Whether you’re a resident of Sydney or travelling there like me, if you’re looking to drink the great craft beer at great venues, these 4 bar crawls give you a good introduction.
Sydney took a little while to come to the craft beer party but now that it truly has arrived with an exciting array of venues to choose from to drink good beer. From the newly opened brewery bars of the hot inner west, to classic CBD pubs, to the many bars with many taps in Surry Hills, there’s plenty to choose from for any drinker with an interest in craft beer.
Here is a guide to the very best beer bars in four bar crawls.
Bar crawl 1: Sippin suds in Surry Hills
Keg & Brew / Yulli’s or Bitter Phew / The Local Taphouse
Surry Hills has arguably been Sydney’s craft beer heartland, at least until the inner west exploded, but even still it’s probably the area with the most good craft beer available.
Kick off your journey with Keg & Brew, 33 taps with three handpumps, they have a wide range of Sydney’s best local beers on offer. You can sit around the very long oval bar or snag one of the tables amidst an eclectic mix of students and creative professionals. They’ll pour you a sample if you’re unsure of what to pick, and they have specials too for the more frugal drinkers.
Next, grab some food to line the stomach at one of the following two great beer and food venues. The first is only a five-minute walk away, Yulli’s, a vegetarian restaurant that also brews its own beer. They’ve been pumping a nice range of beers around the local area.
If you’re feeling more like meat, and you didn’t already succumb to the temptation of a Philly Cheesesteak at Keg & Brew earlier, then why not head the other way to Bitter Phew and order some Mr. Crackles at the bar. Bitter Phew also has 12 taps and offers possibly the most interesting range with a mix of international and local beers, and always a few hard-to-find beers that will delight.
Finally, after traversing Surry Hillys, walk to the Local Taphouse in the neighbouring Darlinghurst, a multi-level bar that like the one in Melbourne, offers great bars on tap and a vibrant atmosphere.
Bar Crawl 2: CBD crafty beer fun
The SG / Bavarian Bier Cafe / Baxter Inn / Frankie’s Pizza
A couple of minutes walk from there is the small kitsch bar, The SG bar (Spooning Goats). Located below-street level with a Street Fighter arcade game and using grandma’s furniture and glassware, it’s a relaxed spot for a good beer with 4 taps pouring an always interesting selection of local craft beers.
The Bavarian Bier Cafe has locations all over Sydney and is not known for its craft beer, but it is a nice venue and has now launched its own craft beer arm. Mainly, they’re on this list because their pork knuckle is awesome and the York street location is only a short skip away.
Baxter Inn is not so much a beer venue as just a great venue. It placed sixth in a World’s 50 best bars award and stocks an impressive selection of whiskeys that is so extensive, the staff require a ladder to get to the top shelf.
There’s an element of theatre to finding this bar, down the laneway, around the corner and through some unmarked doors and stairs to this prohibition-style basement bar. It’s worth the effort, and you can usually find a Moo Brew or Riverside on tap to make a great boilermaker with their vast whiskey selection.
And finally, probably the no.1 Sydney craft beer venue for fun is Frankie’s pizza. Another ‘hidden’ bar from the same group behind Baxter Inn, in the front this is a kitsch pizzeria/bar and in the back, a spacious pumping bandroom. Enjoy their selection of some of the best Sydney craft beers going around in plastic cups, while playing pinball and enjoying the excellent live music.
Bar Crawl 3: CBD II: breweries and pubs
King St Brewhouse / Lord Nelson Brewery / Australia Heritage Hotel / Hart’s Pub
For those just looking for some nice beers in relaxed pubs, then this bar crawl is for you.
Start at the spacious brewpub on Kings Wharf, the King Street Brewhouse and try their Gold medal winning Cannonball Stout on tap, or any of their other quaffable range.
Head across the newly opened Barangaroo to the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, an English-style pub in a lovely old building on the Rocks which serves good pub food and quality English-style beers.
The Australian Heritage Hotel is Sydney’s longest running licensed hotel at over 100 years old. It’s gets busy and offers an impressive array of bottled beers and pizza if hunger strikes.
And if you climb up higher on the Rocks to Hart’s Pub, you’ll be rewarded with a strong selection of local craft beers across 12 taps and 2 handpumps, including the Rocks Brewing’s solid range of easy-drinking beers.
Bar Crawl 4: Inner west brewery excursion
Young Henrys / Grifter / Batch / Wayward
An explosion of breweries have opened up in the West. Kick off this one at the Newtown brewery Young Henrys, the vets of the area, who have a great core range like their Real Ale and Hop Ale, and usually some nice one-offs too.
If you’re feeling hungry, you’re also spoilt for choice in this area. I can recommend Bloodtown for great contemporary Australian food and good bottled beers, but if you prefer comfort food, Mary’s with its craft beer and infamous burgers is a good option too.
Head along Enmore Road into Marrickville and you’ll find the new brewery The Grifter. Enjoy their 8 beers on tap including hoppy fave Big Sur, a West Coast IPA.
It’s short walk from there to Batch Brewing, which has a lo-fi setup that feels homely and relaxed. Their beers are excellent – their milk stout on nitro blew me away last winter – and you’ll be able to take home ‘bombers’ or growlers of their various beers too.
Now you might need to take a short taxi or Uber up to Annadale, but it’s worth it to visit one of Sydney’s coolest new breweries, Wayward brewing. Their ‘Charmer’ India Red Ale is a classic and they have an interesting range of styles of beers to choose from and a cool fitout too.
So there you have it, in 4 bar crawls you’ve covered a lot of Sydney’s best beer bars. As a bonus, if you happen to be in the North Shore area, I can recommend Four Pines in Manly and heading further north, Nomad in Brookvale and Modus Operandi in Mona Vale are two more breweries getting a lot of buzz for their world-class beers.