Brewery bars give brewers a unique opportunity to connect with their local community, grow their brand, put a face and a space to their name, and make better margins on sales too.
I’m always keen to sample the latest beers fresh from the source. In general, brewery venues are relaxed, spacious, welcoming and family-friendly venues that also have great fresh beer, which makes them a great stopping off point on any journey. I’ve had my fair share of tasting paddles at breweries across Australia, so thought I would share some of my favourite venues to visit.
These are my favourite brewery bars based on the comfort and ambience of the venue, the food, the service and of course most importantly, the beer. Note that while I would love to have been to every Australian brewery, there’s still a few that I’m working on getting to. In the meantime, here are my standouts so far from 5 states across Australia.
Victorian brewery bars to visit
Stomping Ground in Collingwood, Melbourne
This brewpub, from the legendary Local Taphouse & GABS team, is in a great position in the heartland of Melbourne’s craft beer scene in the inner-north and close to various forms of public transport.
The venue is impressive with a huge bar area and spacious and comfortable for all different crowds. They even have a cool rustic kids playhouse, which is great if you care about that kind of thing. Clearly these guys have more money and hospitality expertise than the average brewery. The food is a cut above the usual pub-grub and a good accompaniment for the beers.
Oh and the beer is all really good too. Not blow-your-socks-off-amazing… yet at least … but I really enjoy all of their beers. The One Eyed IPA is punchy, there’s some nice Belgian style beers and sours, the Bearbrass nitro milk stout is smooth and creamy, and all were well made and there’s a good variety of styles, light and dark, familiar and different, on offer. They’re increasingly rolling out more complex beers including sour and barrel-aged beers so keep an eye on what these guys are bringing out next.
Napoleone Brewery & Ciderhouse in Coldstream
Napoleone are best known for their ciders but they also do a really great range of European-influenced beers at an enchanting venue co-located with the quality Meletos restaurant. Located in the ambient Yarra Valley, in a spacious venue with a lovely fit out containing contemporary and rustic elements. It’s an ideal stop-off in the midst of wine country for good food and good beers.
You can grab a tasting paddle from their bar, alongside the excellent food. They brew mostly a mix of English, Belgian and German style beers, as well as a few standards like an American pale ale. All these beers tend to be fairly dry and easy-to-drink while still retaining complexity. The saison, porter, ESB, and rauchbier are all good examples of the traditional styles.
Even for those who don’t love cider, I recommend trying theirs as they have some especially interesting ones. I particularly enjoyed the Methode Traditionelle Pear Cider as a more complex and dry cider.
Hargreaves Hill in Yarra Glen
The Hargreaves Hill restaurant is the only venue on the list that doesn’t include a brewing setup in the building but there’s plenty to like here. You’ll find this underrated brewer’s latest creations on tap and usually at a reasonable price in either a pot or in a paddle. The food is good and tasty, making good use of the local produce in the area. While the building is a lovely old bank building with a lot of character.
The ESB is their most recognised beer but they have a pretty solid range all-round and some interesting tasty specials too like The Phoenix, an imperial red ale, so keep an eye out for their latest seasonal and small-batch releases.
Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth
A stellar regional brewpub if ever there was one, from one of craft beer’s great innovators, this is a great venue. The only issue I ever have with it is getting a seat as it does get busy, so make sure you book ahead especially in holiday periods.
The venue has a buzzing atmosphere, malt sacks adorn the seating, and a stylish Ned Kelly symbol sits atop the tasting paddles to add some style. The food is good whether it’s gourmet pizzas or beer bread pretzels or pastrami wraps, it’s all really well done.
I love the range of beers from Bridge Road and I never worry about not finding anything interesting on their taps. If I had to pick one regional Victorian brewery to visit, this is the one.
Queensland breweries to visit
Balter Brewing in Currumbin
The venue owned by a group including Mick Fanning is awesome. It has a simple barebones industrial factory feel of many breweries but with some nice flourishes that puts it a cut above the rest. There’s the cool mural on the wall, a variety of different seating areas, a slick tiled bar with the rhetorical question ‘Thirsty?’, and a space for good food trucks like the Portuguese truck Barraca.
While the beer range isn’t huge yet, it is reliable and steadily growing. All the beers are more approachable than they are creative but they’re also extremely well made. The XPA and Alt Brown, their first two beers in cans, are a perfect combo of easy-to-drink yet flavourful and interesting beers. They’re simply some of the best core beers going around.
