Being the oldest continuously licensed pub and the longest-standing pub brewery in the city, the Lord Nelson has had a long time to perfect its beer game. Sure, there’s a beef between it and Fortune of War Hotel about who exactly is the elder, but there was that whole getting-closed-down-and-demolished-due-to-the-plague thing so the Nelson has the longest, unbroken run, if you want to split hairs. Those interested in the legacies and characters of the old neighbourhood should make sure to take a poke around the picture and plaque laden sandstone walls.
While history’s a nice bonus, we know what you’re really here for is beer. The Lord Nelson team brew their own in the back, and a fresher pint in Sydney is a tall order. There are six mainstay brews: the summery Quayle ale; the Trafalgar pale ale; the full-flavoured, spicy Victory Ale; the Nelson’s Blood for the Guinness fans; and the complex Old Admiral. And the house favourite? The Three Sheets, a bright, golden brew, named by public vote after the sailor’s terminology of being ‘three sheets to the wind’, meaning, of course, being pissed. Good thing that they didn’t end up with Beery McBeer Face instead.
As for what to order when you’re feeling a little peckish, the classics are the go-to. The Nelson's meat pie comes atop a mashed-potato raft in a sea of gravy with verdant, mushy peas spooned over it. The battered fish and thick cut chips is also a popular option, and if you’re left with decision anxiety, why not combine the two in a surf ‘n’ turf situation: a crisp, golden fillet balanced atop the aforementioned meat pie in an unabashed celebration of humble Anglo-Australian cuisine. If you’re not quite ready for that, the Lord Nelson also makes a proper ploughman’s lunch from 3pm, which you can have packed up in a takeaway picnic for you to carry down to the scenic surrounds of the nearby Barangaroo waterfront or Observatory Hill.
During the week this historic old pub is popular with a tailored white-collar crowd, but on a Sunday it’s perfect for a leisurely pint or two close to the city's grandest sights. Score yourself a prime seat from which to observe the curious mix of well-heeled locals and backpackers (when they're allowed back in) who’ve tracked down an ‘authentic’ Sydney experience. And if you want to make a real night of it, the Lord Nelson also offers beds for $210 a pop.