Tasmania may hold the best selection of wines and spirits, but Sydney’s inner suburbs can now boast about having the best selection of breweries. And what’s better, the average walker can brewery-hop most of them with their group of mates on a Friday afternoon. Or you could nominate a designated driver or master your public transport skills and do it all in one day.
There’s 13 in all, but one is so low key they’ve asked me to not mention them. So for this list, it’s 12. And where better to start than Marrickville?
Each beer they brew is done in batches, much like a batch of cookies or bread, except they’re working with the nectar of the gods. Iain McKelvey, the Tasting Room and Events Manager, said they are always experimenting with what’s possible in beer making, “whether it be adding pork broth in a beer, in homage to Marrickville Pork Roll, or working with the classics”.
“Each brew is exciting and we are always seeking to push the boundaries while succeeding in the end goal: a refreshing, delicious and exciting beer,” Iain said.
“Our American Pale Ale is our flagship and therefore still our biggest seller overall. It’s exciting to see a customer who is familiar with that and then take those first baby steps into unfamiliar territory, maybe our Pash The Magic Dragon, which is a Passionfruit and Dragonfruit sour ale.”
Get on the sauce, as they say, at the Sauce Brewing Company. Their main goal is to serve a variety, so expect something to suit your taste-buds, from hops to sours, to good old fashioned ales. Mike Clarke, the founder of Sauce, said it’s the top-notch equipment that makes the quality beer they serve.
“Everybody tries to be different and good in their own way,” Mike said. “We just focus on the quality of our beer. We like to be innovative and play around with what we can make, but with quality.”
This brewery is known for (and is 100% focused on) its wild ales: “All of the beers from this blendery will be fermented with a mixed culture that I have foraged, wrangled, harvested from New South Wales,” said Topher Boehm, brewer and co-founder.
“All of the bugs (wild yeasts) in our beers are entirely indigenous to this state.”
And what also makes it different is their fermentation process. Topher explains that what they do is known as “mixed fermentation”, where they can experiment and learn from the yeasts they forage.
“Due to our commitment to these types of fermentations, our beer-making process is greatly altered in order to allow these wild yeasts to express themselves in a positive way,” he said. “Foremost among these practices is the blending of new and old barrel aged beer in order to highlight the complexity in flavour these wild yeasts naturally create.
Topher’s go-to beer is their Table beer, which is only sold by them and will never go to outside trade.
“It’s very refreshing and perfect to have after a hard days work while you still need to drive.”
“A friend came up with the name,” said Matt King, co-founder of The Grifter Brewing Company. “At the time, we were contract brewing out of someone else’s brewery, so we were kinda conning people into thinking we were a legit brewery, much like a grifter would.”
They are always looking for quirky and interesting beer styles that push the boundaries.
“I guess the fact that you can go to the source and see where it’s made and enjoy our beers on site is something bigger breweries can’t really offer,” Matt said.
If you’re looking to taste the popular one, try their watermelon pilsner. As Matt said, “it’s almost become the house beer in a way.”
When Richard Adamson and Oscar McMahon began their collaborations about the idea of starting the brewery, Richard’s son Henry was very young and would often tag along to the meetings. Oscar often asked, ‘Will young Henry be attending?’ – and the name just stuck.
Young Henrys is a fresh new establishment, brewing their first beer in 2012. And since then they’ve grown to be a mainstay for Sydney, and a top local brewer for Newtown. It was created with the purpose of providing a great beer at an affordable rate, and keeping things local and sustainable for the environment.
“Our focus has always been on supporting mates, be they local community members, musicians, artists, sportspeople and charities and our group of mates has continued to grow as a result,” a Henrys spokesperson said.
Their favourite beer is the Newtowner: “It was created with the Inner West Council for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of Newtown and has fast become our most popular beer nationally.”
A brewery that pays homage to the locals. Literally. It’s named after William Kerr, a Scottish convict sent to Australian in 1827. He was tasked to row across the cooks river by a local gentry to tempe.
“My mate Nick and I were walking around the area and heard about Willie the boatman,” said Patrick Mcinerney. “When we wanted to make a brewing company, we thought it’d make a great name.”