Fortitude brewing in Mount Tamborine
Up in the picturesque hills of the Gold Coast hinterland, Fortitude Brewing have a great spot to stop-off and grab some top drinks and eats. The brewery is co-located with a cheese shop and a restaurant with a nice sheltered outdoor area between the venues where you can take a seat and indulge in your choice of foods while enjoying the top brews.
Fortitude have a range of really sessionable beers. I really enjoyed the Pacer 2.0, a light beer, that packs some flavour, especially fresh from the taps here, and is light, dry and easy to drink.
For the more adventurous beer drinkers, there’s plenty more to offer under the Noisy Minor banner (different name, same brewery). Noisy Minor beers include the great Imperial Red Ale, Admiral Ackbar, an IPA, and my pick of the beers there – a Belgian style black ale, Bete Noire, that was tasty and complex.
New South Wales breweries to visit
The Rocks brewery in Alexandria
Located in the burgeoning hotspot of Sydney’s inner west, the Rocks brewery is in a nice new commercial complex that also contains a trampoline centre. It doesn’t have much old world charm, but it is a really slick venue with enormous steel tanks, state of the art brewing equipment, and comfortable spaces to drink.
There’s also tasty American-style food to chomp on, tasting paddles of their solid range including beers like a porter and White IPA, and if you come at the right time, a bit of live music to nod your head to. It’s an easy spot to drop into and get a good beer fix and a few takeaways for good measure.
Murrays Brewing at Bob’s Farm just outside of Port Stephens
Murrays Brewing’s home base is located at a venue called Bob’s Farm, near the town of Port Stephens. On a nice day, the outdoor area is a pleasant area to enjoy a tipple.
When I ventured there a few years back, it was over Easter, the venue was busy and they had a special Easter Ale on tap with all the flavours of hot cross buns in a glass. Good stuff to go along with their excellent range of beers.
Murrays have long been one of the best breweries in Australia, and while they changed head brewer a few years back, they have reinvigorated their lineup recently with some exciting new beers while still continuing to produce some of the classics too.
Batch Brewing in Marrickville, Sydney
These next two venues as they are very lo-fi setups but they also have a lot of character and a lot of great beer that make them worth a visit in my books.
Batch Brewery is a cosy little venue that has thrown open a bar with taps of its great range and provides a fridge so that locals can pop in and grab fresh beer on tap or to takeaway. Batch produces some of my favourite beers such as their Elsie Milk Stout – the best beer I’ve ever had on nitro and they also do a wide variety of beers from farmhouse style to creative new world combos.
They do get food providers come in and set up at the front to serve the hungry patrons, again very low key.
Willie the Boatman in Tempe, Sydney
Willie the Boatman is located right next to an axe-throwing venue and feels like the inside of a big tin shed. They make a space available for food providers to come in and cook up for the patrons, and the friendly owners might even be on hand to pour beers to complete the genuine small local independent experience.
Beerwise, you’ll find the kind of experimental small batch beers that you wouldn’t find at a larger brewery, when I went this included an oyster stout and a rockmelon gose. If you find a particular beer on tap you like, they can pour you a 1L can of it to takeaway. They also have some of their standard beers in longneck bottles, like the excellent Black Bunny Dark Ale.
Smiling Samoyed brewery in Myponga
Travelling through South Australia, I was particularly fond of this little venue in the middle of nowhere, or more precisely, amidst the bush between Adelaide and Victor Harbour in a town called Myponga,
The tasting paddles use vinyl records, which has to be one of the funkiest paddles I’ve seen. Their pale ales are hoppy delights, outside is quiet and scenic, and it’s an all-round nice spot to stop off and take a breath and drink some beers. The beautiful Samoyed dogs trotting around add to the down-to-earth welcoming feel.
Little Creatures brewery in Fremantle
This Little Creatures venue in was I think my first great experience of a brewery venue, it’s a magical spot for a beer on a nice day in Freo. You can sit inside by the vast steel tanks in a funky industrial space, or take a table outside overlooking the water, play some bocce, drink the classic Aussie pale ale from the source and enjoy a nice array of quality eats.
And to make this a baker’s dozen of great breweries to visit, also check out the Victorian Little Creatures brewery in Geelong in the historic old wool mill there. It’s a grand and spacious venue with personality and has the familiar recipe of good beer and good eats.
The co-location of the White Rabbit brewery also adds to the interest and variety of tastes on offer with their solid variety of core beers and some barrel aged delights to capture the drinker’s imagination.