The Local: Sydney, Australia

Beer, it loves you too

Traditionally, the neighborhood pub has been a place to gather to socialize, have a pint after work, and maybe get some dinner. The nearest pub therefore is simply referred to as “The Local”. In this series, I’ll be giving a review of my top “locals” by region and my favorite drink to have there.

Along with its beaches, BBQs, and strange, cuddly, and often dangerous creatures, Australia is well known for being a country that likes its beer. Neighborhood pubs are a standard fixture for social and family get-togethers, and while there are a fair number of imports to be found, Australia also has quite a number of well-established breweries scattered around the country turning out some quality brews.

Sydney being the size it is, a comprehensive list of quality venues is fairly impossible, but as with any large task, you have to start somewhere. And really, there are worse undertakings.


 

The Brews

Coopers – From South Australia, Coopers is to Australia what Sam Adams is to the US; found nearly everywhere, but higher quality than the ever-present VB or Tooheys. Coopers Pale Ale, or “Coopers Green” holds a particular fondness for me as my first beer in Australia, bought for me by a local shore fisherman over swapping life stories.

James Squire – The Golden Ale from James Squire is one of those beers that I will always buy when I want to spend a little more for a beer that will cap off a perfect day, or have some especially good steaks to be BBQ’d.

Little Creatures – From Western Australia, you really can’t go wrong with the whole range from Little Creatures.

Matilda Bay – These guys produce the single best wheat beer I’ve ever encountered, Beez Neez, a honey wheat that’s sweet without overdoing it. My friend Beth, a former resident of Australia, regularly chose her venues strictly on whether they had Beez Neez on tap. The Fat Yak pale ale is also a favorite.

 

Where To Raise A Glass

The Australian Hotel – Simply put, if you want to drink Australian beer, the best place to start is the Australian Hotel in The Rocks. Boasting over 80 varieties of Australian beer, as well as an excellent selection of pizzas including my favorite, the kangaroo pizza, you can spend some time getting to know Australia’s “local flavor”.

Opera Bar – Tucked just under the famous Sydney Opera House and overlooking Circular Quay and the Harbour Bridge, Opera Bar is by far the most scenic venue in Sydney. An afternoon or evening is easily spent here lounging along the waterfront, although it’s a very popular after work and weekend spot, so be prepared for crowds after 5PM.

Courthouse Hotel – Right in the heart of the eclectic suburb of Newtown, Courthouse is a rare garden bar in the middle of the city. Given the neighborhood as well as being close to Sydney University campus, the crowd is usually younger, fairly international, and very casual, offering a retreat from the business suit or club crowd.

The Oaks – Something of a social hub in North Sydney, The Oaks in Neutral Bay offers 5 bars over two floors and a huge outdoor courtyard shaded by its namesake oak tree. With grill-it-yourself BBQs, pool tables and party rooms, and of course the requisite kebab shop across the street, it’s got everything you need for an evening out.

Manly Wharf Hotel – Sydney has no shortage of beach bars, so you really can take your pick for your favorite, but for ease of access after a long day in the sun and surf, Manly Wharf Hotel sits just next to the Manly ferry terminal, letting you wind down before heading back into the city. The view off the deck over the harbor isn’t a bad spot to watch the sun go down either.

 
Have a favorite local beer or brewpub in Sydney? Let everyone else know, leave a comment!
 

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