This article was written by Andrew Smith. Andrew is a craft beer fanatic and holds the distinguished title of New South Wales’ Chief Funster. Having beat out a few hundred thousand people for the position, Andrew is now on a six-month assignment to uncover 802,000 moments of fun in New South Wales (one for each square kilometer of the Australian territory). Learn more about Andrew and his sweet job in this TMT Q+A.
With 802,000 moments of fun, more than a few of them are bound to involve beer. So I asked Andrew to fill us in on the best breweries in New South Wales so we all can drink like pros the next time we find ourselves down under. For graciously sharing his favorite spots and insider knowledge, I think we all owe Andrew a beer.
There’s no denying it, I’m a fan of craft beer. Unsurprisingly, since I’ve been traveling around Sydney and New South Wales (NSW), I’ve been keeping my eyes out for both established producers and newcomers in the craft beer scene.
I’m uncovering some amazing boutique breweries and hundreds of unique beers out here. These are some of my picks thus far:
Stone & Wood Brewing Company – Byron Bay
On the road out of Byron Bay in far north NSW, boutique brewers Stone & Wood was born when founders Jamie Cook, Brad Rogers and Ross Jurisich took their combined 40 years’ experience working for the big boys over at Fosters to the beach to start their own thing. Their beers are heavily influenced by the laid-back lifestyle and local produce of Byron Bay itself, and their philosophy is to take things slowly and keep it simple. This approach can be found in their flagship golden ale, Pacific Ale – an easy drinking brew, where you can have a couple without worrying about getting bloated or overrun by a massive taste. This is not a “light” beer however – it packs a refreshing punch as it’s dry-hopped with Galaxy after fermentation. My first try was straight from the brite tank and my expectations were blown away. Seek this hoppy beer fresh, as it won’t age for long.
Young Henrys – Sydney
A small brewery with big ideas, Young Henrys has become something of an icon in the less than two years since it opened. Tucked down a graffiti-laden laneway in one of Sydney’s most hip inner-city areas, Young Henrys is in a converted warehouse housing massive boil kettles, fermenters and bright tanks. Juxtaposed here are guitars, skateboards, sofas and handmade furniture spread throughout the tasting area where you can try one of their beers or perhaps all of them on a massive tasting paddle designed to allow guests to experience everything on tap in small doses. Newtown is proud of Young Henrys and vice versa, even naming their extra-hopped session ale the “Newtowner”. Ask for Ben or Dan and say I sent you. They’ll take care of you like they’ve known you for a million years.
Murray’s Craft Brewing Co. – Port Stephens
Having crafted more than 40 unique beers, Murray’s in Port Stephens just north of Sydney is a heavyweight in the NSW craft brewing space. I visited the brewery recently and was informed they bottled the first double IPA (India Pale Ale) in Australia – serious street cred. Due to their wide range and years of experience, Murray’s offers a solid line-up of beers which boast consistency. Personally, I recommend Heart of Darkness, an imperial stout fermented with Belgian-style yeast. The yeast gives this deep, malt monster a refreshing lift in the mouthfeel and even adds some classic Belgian notes of clove and subtle, candied dark fruit. Additionally, grab their anniversary ale and stock another away to try in a year or five, and see how it changes (yes you can age certain beers with great results!). On top of all that, the brewery is set in 35 acres of lush bushland and vegetable and herb gardens, from which they grab fresh produce to create a seriously delicious menu of dishes to match to their beers.
Rocks Brewing Co. – Sydney
What started as love for Hart’s Pub in the Sydney central business district’s historic The Rocks precinct has grown into a fondness for Rocks Brewing Co. At first, I didn’t realize that Rocks Brewing Co was actually the masterminds behind the iconic Hart’s Pub and that half a dozen of their brews are consistently on tap. After setting up in the pub in 2008, the brewing company has just recently opened a brand spanking new brewery in Sydney’s Alexandria – an area which is growing into one of the city’s culinary hotspots. The brewery comes with a bar serving up their beers and also American-style comfort food, like house-smoked beef brisket, slow-roasted pulled pork and Louisiana hot wings. A winner, all round.
Six String Brewing Company – Central Coast
Cruising up to the NSW’s Central Coast about an hour north of Sydney, the environment there – lush bushland, white sand beaches and sparkling bays – begs for the accompaniment of good beers. Six String is something of an oasis as they’ve taken it upon themselves to spearhead the craft beer movement in the region. Even though brewers Chris and Adam are fans of wild brew styles, the Hefeweizen and ESB bring in casual consumers and slowly convert them into enthusiasts. Six String delivers genre-bending beers like Choc Cherry Dunkelweizen and their double IPA. Check into the brewery to listen to live music or enjoy their ridiculously good pub food from their on-site chef.
More To Check Out:
While these are my favorites so far, there are plenty of other great options in NSW which are definitely worth exploring, such as:
4 Pines Brewing Company in Sydney’s beach suburb of Manly
The Lovedale Brewery in the Hunter Valley
Batch Brewing Co in Sydney’s Marrickville
HopDog BeerWorks in Nowra, south of Sydney on the Shoalhaven Coast
Badlands Brewery in Orange in NSW’s Central West
Thirsty Crow Brewing Co the first microbrewery in Wagga Wagga in the Riverina region
Andrew is discovering new beers and breweries all the time as he travels. You can discover them with him and follow the adventure on social media:
Check out Andrew’s personal Instagram for more NSW beer finds.