HADYN GREEN finds that Sydney’s inner west brewing scene is perfect on a Sunday, and does a good job of auditioning the best of them.
The Sydney suburb of Marrickville wasn’t known for much. Directly under the flight path of the nearby airport, the area was full of warehouses and industrial buildings. That meant cheap rents, and lots of space for new breweries to set up.
Fast forward to 2019 and Marrickville is the hottest part of Sydney’s brew scene, led by a bunch of small-to-medium sized breweries and a handful of bars. They do a nice trade all week, but the weekends are huge I took advantage of a free Sunday in Sydney, and the generosity of my local friend Peter, to see what all the buzz was about.
First let me say a couple of words about Aussie beers: they’re good. For a long time, Kiwis have been smug about the offerings from our neighbour. But despite having a slower start in the craft market, Australia’s beer scene is as mature as ours, and in a lot of ways it’s further ahead.
Due to taxation and import fees we don’t get a lot of good Aussie beers in New Zealand. But if you do see them, I recommend trying them.
We started our tour at Grifter.
Tucked in behind a service station, Grifter Brewing Co. is a gem hiding in plain sight. The bar and brewery are inside a large warehouse space, and it’s surprisingly cosy without everyone being jammed in.
Some of Grifter’s beers are local legends. I was told I had to have the Serpent’s Kiss Watermelon Pilsner (I did, and it was excellent). The tap list was dotted with a few ‘regular’ styles (pale ale, pilsner, APA), but the majority were all a little off-kilter. Pink lemonade sour, oatmeal IPA, cucumber Kolsch, I had them all and they were all great!
I could’ve spent all day there, but we had other stops and only one afternoon. Next up was Sauce.
Set back from the main streets, Sauce was a bit harder to find. Unlike Grifter, the interior was quite small and dark, so thankfully it had a garden. And on a clear, sunny Sunday it was packed.
Most of the inner west breweries of Sydney are heaving on Sundays before 3pm. It’s when everyone and their dogs come out and have a nice afternoon, at a time when those with young families can meet their friends in a bar setting that’s not actually a bar. As such, Sauce’s outdoor area was teeming with kids and parents, everyone having a great time in the winter sunshine.
Stockade Brew Co. was next.
Stockade is smaller than Sauce but has an impressive barrel room. Unsurprisingly they had a good selection of high-strength barrel-aged beers (if we were in a movie, ominous music would start playing). I even tried their mulled beer, something I had never seen before. It wasn’t great, but I loved the concept. But after all that alcohol, it was clear we needed to eat.
Even on a walking tour it’s a good idea to keep your food intake up. Thankfully, the other attraction of these breweries is the food trucks. Grifter had South American corn pockets, Sauce had Italian food (including deep fried lasagne cubes!), and Stockade had burgers, which was our choice. Peter had one with truffles while I chose one stuffed with BBQ crisps.
Our last stop was Batch Brewing, a brew bar I have been to many times.
Possibly the smallest of the four, it had the most laid-back vibe of our stops. This was partly due to it being later in the evening, so the family crowds had moved on and it was the quiet Sunday night drinkers still hanging around. It was a good place to end, even if I had to leave my 8.4% imperial brown ale only half finished.
If you find yourself in Sydney with a day to spare, I strongly urge you to try this tour. If walking isn’t your thing, there’s a hop-on hop-off bus tour as well. No matter what transport you take, remember drink responsibly and ask before patting someone’s dog.