Header image courtesy of Patty Jansen (via Pixabay)
They say, “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today—it’s already tomorrow in Australia!” And the people Down Under, in all likelihood, are chugging beers, grinning, and having the time of their lives. In Australia, the rivers flow with a fizz that inspired the lofty, romantic claim that their beers are brewed on the edge of the planet. There’s something about the beers from Down Under that keep the punters coming back for more. Is it the golden amber colour? Or the malty palate balanced with spicy hop aromas with the refreshingly clean finish? Whatever it is, the one constant is that everyone seems to be having a good time.
Whether you like to sip on something unique or stick to the classics, in Australia, you don’t have to go far to find a pint of original craft beer. Sydney’s ever-evolving craft beer scene boasts breezy breweries from the hippest neighbourhoods as well as laid back beer gardens with edgy brews. Here are the best breweries in Sydney that pack a punch and are certainly not be missed.
We must say (with envy!) that the locals here are pretty darn spoiled for choice when it comes to places to drink the best and freshest beers. Gone are the days when pale ales came to be appended as a name shrouded in mystery and looked upon with hesitation. Sydney’s beer landscape is now truly world-class, and a large part of the credit can be attributed to the city’s top brews like this one.
What started as a humble tripartite partnership at home is now one of the biggest names on Sydney’s beer circuit, drawing crowds from far and wide. Their massive Marrickville brewery is a must-stop—not just for the seasonal releases of the smoky, toasty flavours of pale ales but for their unique concept that allows you to drink all you want at your own pace, a practice called tray tasting. Sometimes, the space hosts handball and kanga cricket tournaments. Try their fresh and fruity watermelon pilsner called the Serpent’s Kiss—which may sound like a terrible idea at first, but trust us, you'll be surprised. Whether it is the easy-drinking lagers and ales or a large glass of growler, the Grifter Brewing Co. sure does know how to tick all the boxes when it comes to lifting your mood.
The Grifter Brewing Co, 1/391-397 Enmore Road, Marrickville NSW 2204, Australia │ (+61) 2 9550 5742
Thirst quenching, cleansing, full-bodied, brewed in a premium brewhouse, with a seating space that overlooks the lush beer garden the boats sailing by on Darling Harbour—there is no better place to spend an afternoon with a bunch of good friends in this part of the world, we reckon. Beer DeLuxe stocks over 150 beer varieties and takes pride in having the best beer food, tempting mains, exciting wines, stunning cocktails, and a craft beer list that has been lauded as the best in Australia by the experts at ‘Beer & Brewer’ magazine. Getting thirsty already?
Everything about this place oozes quintessential bar ambience—the double-decker tap fonts, beer-inspired quotes on the wall, low lighting, and heavy-duty beer taps that dispense Australian classics with more floral aromas than a garden in late spring, but with plenty of complexity as well. And then there’s the bottled list. Fondly referred to as the Beer Bible, this list is as detailed and lengthy as it can get, for it gives a blow by blow account of the brewing process of each beer, plus the tastes and aromas to look out for, as well as an all-you-need-to-know beer glossary. It’s a tough ask for a venue to be everything to everyone, but Beer DeLuxe Darling Harbour does a pretty good job at it.
Beer DeLuxe, 9 Lime Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia │(+61) 2 8322 2020
Ever since Young Henrys started in 2012, head brewer Richard Adamson, pub life veteran Oscar McMahon, and their crew have been synonymous with craft beer in their native Newtown. From the outside, it has the modest, low-key charm of any stripped-back company who take immense pride in the product. It’s frequented by musicians, poets, artists, activists, and just about anyone who has anything interesting to say or share, and these patrons vouch for its irresistible charm that almost works like some giant, invisible beer magnet. Walk in on a rainy evening or a lazy afternoon, and you are guaranteed to pick up a certain vibe, one that causes you to adjust your immediate plans so you can spend a bit more time kicking back at the bar with a fresh pint and watch the brewers in action.
With five signature beers and one classic delicious cider being sold and served by the hundreds every day, if not thousands, one can see why locals love coming here. As one of the co-founders, Oscar McMahon puts it, “We take brewing very seriously!” They rely on quality ingredients, a robust tried and tested modus operandi, and a dedicated team of passionate brewers dedicated to brewing better beers every single time. Relish their ever-popular Stayer Mid, which is a soft-bodied tropical fruit flavoured beer, or the Aussie sensation Newtowner, known for its excellent hop aroma and a perfect balance of sweet and bitter. Be it the limited editions, seasonal releases, collaborations, or experimental brews—things rarely go sideways at the Young Henrys.
Young Henrys, 76 Wilford Street, Newtown NSW 2042, Australia │(+61) 2 9519 0048
The roots of this beloved brewery originate from a faraway land around the US of A, where the founders decided to ride the wave of the beer craft popularity. They delved deeper into every nook and cranny of the US’ craft beer scene for months before formalizing their modus operandi, returning home with heads full of inspiration and a plan to brew Australia’s finest tasting craft beer. This is the origin story of Mona Vale brewed Modus Operandi beer, made of live yeast flown in from the USA and best quality malts and hops sourced from all over the globe. Yes, their modus operandi may seem like paying over the odds, but the proof is in the brew.
Their location boasts an expansive double-storeyed warehouse, where most of the brewing takes place. A grand stage wedged amid the heavy-duty brewing equipment houses popular local bands for Friday and Saturday night performances. Whether you are committed to your favourite kind of brew, open to tasting the seven-serve tasting paddle, or looking to indulge in some luminous American cheddar and smoky bacon-loaded Ernest burger, Modus Operandi is a smart choice for some serious R and R.
Modus Operandi, 14 Harkeith Street, Mona Vale NSW 2103, Australia │(+61) 2 8407 9208
If you like your beer with a side of history, look no further. Built in 1836 as a colonial home, made of sandstone blocks and marbles, the hotel underwent several renovations before being restored to its former grandeur. Today, Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel is Sydney’s longest-running, fully licensed brewery situated on the historic Rocks precinct and recognized around the world for its award-winning beers and a comprehensive list of wines and food. Over the years, there has been a real revival of great artisan brewing in Australia, and they’re really proud to be a part of that.
During the busy weekdays, this historic old pub entertains a tailored corporate crowd, but on a Sunday, this should be your first port of call for a leisurely pint or two. So, what is it they do differently? For the starters, their philosophy rides on brewing for the home state and appeals to Sydney pride. Secondly, their Seasonal and Mainstay ales are one hundred per cent natural and home-brewed, which means there is no room for added sugar or preservatives. The brewing process begins in a massive mash tun kept in the hotel’s cellar, taken to the brewery for fermentation, and matured and conditioned in the bright beer room before being sent through to the dispense taps in the bars located above. Now, that’s what we call hitting a perfect home run!
Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, 19 Kent Street, The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia │(+61) 2 9251 4044