You can’t throw a brick in Sydney without hitting someone pouring, brewing or talking at length about craft beer, but Red Oak Boutique Beer Café has been doing it long than most. It’s been ten years since brewmaster David Hollyoak opened this brewery bar on Clarence Street and a decade devoted to the dark art of on-site brewing has resulted in the best mid-strength beer going round. That’s right, designated drivers, you too can enjoy a long, cold glass of this full-flavoured, burnished copper bitter that clocks in at a moderate 3.5%. In fact, for a sessionable brew that won’t tip you over the edge we can’t think of anything better. Not such a fan of temperance? There are seven other taps to get acquainted with, plus a cider and perry for dessert and a whole lot of rare, seasonal and experimental stuff in bottles. If it’s on offer, secure a glass of the honey ale. It’s a refreshing Australian-style pale ale mixed with Tasmanian honey that smells sweet but tastes fresh and clean. It may call itself a beer café but Red Oak feels more like a European tavern. Velvet curtains, agricultural murals or hop vines and barley fields and a dark timber bar polished till it shines make this an ideal hideout for when the winter winds blow through the CBD. They’re big on hearty shared platters here, or you can order a tasting board with little canapés matched to four beers for $25. Want to go harder? They also host beer appreciation classes on the first Saturday of the month.