The beer selection is “fairly unique”, as Patrick said, and the brewery has a relaxed atmosphere as you partake and catch up on old times.
If you stop by, check out their popular Nectar of the Hops. It’s a fruity concoction.
Staves are the curved wooden pieces of a barrel that cleverly work together to contain and protect the beer. Staves are also those distinct five lines on sheet music, because Staves brewery is also a live band venue. And stave also sounds a bit like Steve, the name of the owner and founder.
Staves Brewery is also a new up and coming brewery, having started it’s brewing in 2015.
“Our beer is brewed literally right behind our tap room bar in small batches so we can release a new beer style almost every fortnight,” said a Staves Brewery spokesperson.
“We love our Sydney Royal Gold medal winning Oatmeal Stout but over the warmer months we are enjoying Aussie Galaxy Pale Ale with strong citrus and passionfruit notes.”
If you take a left before you reach the city along Parramatta Road, chances are you’d be wayward and end up at the Wayward Brewing Company. Partake in their 12-tap tasting room featuring an interior design that showcases the wayward traveller. Faye White, creative director at Wayward, says they are definitely not afraid to take a stroll off the beaten track with their beers.
“Sourpuss Raspberry Berliner Weisse can be a crowd divider, but is definitely gaining a cult following,” she said. “Not many breweries have a sour in their core range, and it’s becoming a firm favourite for a lot of people who drink our beer.”
But while they’re tempted to experiment, I am assured they stick to the root fundamentals of beer crafting.
This brewery is home to some well-known beer brands, from White Rabbit to Little Creatures, but it’s most notable for the brand James Squire, which is where the name comes in. It was originally called Hahn Brewery, but it was renamed in 1998 after James Squire’s first brewing tavern, The Malt Shovel. For those not too fond of history, James Squire is the name of Australia’s first brewer, who began brewing in the 19th century.
Unfortunately, despite their beer range being well known, there is little else to know about this brewery. Not even their opening hours. Their Google-listed phone number doesn’t work either and my emails haven’t been returned.
When contact is returned and questions answered, I’ll update this post. In the meantime, you can always walk up to their front door.
Don’t be a Hipster, be a Hopster as you enter the Hopsters Cooperative Brewery in Leichhardt. It’s the first co-op brewery using co-op principles. Or as their website puts it: “A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.”
“We are a member-driven brewery,” explained a spokesperson for Hopsters. “Every month we have a learn to brew in a specific style with classes. For example, the next classes are a NEIPA, a Belgian Ale, a Kolsch and a Brown Ale.
“Then the cooperative does a home brewing competition within the membership. We do a professional blind tasting, then the winning beer goes to tap. Our head brewer will brew a batch with the winner”
Click the button under the map to see about joining.
The Rocks was the place that the convicts first settled and brewed beer, and where a lot of great stories started, such as the creation of this brewing company. Each of their beers has a unique story of the many convicts from that time.
“For example, the Hangman Pale is named after Alexander Green who was the public executioner for 30 years hanging over 400 people, including women and children,” Rocks Brewing Company Owner Mark Fethers said. “He had a massive scare on his face from an axe wound and ended up dying in a mental institution.”
Their beers are very traditional, with a healthy range to suit both the amateur and the expert.
“The Hangman is my go-to beer but at the same time asking which one is my favourite is like asking you to choose between your kids.”
“When an Aussie coming to France and working in such fairly basic environments, on a social point of view in kitchens and brewery, he’d be called Skippy. We got both called Frenchy. Hence Frenchies,” Frenchies Head Chef and Co-founder Thomas Cauquil said.
But, while French at heart, Thomas, along with his co-founder and brewer Vincent De Soyres, assures they truly embrace the Australian culture through their food and bevvies. And on the beer side, Vincent finds balance.
“Vincent De Soyres has a French brewing background which imparts a defined French character,” Thomas said. “We are not a hop driven brewery. Instead, we try to find the right balance between the four ingredients of the beer: hops, yeast, malt, water.”
“Our favourite beer is our bière de garde. It’s a style from northern France, quite similar to Belgian beers, although they have a drier finish which makes them a very easy drinking beer despite their higher alcohol content. Like a white wine, they have lots of complexity yet very refreshing.”