those people obviously haven’t tried the Royal Jamaica alcoholic ginger beer. This tropical brew is spicy and sweet and may just be replacing Red Stripe Jamaican lager as our Caribbean drink of choice. You didn’t come all this way to drink something pedestrian, but for our tastes the 4 Pines Lemon and Melon witbier is a little too out there, so we reel it in with the Ekim grapefruit Viking IPA where the bitter citrus perfectly comp
There was a time when a pub serving anything more exciting than a pilsner was unheard of in this city, but what a difference half a decade makes. Suddenly even your backstreet local is making sure they’ve got a Young Henrys or Stone and Wood on tap, and maybe a Lord Nelson and something from 4 Pines in the fridge. When it comes to full-throated support of craft beers, few do it better than the Union Hotel in Newtown. In 2015, the pub’s 22 taps played host to over 300 different brews. This year they’re planning to simmer down and aim for about 200 to ensure that when you find a favourite you get to taste it again before it leaves the building. On our visit they’ve got beers from Akasha, Modus Operandi, Nail, Hopdog, Rocks, Hart and Hound, Sierra Nevada and Van Dieman in the house, and before you get all “dude, where’s my lager?”, there’s Reschs too. Remember the stark dining room up the back? General manager Luke Hiscox has presided over a spruce-up and now it’s a much snappier spot for a counter meal, and they’re packing an impressive list of 24 gins dominated by Australian distillers too. If juniper spirits aren’t your jam they’ve also got 35 whiskies on the go. The bistro here has always been popular, but it’s vastly improved now that Hiscox has brought the operation in-house with Big Arties running the kitchen. Now a massive serve of tenderloin kangaroo slices, potatoes, black cabbage and beetroot with a pink peppercorn sauce is as comforting as a home-cooked meal with
Built in an old bank, this opulent beer hall boasts high ceilings, white columns, plenty of booths and quite a few punters. There’s all manner of beer glasses tinkling and shining on racks around the bar. Do you love yourself a wheat beer? The collection is very impressive here. Not only do they have the house-brewed wheat and barley blend called Hop Dock, but there’s also the famed Franziskaner weissbier on tap and nine in bottles including an alcohol-free version for designated drivers. To really get a feel for the range you can get a tasting flight of four 150ml pours of the Crafty Bavarian range for $12, or opt for the imported biers for $13. Maybe do both over an afternoon so you can compare and contrast. To keep you on an even keel you’ll need to prime your stomach with a giant schnitzel, pork knuckle, or a spice-rubbed tri-tip steak.
It’s almost a shame beer gets you drunk. We consider this while poring over the beer list at the this freshly renovated pub in Alexandria, reckoning that if it didn’t we’d down every last brew, from the sweet, malty Hunter Beer Co. witbier through to the palate-cleansing bite of the Feral Hop Hog IPA. Being spoiled for choice is a nice problem to have, and with the rise of dedicated craft beer bars around Sydney, it’s becoming endemic. We’re big fans of the Rocks Brewing gang here. In fact, we like their beers so much we got a keg to welcome our new editor to the building. And to make accessing the good stuff even easier the Rocks Brewing Co have opened their very own pub. Unlike their brewery bar further down in Alexandria, the Lord Raglan plays well with others. Home ground advantage is given to the Rocks brews, naturally, and you don’t hear us complaining about more places to get the Boxer red ale on tap, but the other six taps are a rolling showcase of the best craft beers on the market. They only order a keg or two of each, so this is the place to seize the day and drink till it’s gone – it moves so quickly they don’t even bother putting labels on the taps. You’ll have to keep an eye on the slate labels suspended over the bar to see what’s on offer. They run a tight operation here. They took a derelict pub, gutted it and let only the bare essentials back through the heavy wooden doors. There is a bar constructed from old doors with 12 taps; fridges for the fancy bottl
Beer by the beach? You betcha. Placed right on Manly Wharf, this Bavarian Bier Café is a great place for a sneaky beverage if you’re waiting for your ferry, or simply just a great place to settle in for an afternoon session. The main focus here may be swinging steins, but you can’t beat a giant pretzel. Twice the size of Germany and studded with fat salt crystals, they’re the perfect combination of salty-sweet to go with your drink. If you’re going to need something more than a baked snack these guys cater to both the old-world favourites like pork knuckle, pork belly and wood-smoked frankfurters as well as a more modern offering that focuses on seafood. There’s a clam chowder, salt’n’pepper squid and a fancy fish and chips made with blue eye cod. Whether you go for the classics or something lighter doesn’t matter when it comes to drinks. It all goes with beer. They’ve got the full range of Crafty Bavarian house brews like the Hop Dock wheat beer, Butcher’s Bride pale ale and Munich lager on tap, plus beers from the famous Bavarian brewers, local wines and a dedicated schnapps menu.
In spite of its proximity to the CBD, Pyrmont has never boasted the same expansive boozing scene that you’ll find in other areas of inner Sydney. There are high class cocktails to be had at Sokyo Lounge and Black Bar at the Star, but good places for a pint of craft beer and some pub food were light on the ground until the Quarrymans Hotel got a serious makeover. The macrobrewed lagers have gone to that big megapub in the sky. In their place are 24 craft beer taps and one handpump for real-ale enthusiasts. Those coppery valves are now supplying Pyrmont with anything from Ekim’s super-refreshing After Battle pale ale through to a strawberry wheat beer, a blueberry hefeweizen or an alcoholic ginger beer for people yet to acquire the taste for hops and barley. Inside, they’ve gone for an artisan workshop look with bare floorboards, a sandstone bar with a timber top, brown leather benches under the shabby-chic window frames and brass-pipe footrests under the bolted-down tables. On one wall is a neon sign declaring that ‘in hops we trust’ and with a double-hopped IPA in hand, so will you. Paralysed by all the options? They do a tasting paddle for $15 so you can try 170mL of the four most intriguing brews. You’ll have to fight the after-work crowds to get a seat in the triangular, chipped brick courtyard lit by garlands of lights. But the best seats in the house are actually the ones at their semi-regular rooftop keg parties. Grab a ticket and drink in the view over Darling H
Melbourne's best craft beer venues
Want to down big tall, delicious beers this summer? Here's where to head when you're down in Melbourne