We're spoiled for choice when it comes to venues serving craft beer in this city, but there's something extra special about drinking a beer in the place it was made, which is why you should make tracks to these excellent breweries serving the best craft beer Sydney has to offer.
Some breweries like to keep their cellar-door operation small, but if you’re fortunate enough to have a spacious warehouse behind the Mona Vale Hotel for your brewery, you may as well make the most of it, which is what the crew at Modus Operandi have done. Wednesdays through Sundays you can slake a savage thirst with a seven-serve tasting paddle for $25, but visit on a Wednesday for trivia, Fridays for beer cocktails or live music on weekends. And nothing lays the foundations for a day of craft brews like a house burger.
There’s a new stop on the great brewery bar crawl, and it’s from a familiar name in the craft beer game – the Grifter Brewing Co. Like every craft brewery, Grifter’s three owners, Matt King, Glenn Wignall and Trent Evans started off as home brewers and graduated to brewing in their kitchens to gypsy brewing in the Young Henrys facilities when they weren’t in use. Pretty quickly they purchased their own tank and installed it at the Newtown brew house, and then when Young Henrys upgraded their facilities Grifter purchased the lot.
We have to assume that the rest of Sydney is low on sausage dogs, rock’n’roll babies and beardy gents, if the crowd at Young Henrys every weekend is anything to go by. This Newtown brewery bar is as popular today as the day it opened, and the curative power of their cloudy cider remains an excellent way to get back on the horse if you’ve overdone things the night before. A revolving line-up of food trucks keeps hunger at bay and sometimes a mobile record shop drops by for extra Inner West cred. If you’ve got your heart set on an afternoon of chat and fresh beers, get in early – tables here fill fast and stay that way until last drinks.
Colonial Sydney’s love affair with locally made liquor is a long-standing one, which is why we consider it particularly fitting that Camperdown’s brewery bar is set up inside what was once a winery – the wax-lined walls of the wine tanks now enclose alcoves of cinema seats and little tables. Fridays through Sundays there are food trucks catering to your snack needs, and you can order pizzas to the bar after 5pm. The majority of the beers on tap are house brews, but they share the love with a few guest-star beers, not to mention their community kegs initiative where they brew a beer and donate the profits from the sales to local charities and fundraising efforts.
This bare bones brewery down in Marrickville is keeping things simple with a brewery operation out the back of their Sydenham Road warehouse, and a tasting bar out front. Set up by two American gents who started out with an American West Coast pale ale and then swiftly moved onto experimental brews, Batch is beer nerd Nirvana. Depending on when you visit they might have a milk stout made with Campos coffee for an extra kick, or perhaps a few bottles of their Christmas in July porter brewed with star anise, allspice, vanilla and ginger. Haven't yet developed a taste for dark beers? Try the Alice, an American-style wheat beer that is light, bright and just a little cloudy.
Your locavore credit points are going to be at an all-time high after you start spending your Sunday arvos at the latest brewery to open its doors on the Northern Beaches. The second instalment from the 4 Pines team is a much more industrial affair than their famous Manly brewpub. Here it’s all about sports on the projector, half pints of super-fresh beers (there’s ginger beer and wine on tap too) and pizza pies – little hot pockets made from pizza dough, filled with pulled pork or black beans.
A brewery bar serving a breakfast burrito packed with scrambled eggs, bacon, guacamole, beans, chipotle mayo and crunchy potato gems might just be the closest thing we’ve found to a guaranteed hangover cure in the city. Plus, a little hair of the dog never hurt, and the Rocks golden ale is exactly the sort of refreshing brew that will have you back on top in no time. You can get a behind-the-scenes look at how beer is made with the weekly brewery tours, and if you’re low on funds their happy hour runs from 4-6pm Monday to Thursday with $6 pints. Bargain!
The beers don’t get any fresher than the ones from the brewery tasting bar, but you’ll have to time your visit with Swiss precision – it’s only open Thu 4-7pm, Fri 3-7pm and Sat noon-7pm. Make the most of your early mark by grabbing a stool and ordering up a tasting paddle in the pared back, coastal vintage warehouse. The playlist is classic rock and the Black Bunny is a toasty dark ale that’ll banish the winter from your bones. They name all their beers after mates, so you can toast the AFL-loving MP with the Albo American light lager, or a golden ale named after a local plumber. They also have a cider on tap for anyone who struggles with barley beverages.
So lazy you've ruled out a pub session and a movie because of the distance between the two destinations? 4 Pines is your venue. The craft beer-focussed drinkery above Manly Cinemas is also your venue if you just want decent suds, good pub grub, and to chill out free from either aggression or stuffiness. Décor is uncluttered and minimal: banquettes next to windows and tall tables and accompanying tall stools in the middle of the room. A microbrewery vat behind glass and notes on fermentation decorate the back of the room.
A lug of seawater might not quench a thirst, but a few buckets in the brew of Nomad Brewing Co’s limited-edition Salt and Pepper “Freshie” grose give this historic, German-style beer a savoury flavour that’s perfect with a bowl of crinkle-cut chips. And you’d better believe it’s the very same water you cough up after going five rounds with the breakers at Freshwater Beach. We sincerely hope the grose is still on tap when you visit this tiny tasting room in Brookvale. If not? It’s still worth ordering a tasting paddle and settling in on the pallet furniture out in the car park.