Sydney’s inner west allows beer lovers to dive into the backstreets and discover a delicious surprise, with inventive microbreweries turning out tasty, award-winning brews.
By Katrina Lobley & Ashlea Wheeler
Over the past few years, the number of craft breweries in Australia has more than doubled. One of the hotspots of this heady revolution is Sydney’s inner west – an area just 10 minutes by bus or train from the city centre that includes the suburbs of Newtown, Marrickville and Camperdown. Here, craft brewers have taken their passion to the next level with a slew of hip microbreweries opening up in this cool and quirky area. These venues have also become vibrant community hubs where everyone – from hipsters to hounds – is welcome.
As you stroll closer to this brewery in Newtown, which is tucked away from the busy thoroughfares of Enmore Road and King Street in an obscure laneway covered in graffiti, you’ll detect a happy buzz in the air. Both locals and visitors seek out the Young Henrys tasting bar to sample distinctive beers such as the Real Ale – an Aussie twist on an English classic that’s so good it took out the gold medal at the UK’s 2014 International Real Ale Festival. The brewery also turns out seasonal specials such as a Winter Hop Ale and Mulberia (a cheeky take on a sour fruit beer).
Wayward Brewing Company draws in patrons with a welcoming, casual vibe. Their beer hall in Camperdown features a wall dedicated to photos of the dogs that regularly visit the brewery with their owners, and vintage furniture that makes the space feel like an extension of your lounge room. The taps might be pouring exotic creations such as a passionfruit and yuzu sour beer (Passion of the Puss), while patrons happily play games of giant Jenga and munch on the free popcorn handed out at the bar.
When you step into the tasting room at Akasha Brewing Company in Five Dock, you'll know that this microbrewery is the real deal. Raw wood seating tones down the stark metal brewing machinery that lines the spacious room. Up to 12 beers and ciders are available on tap, and the selection always includes their Lager, Pale Ale, Amber Ale, and IPA along with special edition brews which are swapped out regularly. Entertainment in the form of a game of pool or darts makes it easy to while away an afternoon, before sampling some of the grub from the food trucks that appear on-site every weekend. If you enjoyed the brews, consider taking home a 1.9 litre ‘growler’ of beer straight from the brewery.
In the warehouse district of Marrickville, The Grifter have a set up that blends perfectly with the soul of the neighbourhood. Their open space, which was once used as an industrial laundromat, is huge enough to house their brewing tanks along with a spacious tasting bar. As you step inside, you'll notice that the walls and ceiling are lined with a seemingly appropriate combination of exposed brick and corrugated iron. Beer-lovers will be excited to know that the entire Grifter range is available on tap (including their signature Australian Pale Ale), and if you can’t choose which of their delicious brews to try, there’s the option of ordering four tasting ponies for $12. The best part is that you can collect them one at a time so that the beer in your hand is always fresh from the tap.
Tucked away on Mary Street in St Peters is Willie the Boatman – a craft brewery with a tasting bar housed in an old paint factory. The owners, who began as homebrewers and slowly developed their love of craft beer into a recognisable local brand, have adorned their space with a tasteful nautical theme and their unique beer flavours such as their Old Salty Gose and Albo Corn Ale have proved to be popular among the locals.
Reasonably new on the craft beer scene, Sauce opened up their Marrickville brewery in 2017 with a taproom and beer garden welcoming patrons of all ages and those who want to bring along their furry friends. A diverse range of flavoursome beers are available for tasting, ranging from hoppy to sour. Cleverly named beers like the ‘Piss-weak Sauce’ Session IPA or the ‘Son of a Peach!’ Berliner Weisse compliment their flagship Pale Ale and extra-hoppy IPA varieties.
Batch Brewing Company in Marrickville offers an interesting combination of American-Australian beers. As per their namesake, the range on offer at their Marrickville tasting room changes frequently as new batches are brewed, but some of the regulars you might see on the menu include an American Pale and an IPA. Some of the brews are available to take home in handy 1.9 litre growlers or 640 millilitre bottles, and if you’d like a peak behind the scenes, you can book a brewery tour over the weekend before grabbing a bite at one of the food trucks that park outside a few nights a week.